We’ve come a long way, baby

National Midwifery Week (Sept. 30–Oct. 6) highlights the evolution and modern importance of a time-honored vocation

National Midwifery Week highlights the role of the modern midwife

Anne Vaillant, CNM

In recent decades, expectant moms across the nation have been making a slow but steady return to their historical roots in terms of pregnancy care and childbirth. An increasing number are choosing a delivery experience that was the norm in early America and, in many parts of the world, still is today. These women are embracing the traditional—yet evolving—practice of midwifery.

Sept. 30–Oct. 6 marks National Midwifery Week, when Women’s Health Associates joins the medical community and family-centered organizations everywhere in highlighting the work of America’s certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs). With passion and dedication, we collectively deliver more than 300,000 babies in the U.S. every year and provide primary gynecological care throughout countless women’s lives.

Midwifery: A Natural History

In times past, the primary attending caregiver during labor and delivery typically was a “lay” woman, informally trained to support the mother and provide initial care for the newborn. While these functions remain at the core of modern midwifery practice, today’s midwives are specially trained, licensed and certified, most in nursing as well. Certified nurse-midwives address women’s health needs from adolescence through menopause and beyond, in addition to our essential role as care provider during pregnancy, labor and childbirth.

With the establishment of obstetrics as an important medical field in the early 1900s, the vocation of midwifery faded from common practice for several decades. Its gradual resurgence came in the 1960s and 1970s, as a handful of hospitals began offering formal training programs.

According to a report from the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), the proportion of CNM/CM-attended births has risen nearly every year for at least the last 20 years.

Advantages of Midwife-Led Care

Women often choose midwifery care for its holistic, woman-centered approach, which actually may lead to better outcomes and lower health-care costs. Research shows that women receiving care from CMNs experience lower rates of cesarean births and labor induction, lower use of regional anesthesia and higher rates of breastfeeding than women strictly under physicians’ care.

While these facts speak volumes, it’s important to note that collaboration is critical in today’s Ob/Gyn practice. As CNMs, we work very closely with our physicians, ensuring that every woman has access to the best medical intervention if concerns should arise.

If you’re seeking a personalized, optimal care experience during pregnancy and childbirth, or at any stage of life, our CNMs are ready to partner with you. Contact us for an appointment today.

Vaccines during pregnancy: what expectant moms need to know

Some vaccines can be an important part of protecting the health of both mom and baby.
Some vaccines can be an important part of protecting the health of both mom and baby.

Dr. Jacqueline Kates

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

When it comes to health and wellness in pregnancy, any choice an expectant mom makes is for two (or more!)—including whether to receive vaccines. During National Immunization Awareness Month, we’re taking the opportunity to educate our patients and all pregnant women on this critical area of their care.

As with any medical treatment, recommendations around vaccinations center on risk vs. benefit. In general, a vaccine that contains inactive viruses is safe in pregnancy, and its protective benefits almost always outweigh its risk.

The flu shot and the Tdap vaccine—which prevents against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)—are primary examples of vaccines that contain no live viruses.  Not only do these vaccines protect both mother and fetus from potentially serious infections, but the baby will then retain some of that immunity after birth. For these reasons, we routinely recommend that women receive the flu shot and the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy.

That having been said, it’s important to note that only the flu shot—not the nasal mist—is recommended in pregnancy, as the nasal mist is made from a live virus. Other common vaccines that contain live viruses include the chickenpox (varicella), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and shingles (varicella zoster) vaccines. Since it’s possible a live virus vaccine, while generally safe for children and infants, could pose a risk to the baby, pregnant women should avoid these vaccines.

Health care providers may recommend other vaccines during pregnancy in certain cases, such as upcoming travel outside of the U.S. If a mom is at higher risk for infection due to certain health factors, we may determine that hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines would be beneficial.

It’s the job of your obstetric provider to explain the risks and benefits of receiving any vaccine, and to make recommendations based on your particular situation. Call us with any questions or to make an appointment. We can help you make the best choices for your baby’s health and yours.