A midwife is a specialist in helping women give birth. Midwives help women give birth at home, in a clinic or in a hospital. To work in midwifery, you typically need graduate nursing education, and you also need a tolerance for some of the drawbacks of the profession. The average annual salary for a nurse midwife was $91,070 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Part of the reason moms choose a midwife is because of a more natural experience. This naturalistic approach includes letting the child arrive on its own time. Therefore, a midwife with a steady client base may get calls at all hours of the day or night to deliver a baby or respond to client distress. This irregular schedule makes it difficult for some to maintain a proper balance between work, home and personal life.
Along with irregular schedules, midwives also have to put in long hours on many days. Most maintain regular office schedules during the day, either in a hospital, clinic or private practice setting. They hold regular meetings with clients just like an OB/GYN does when working with pregnant patients. After the long day, the midwife may get called away in the evening, overnight or before work in the morning for a delivery.
Lack of Medical Respect
The midwife profession has become very regulated and professionally advanced as of 2013. However, some doctors and people view midwifery birth as an old-fashioned, medieval means of giving birth. Thus, even highly trained midwives may deal with a lack of respect from physicians and OB/GYNs. Midwives may also struggle to get hospital privileges in some cases, which restricts their abilities to provide delivery services to patients in some areas.
Bad Birth Outcomes
A groundbreaking study by the National Birth Center in January 2013 revealed that nurse midwives have a much lower rate of cesarean births, lower health care costs and relatively equal infant mortality rates to traditional hospital births. Despite the impressive results, 1.9 percent of hospital transfers after a midwife delivery were due to emergencies. Some newborns do die after a midwife birth. Long-time midwives experience family distress and grief multiple times over a career. These experiences are often amplified by their closeness with moms and families.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012: Nurse Midwives
- Nurse.com: Certified Nurse Midwife
- Explore Health Careers: Nurse Midwife
- American College of Nurse-Midwives: New Study Shows Midwife-Led Birth Centers Improve Outcomes and Lower Health Care Costs
- American College of Nurse-Midwives: New Study Shows Success of Midwife-led Birth Centers
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images