Stony Brook Medicine Health News
What is a midwife?

What is a Midwife?

Midwives have a holistic approach to women’s care that recognizes the needs of their patients from adolescence into their childbearing years and through menopause. 

For generations, midwives have cared for women by recognizing their needs and understanding the natural rhythms of their lives, which includes sexuality, pregnancy, childbearing, and menopause. 

What is a Midwife?

midwife is a trained healthcare professional specializing in providing health care services for women of all ages, from adolescence to menopause and beyond. Midwives are skilled experts in women’s health and work independently, as well as collaboratively, with physicians. 

The midwifery scope of practice emphasizes a holistic approach, offering personalized care that includes health education, counseling, and assisting with labor and delivery. Midwives empower women to make informed decisions about their reproductive health, promoting a positive and patient centered childbirth experience. Midwives can work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, or supporting home births, and play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of both the mother and the newborn.

Midwifery Services

Certified Midwives (also known as Licensed Midwives) are health professionals who have completed educational requirements specified by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), including a Master’s degree, and have obtained competencies for board certification in midwifery practice by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). 

Midwives provide various services including:

  • Gynecologic services, including pap smear and breast exams
  • Birth control counseling and family planning services
  • IUD and Nexplanon placement
  • Preconception counseling and prenatal care
  • Diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Care during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period
  • Assistance with breastfeeding
  • Colposcopies and endometrial biopsies 
  • General health screenings and health promotion

Midwives work in settings that include patient homes, birthing centers, and hospitals. For general women’s health care, midwives practice within medical offices, just like an OB/GYN. If a patient develops a medical condition that requires a higher level of treatment, a midwife refers her to an OB/GYN, maternal/fetal medicine specialist, or other specialists as needed. 

Holistic and Patient-Centered Care

Midwives support their patients’ childbirth experiences with holistic and patient-centered care. They provide options for women during normal labor progression, including the ability to:

  • Customize their birth setting (use of dim lighting, music, etc.)
  • Wear their own clothing
  • Labor and give birth in any position
  • Labor in the shower
  • Consume light foods and fluids during labor

Midwives also support a woman’s right to choose a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) and vaginal twin birth.

Midwives deliver a unique style of care that not only emphasizes a patient’s physical health, but focuses on her emotional, spiritual, and social needs as well. From the start of pregnancy to postpartum, midwives think of their patients as active participants in their own childbirth journeys. During labor, they provide continuous support, whether the mother chooses to natural naturally or with the assistance of epidural anesthesia. Because midwives also a variety of options during labor and deliver, they help to minimize the need for unnecessary interventions. 

Post-delivery, midwives continue to support their patients with guidance on recovery, breastfeeding, and general female health care through menopause. 

The Division of Midwifery at Stony Brook University Hospital has been serving women and families since 1996. From a staff of one, we now have 17 midwives on our team. Our philosophy is to place the needs and desires of women first, while maintaining a safe and supportive environment. At Stony Brook, all midwives are faculty members in the Department of OB/GYN. 

  • Kristen Clemens, CM
    Certified Midwife
    Clinical Instructor of Obstetrics & Gynecology

    Graduating with honors from the Master’s Program at SUNY Downstate, Kristen began her career practicing full scope Midwifery at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. She has been with the Stony Brook Midwives for over 5 years and is looking forward to empowering women to be involved in their own care.

This article is intended to be general and/or educational in nature. Always consult your healthcare professional for help, diagnosis, guidance and treatment.