A certified nurse midwife can meet with women and their families during the pregnancy journey to provide the best possible outcome. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

You probably didn’t hear about it, but a few weeks ago the pregnancy world celebrated its annual National Midwifery Week.

It reminded me of a few things, including the fact I’d been meaning to give a shout out to the 20 certified nurse midwives who work at Spectrum Health.

In our pregnancy classes, the topic of midwives comes up often. Moms-to-be are curious about what midwives can do, what they can’t do and so forth.

In the U.S., about 8 percent of babies are born by certified nurse midwives.

There are two primary types of midwives: certified nurse midwife and certified professional midwife.

A certified nurse midwife, often referred to as a CNM, can practice all over the United States and must be an RN who has also completed graduate studies, as well as successfully completing a national exam.

At Spectrum Health, you can choose a certified nurse midwife for your prenatal care, postpartum care and delivery.

Certified nurse midwives can also do family planning, well-women care, care during menopause and more. They can handle all low-risk pregnancies and collaborate with the OB-GYN physicians for risks the patient might have. They cannot perform surgery.

Certified professional midwives, or CPMs, specialize in home birth. That’s why they are often referred to as home-birth midwives. A certified professional midwife doesn’t necessarily need any formal education, as the work is generally learned through on-the-job training. Spectrum Health does not employ CPMs.

The certified nurse midwives at Spectrum Health offer personalized care to women before, during and after pregnancy. They work in partnership with OB-GYN physicians.

“The word midwife means ‘with woman,'” said Courtney Hilbert, CNM, a Spectrum Health certified nurse midwife. “I am passionate about providing evidence-based, high-quality care to women throughout their lives.”

The midwifery-led care model has been studied quite extensively over the years and various research has indicated that midwife-led care typically leads to less-complicated births, among various benefits.

One study found that midwives bring a number of benefits to the equation, including:

  • Fewer preterm births and fewer medical interventions
  • Reduction in the use of epidurals
  • Less likely to have an episiotomy or instrumental birth

The American College of Nurse-Midwives maintains that each woman should take the course of treatment that is best for her.

In an interview with the American Journal of Nursing, former American College of Nurse-Midwives president Ginger Breedlove said that certified nurse midwives need to be integrated into health care systems to improve outcomes and lower costs.

“Our goal is for all women to experience a healthy pregnancy and be cared for by certified nurse midwives (who are) working in collaboration with physician colleagues for seamless transfer to higher levels of care when indicated,” Breedlove said.

Hilbert agrees with that approach.

“Certified nurse midwives offer a safe, high-quality alternative approach to health care for women,” Hilbert said. “Spectrum Health’s collaborative model of care—certified nurse midwives working in partnership with OB-GYN physicians—ensures the best health outcomes for moms and babies.”