Normal, Healthy Childbirth for Women and Families
The World Health Organization recommends birth interventions be used only when necessary. However, the norm for birth in the U.S. today includes the use of technology and interventions that are not proven to benefit healthy women and babies during childbirth. Nurse-midwives are experts in supporting women in normal, healthy childbirth and in understanding when women and their babies would benefit from birth interventions.
The American College of Nurse Midwives has produced the document linked below to help women and their families understand the health benefits of normal birth and how to increase the chances that a woman will have a normal birth.
Birth Settings and Midwives
Many people in the United States today do not understand the role that midwives play in healthcare today. The truth is that midwives approach healthcare using science and evidence. They base their expert, personalized service for women and newborns on their education and experience.
Using a midwife will give you access to professionals who practice in hospitals, clinics, medical offices, free-standing birth centers and/or private settings. Many midwives practice in more than one setting, such as hospitals and physician’s offices, and often work closely with other health care providers. You have options about where you would like to give birth. To find out more, follow this link
When choosing a women’s health care provider, it is important to know your full range of options so that you can make an informed decision. Your health care provider’s services and approach to care should match your unique goals and values. Asking potential providers questions about their education and type of care will help you decide who will best meet your needs. Below are some sample questions to ask women’s health care providers that may help you make your decision. For more information, check out the ACNM Our Moment of Truth pages.
General Questions to Ask a Women’s Health Care Provider or Maternity Care Provider
- Did you graduate from a nationally accredited midwifery or medical education program? What is your degree?
- Are you licensed to practice in this state?
- What is your certification? (For midwives: Have you completed a national exam to earn a midwifery certification? What is that certification?) (For physicians: Are you board certified? In what specialty?)
- How will you determine if the care you specialize in is the right care for me?
- If I choose you as my health care provider, who else will be involved in my care?
- What types of health care services do you provide? Can you provide care for more general health needs like flu shots and minor illnesses?
- How long does it take to get an appointment and how long are typical waits at the office before I see you?
- How long will my appointments be when I come for my yearly checkups and pap tests?
- Do you offer family planning resources and birth control options?
- How can you help me understand health care information and make good health care decisions?
- Can my family members come with me to my appointments?
- At which locations can I receive my care?
- Who do I call when the office is not open?
Additional Questions for Maternity Care Providers
- Do you provide maternity care services?
- Do you provide home, birth center, or hospital care?
- How much time will you spend with me during each prenatal visit?
- How do you work with women who have birth plans or specific preferences for their childbirth experiences?
- What is your rate of cesarean? Induction of labor? Episiotomy? Forceps or vacuum birth? Internal or external monitors?
- How will you help me manage the pain of labor?
- What is your experience with women who do not want to use medications during labor?
- What is your experience with women who do want to use medications during labor?
- How will you determine what level of medical attention I need during pregnancy, birth, and other significant life events?
- What role will my birth partner play? Are my family and my doula welcome?
- Are there “routine” procedures and rules that you follow during the final weeks of pregnancy or once I am in labor? (For example, do you recommend IV fluids, food and drink restrictions, or episiotomy?) How can I get the most information about them, so that I can choose those that are right for me?
- How is the care you provide for low-risk, healthy women different than the care you provide for women with health complications?
- Is there anything about my or my baby’s health that you would consider high risk?
- If I have complications or need to have a cesarean birth, who will be involved in my care? Will you still be involved in my care?
- What will happen if complications arise during birth? What if I need the care of a physician?
- If a cesarean is required, will you recommend that I try a vaginal birth in my next pregnancy, or will you advise a repeat cesarean?
A doula is person who is trained to assist and support women and her family during childbirth. Doulas use emotional, physical, and information support to help women have a safe, empowering birth experience. Several national and international organizations provide formal certification for doulas. The costs of hiring a certified doula may be covered by some private insurance plans (families are encouraged to contact their individual health plan to confirm coverage).
With the support of a doula, clinical studies have shown that women are less likely to use pain relief medications, less likely to have cesarean delivery, and more likely to report an overall positive birth experience.
Doulas are most often hired by an expectant mother to provide non-clinical care and support during labor. Many doulas may also offer services during pregnancy (classes, etc.). Some doulas may be hired to provide only birth or postpartum support, depending on a family’s needs. Certified Nurse-Midwives strongly encourage families to hire a certified doula to provide non-clinical care and support to mothers during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
Below are some resource links for finding a Doula:
Labor and Birth
Following are links to resources from the American College of Nurse Midwives on a range of labor and birth topics. These “Share with Women” education pages are published in the Journal of Nurse Midwifery, and are designed to provide clear, up-to-date information to women and their families on a range of clinical topics.
The Labor and Birth section of the “Share with Women” education pages cover everything from figuring out when you are in labor to helping women understand options for pain control in labor. See the link below to browse these resources.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) affirms that all women and families should have access to accurate, evidence-based information regarding the role of immunizations in the prevention of disease so they can make informed choices about the use of vaccinations for themselves and their families.
Recommendations for Adult Immunizations: Why vaccination is recommended, how immunizations work, safety information, & currently recommended immunizations for women.
- CDC Vaccine Resources for Pregnant Women
- CDC Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women
- CDC Immunization Schedules
- CDC Spanish Language Influenza Print Materials
- CDC Vaccination Materials
- Vacunas de inmunización – CDC Spanish language site with vaccine information, immunization schedules, videos and e-cards.
Childbirth Preparation Resource Page Info:
The focus Nurse-Midwifery care is to advance the well-being of our clients by working in partnership with women and families to provide high-quality care that addresses their individual needs for support and care. Childbirth education is an evidence-based tool that enhances the ability of women to actively participate in this partnership and make decisions about their care.
There is a wide range of childbirth education courses available to women in Georgia. Some are based at a local hospital, others are provided by independent childbirth educators in your local area. We encourage women are to find the class that best fits their unique needs.
The resources below are not a complete list of resources available in our state or a direct endorsement of services. We hope that by providing these resources women have a broader set of childbirth preparation information to investigate & additional resources may be added over time.
Childbirth Connection: Information & resources about pregnancy, selecting a caregiver, current evidence for care in pregnancy.
Giving Birth With Confidence: Powered by Lamaze International. Information about preparing for childbirth, resources for parents, breastfeeding resources.
Bradley Method: Focuses on natural childbirth preparation. Resource directory available to find local classes.
Hypnobabies: Classes cover self-hypnosis & relaxation methods in addition to childbirth education topics. Resource directory available to find local classes.
Hynobirthing: Classes & supplemental materials cover self-hypnosis relaxation methods for childbirth. Also known as the Mongan method. Resource directory available to find local classes under “Find a class”
Georgia Resources for Childbirth Classes:
Georgia Birth Network: Local Childbirth Education resources (Atlanta/Athens/Columbus/Savannah) available under the “Directories” tab
Confident Childbirth: Classes near Metro Atlanta & Athens
Baby Steps: Classes take place around Metro Atlanta.