Midwifery birthing options

These two parents are preparing to welcome twins into the world. But Marybeth Hefner and her husband Jeff aren’t doing it alone. They have midwife Becky Johnson with them.

“I want the doctor’s advice because I obviously don’t know a lot about birth, but I also want skin to skin immediately if I can, support with breast feeding and not having medical intervention that are unnecessary,” explained Hefner.

She didn’t think she’d be able to have a midwife for her twins here in Paducah. But Mercy Health Lourdes Hospital answered her prayers when they started the new midwifery program. “I think it’s not what we do but how we do it,” said Becky Johnson, a certified nurse midwife.

Johnson brings a unique perspective. A certified nurse midwife, Johnson is also a former emergency room nurse and labor and delivery nurse. “We’re a little more open to the natural remedies. We’re open to the different positions. I think that is one of the things that midwives are really known for,” said Johnson.

In 2017, numbers from the American Midwifery Certification board shows there were 11,826 certified nurse midwives. CNMs are licensed, independent health care providers.

“We should be doing the same testing, the same ultra sound and screening, etc. We partner with them so they’re the ones a lot of times calling the shots,” said Johnson

It’s about what the mother-to-be wants. “Often times they’re like what can I do here or what can I do there. I encourage them to let their bodies do it on their own and don’t intervene. I think that sometimes medicine seems to cause some problems as we try to intervene when maybe we shouldn’t we should just be patient,” Johnson said.

Hefner says having the choice to customize her pregnancy and care is empowering. “Try to decide what you think is best for you and the baby and then find medical care that matches that.”

The Hefner family welcomed their twins to the world on February 5th. Avery Kate and Holden Luke were delivered with a c-section. Mother and babies are healthy.

Read more on midwifery below.

What exactly is a midwife?

One of the major differences between obstetricians and midwives is philosophies that ground their training.

While midwives can serve their patients in different settings, they are mostly known in assisting in home births or at birth centers. They also tend to focus on natural births. The Midwives Alliance of North America describes training for midwives here. You can read about natural births by clicking here.

The American College of Nurse-Midwives cites the National Center for Health Statistics in stating certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives attended 332,107 births in 2014.

CNMs/CMs practice wherever women give birth. The American College of Nurse-Midwives also states the majority of CNM/CM-attended births occurred in hospitals (94.2%), while 3% occurred in freestanding birth centers, and 2.7% occurred in homes in 2014.

You don’t have to choose one or the other in care though. The American Association of Birth Centers says physicians and midwives can work together. Midwives will assist women wanting less medical intervention but will work with hospitals and their staff when things get complicated. One local hospital recently hired a CNM.

Here are the laws in our four states:

  • Kentucky: Midwives must obtain a permit, but the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has not issued any new permits since 1975
  • Illinois: Only doctors and CNM’s are legally allowed to attend to a home birth
  • Tennessee: does not have a written law about midwives
  • Missouri: Midwifery is legal for anyone certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) or North American Registry of Midwives (NARM)