Sunday, September 26th, 2021

Midwives have broad role in modern healthcare

Posted: Friday, September 22, 2017

Shelly Boone, certified nurse midwife, smiles broadly when she talks about her calling as a certified nurse midwife.

“I feel like it’s my gifting to develop relationships with other women,” she says. “Building trust and getting to know them. I’ve worked in nursing across the whole spectrum, but women’s health has always been my niche. I just love working with women and delivering babies.”

Delivering babies is a major focus for Boone as a midwife, but she also provides care for women’s health issues from adolescence through menopause to the elder years. “Midwife,” she says, “means ‘with woman.’ And I’m here to walk beside my patients no matter what stage of life they’re in.”

Many people are unfamiliar with the role that clinical midwives play in modern healthcare. They may think midwives have little formal education and only focus on home births.

That is an outdated view, Boone says: “Most midwives in the United States have a master’s degree and are required to pass a national certification exam. And while midwives practice in medical offices, hospitals, freestanding birth centers, clinics and private settings, most of the births they attend are in hospitals. In 2012, that number was about 95 percent.”

In fact, certified midwives and certified nurse midwives can provide much broader care than many people realize. They work side-by-side with OB/GYNs, other physicians, and all members of the healthcare team. They can prescribe medications and treatments, and order needed medical tests. They provide healthcare services to girls and women, including general health check-ups, screenings and vaccinations; pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care; and well-woman gynecologic care.

Can a midwife care for a pregnant woman with a chronic health condition? “A midwife still may be able to provide some or all direct care services,” says Boone. “In other cases, a midwife may play a supportive role and help you work with other healthcare providers. In a high-risk pregnancy, a midwife can help you access resources to support your goals for childbirth, provide emotional support during challenging times, or work alongside specialists who are experts in your high-risk condition to ensure safe, healthy outcomes.”

Boone, who worked as a family nurse practitioner at a Wabash clinic for 12 years before earning her midwifery certification, also points out that midwives are experts in helping women cope with labor pain. They can offer a variety of interventions, from position changes and water therapy to injections of saline solution at pressure points, to make moms more comfortable during delivery.

“Whether you wish to use relaxation techniques or movement during labor – or try IV, epidural, or other medications – the midwife can work with you to help meet your desired approach to birth,” she explains.

When it comes to the birthing experience, Boone says, “The mom calls the shots. And it’s a team effort. It’s my job to supervise a normal, healthy pregnancy and delivery, and to recognize when/if there is something abnormal. It’s about being present, and guiding the mom to do the job her body needs her to do.”

Certified nurse midwife Shelly Boone, right, talks with Kim Knafel, site supervisor for Parkview Physicians Group – OB/GYN, between patient appointments. Boone began providing care for Huntington County women at the office on the Parkview Huntington Hospital campus in August.”