Nurse midwives: A broad range of care

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Newborn baby sleeping

When you think of a midwife, you might imagine a woman who delivers babies in a home or other non-clinical setting. While that scenario does occur, nurse midwives do much more than deliver babies. Nurse midwives offer a broad range of services for women in every stage of life.

“Certified nurse midwives are trained in the full range of primary health services for women,” says Kathleen Augustine, a certified nurse midwife with Tidelands Health Women’s Center, which has offices in Georgetown and Myrtle Beach. “Anything from menarche (the onset of menstruation) to menopause and beyond, we can treat it.”

Nearly 12,000 certified nurse midwives, commonly called CNMs, practice in the U.S., according to 2017 stats from the College of Nurse-Midwives. CNMs spent 86 percent of their time providing primary and reproductive care.

Most CNMs have bachelor’s and graduate degrees, and some have doctoral degrees. They also complete a midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education and pass examinations to earn designation as a certified nurse-midwife.

In South Carolina, CNMs are certified as advanced practice registered nurses, meaning they can write prescriptions and see patients for any number of reasons. From routine primary and gynecologic care, CNMs also offer family planning assistance, preconception guidance and care during all stages of pregnancy and childbirth.

 

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Augustine says she values getting to know patients before they become pregnant. That way, she learns what each woman wants and needs before that critical stage in life.

“I like to see women before they get pregnant so we can develop a relationship with routine gynecologic care and move through pregnancy,” she says. “That familiarity and ease is extremely valuable as a woman moves through the pregnancy.

When Augustine helps a women with childbirth, the baby is delivered in a hospital setting. If there’s a problem with the delivery, an on-call OB-GYN can perform a Cesarean section if needed.

Education and building a one-on-one relationship is vitally important to Augustine’s practice, she says.

“I think about how scared I was when I had my first baby. I was only 19 and had zero idea what was happening,” she says. “The education piece wasn’t there during my own first pregnancy, so it’s a key focus for me now that I’m offering care myself.”

 

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