Modern Midwifery Matters

by Susan Kennedy

What to look for when looking

MOST PEOPLE are familiar with midwifery when it comes to women delivering babies. We wanted to get a better understanding of why midwifery matters, so we checked in with Dr. Cathy D. Bonk, MD from Atlanta Gynecology & Obstetrics to know more. Here’s what she told us:

Where did the idea of midwifery come from?

Midwifery is an ancient profession. The first modern nurse-midwives in the United States were British-educated women brought by Mary Breckinridge in 1925. Her focus was providing health care to residents in the remote mountains of rural Kentucky.

Do you have to choose between a midwife and a physician?

It’s well known that Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) can play a key role in providing care for low-risk pregnancies (the majority of pregnancies). Less known is that they often partner with physicians in comanaging complications during pregnancy, labor and birth.

Atlanta Gynecology & Obstetrics is an example of this approach. Our practice was one of the first in Atlanta to integrate these nursing professionals into our model of care more than 10 years ago. Our team includes five female physicians and six female midwives. It’s a combination offering the best of both worlds in education, empathy and technology.

Can a midwife provide other healthcare besides pregnancy?

Many women are surprised to learn that a midwife is an option their entire life-span. This includes performing annual well woman exams, providing counseling and prescriptions for birth control, placing IUDs and providing STD testing and counseling, and guiding menopausal management.

What should someone look for in a midwife practice?

A model of care that includes physicians and midwives means patients can receive the benefits of increased education and attentiveness, autonomy and shared decision-making without sacrificing the latest evidence-based medicine
I recommend considering the following:

  • Gender make-up: Some patients find an all-female, Board-Certified team is uniquely equipped to relate to their life experiences.

  • Experience and patient retention: A practice that is well established in the community and has served it long enough to treat women through two or three generations speaks to the quality of care.

  • Scope of Services: Find one equipped to handle your well-woman health care from pubescence through pregnancy through menopause.

  • Statistics: Your healthcare provider should want to achieve your goals in a safe and compassionate way. You can evaluate the importance of your birth plan to a practice by looking at their rate of C-section, labor induction and augmentation. Also ask what their success rate is for VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section.)

Patient satisfaction: If you’re like other women, you’ll want an increased sense of control during labor and delivery with lessinvasive intervention. A practice should offer birthing options when you want it and medically sound direction when you need it.

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