Ask the Expert: Certified Nurse Midwives

Ask the Expert: Certified Nurse Midwives (File photo: MGN Online)

Many women think to go to a certified nurse midwife during pregnancy and childbirth, but that’s only a part of what they do. A CNM helps women throughout their lifetime by providing an array of services including gynecological exams, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, labor and delivery care, hormone therapy and much more.

Education and training
With extensive education, training, and state and national certification requirements, a CNM can care for most of your needs. A graduate-level master degree is required to be a practicing nurse midwife, but some even go on to receive a doctoral degree. A CNM is a registered nurse with advance training in OB/GYN specialties, along with midwifery-specific training.

Adolescent care: A CNM can provide care to young women during transitional stages, including puberty and maturation, and a CNM is an ideal choice for a young woman’s first gynecological experience. By helping young women to care for their body, they provide guidance and mentoring on concerns such as having an irregular menstrual cycle to understanding the active role they need to take in their health.

Contraception: For those who haven’t previously been sexually active, a CNM can provide coaching and counseling on contraceptive methods and help women feel empowered with their options. Birth control is not a one size fits all, and there are several methods including barrier, hormonal, surgical – to name a few. CNMs provide pre-marital exams and services for those planning to become sexually active in the near future.

Annual well woman exam: Women should schedule a well woman exam each year as a preventative measure, and a CNM can provide this exam. This is a time to discuss health concerns and personal and family medical history. The exam can include breast and cervical screening, PAP smears, lab work, blood pressure testing and more.

Gynecological problem visits: A CNM will evaluate your overall health and condition and provide treatment as needed. Common gynecological problems they can treat include urinary tract and yeast infections, STD testing and PMS management. They can even refer a woman to mammography or another specialist for further care.

Menopause: After giving birth, a woman can continue her relationship with her CNM through menopause and beyond. There’s lots a CNM can do to help a woman make the transition and to alleviate some of the undesirable side effects. They can help with sexual health and even hormonal therapy, including supplements and other treatments.

Midwives focus not only on providing physical support to women, but emotional support. The next time you’re ready to call an OB/GYN for your next visit, consider a midwife for your ongoing care.