Modern Midwifery
Carolina Parent|December 2019
Modern Midwifery
This traditional birthing option has evolved to meet the needs of today’s pregnant moms
Samantha Gratton

When you or someone you know is pregnant, there are multiple appointments throughout the pregnancy leading up to the big event: labor and delivery. Having support throughout that journey is pivotal to a pregnant woman’s care and experience. For some, the person providing that support is a midwife.

“Midwives have been around as long as women have been having babies,” says Sarah Dumas, a certified nurse midwife and clinical director at the Women’s Birth & Wellness Center in Chapel Hill. The term midwife means “with woman” and, for generations, it has been used to describe the person who assists a mother giving birth. Dumas is a second-generation midwife who grew up attending births as a Red Cross volunteer in a military hospital before going to nursing school, working in an intensive care unit and, later, attending midwifery school.

Traditionally, up until the 1900s, midwifery was passed down from one generation to another through apprenticeships. Today, it is a profession most commonly achieved after first working as a certified nurse before earning a master’s degree in a midwifery program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. This requires passing a certification examination as well.

“Nurse midwives, in training, learn well woman care, primary care, breast health, gynecology, contraception, pregnancy, birth, postpartum and newborn care (for the first 28 days of life),” Dumas says. “It’s got a breadth to it, certainly.”



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December 2019