Certified nurse midwives are experts in low-risk pregnancy, birth and gynecological care. “The role of a midwife in the birth of a child is to provide family-centered and woman-centered care, focusing on physical care, as well as emotional and social support,” says Emily Young Johnson, CNM at Winneshiek Medical Center. “Midwives listen to women and help women to make informed decisions about their health care, according to their own cultural values and personal preferences.”
Nurse midwives are well known for providing care during pregnancy and childbirth; however, they also provide well-woman care across the lifespan, from menarche to menopause, with services such as Pap smears, STD evaluation and treatment, urinary tract infection treatment, mammograms, and bone density testing. Emily says, “A nurse midwife is a resource, counselor, partner and provider of care throughout a woman’s life. We emphasize health education, enabling and empowering women to make informed decisions and experience the satisfaction of personal health.”
Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) are educated in programs accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives and certified by the ACNM Certification Council. They are licensed in all fifty states to practice in the hospital setting for the most part, but some also assist births in birth centers and the home. CNMs are also trained and credentialed in nursing.
Certified nurse midwives believe that pregnancy and birth are natural processes and significant milestones in the life of a woman and her family. They are trained to guide women into understanding of their bodies and the natural process of birth. “Pregnancy is a normal, healthy process, not an illness,” says Emily Young Johnson, CNM at Winneshiek Medical Center. “Midwifery care teaches women about their body and their pregnancy, and helps expectant mothers become a true part of this miraculous process.”
Similar to physicians, midwives attend to the physical care of the mother and baby by listening to the baby’s heart tones, measuring the mother’s belly and ordering tests such as ultrasounds. In addition, like many physicians, midwives are interested in more than just the physical care during pregnancy and labor. Emily says, “Midwives know that many factors contribute to the chances for a successful birth. A woman’s relationships and support systems, emotional and social stressors, spiritual beliefs, and the birthing experiences of her mother, sisters and friends have a significant impact on the pregnant mother.”
In the event of complications, the midwife will consult with a family practice doctor or obstetrician / gynecologist. If care is transferred to a doctor, the midwife continues to provide advocacy and support during the pregnancy and birth.
Nurse-midwives support a woman’s decision to have the type of birth experience she desires, as long as it is safe for her and her baby. At Winneshiek Medical Center, our midwife encourages patients to the positions that are most comfortable, whether it be in a rocking chair, the birthing ball, the shower or bath, or walking around. She also supports the use of massage, heat or cold therapy, hypnosis, or medication for pain relief if desired. The nurse midwife is also present during labor and delivery so that she can provide the most personalized and individualized care possible.
Certified Nurse-Midwives work closely with physicians through consultation and collaboration. In the event of a high risk pregnancy, or other questions or complications during gynecological and well woman care, a family practice physician or obstetrician/gynecologist will be consulted.
If you need a physical exam or Pap smear, breast exam or mammogram, birth control, or need evaluation and/or treatment for other gynecological concerns, Emily Young Johnson, Certified Nurse Midwife, is available to provide personalized care for all women from all backgrounds, religions and cultures.