Information about Midwifery
Compassionate, comprehensive maternity care
Certified nurse midwives provide complete prenatal care and monitoring throughout your pregnancy and journey toward motherhood. During delivery, your midwife is your birth advocate, and works with you to help you achieve the birth experience you’ve envisioned. Midwives are experts at helping women in labor and perform water births at both area hospitals.
At the clinic, midwifery care occurs within our OB/GYN department. Our midwives work alongside board-certified obstetricians when deeper collaboration is necessary to protect the health of a woman or her baby.
In addition to overseeing pregnancy and births, our midwives provide instruction in mother and infant care, nutrition, exercise, and breastfeeding. They offer advice on family-related issues as well, from birth control, to introducing siblings to your new baby, to helping you understand what you can expect in the first days, weeks, and months with your newborn.
The CenteringPregnancy program offers an incredible way to tap into the experience clinic midwives. With this program, women in similar stages of pregnancy meet together periodically as a group to learn about care topics together and build a support network. A midwife guides conversations and activities, and also completes all physical health assessments. Learn more about the CenteringPregnancy program and our team of nurse midwives.
In these trying and confusing times, Vancouver Clinic Midwives are committed to being with you throughout your pregnancy, labour and postpartum. The midwives will continue to care for you via phone, video visits or in person for your health care needs. There are changes that are happening as we move forward to maintain everyone’s safety. Most importantly, at the hospitals we are no longer offering waterbirths, nitrous for pain management, and are allowing only one support person for the time you are admitted in labour. Please contact your midwifery team if you have questions.
- Birth control and family planning
- Breast exams
- Breastfeeding support
- CenteringPregnancy program
- Cervical cancer screening (Pap smear)
- Labor and delivery
- Postpartum care
- Prenatal care
- STD screening and treatment
- Water births
- Well-women exams and checkups
See more women’s health services available at the clinic.
What type of special training do your midwives receive?
In addition to being registered nurses, all clinic midwives hold a master of science in nursing, a two-year program with strong emphasis on clinical training in midwifery. They are licensed through the Washington State Board of Nursing and have passed the American College of Nurse-Midwives national certification examination.
Can I have an epidural if I have midwifery care?
Yes, you may still have an epidural. However, if you are planning a natural childbirth, working with a midwife before and during delivery can help you obtain your goal. Birthing a baby is one of the most powerful experiences a woman will ever go through, and our midwives excel at helping you during this transformative moment in time.
Can I have a water birth with midwifery care?
At the clinic, our midwives are the only providers credentialed to help with water births. To be eligible to labor and deliver in water, women must have a healthy pregnancy and no significant risk factors. Women should always discuss the risks and benefits of a water birth with a midwife. While water can help women better cope with contractions, it doesn’t provide the same level of pain relief as an epidural. At the same time, women who plan and succeed in having a water birth tend to be extremely satisfied with their deliveries. Water births can be performed at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. Learn more about our water birth program.
May I use nitrous oxide during labor?
Mothers delivering at both area hospitals may choose to use nitrous oxide to cope with labor. Nitrous can be used during water births, and does not prevent a woman from receiving an epidural. All of our midwives have been trained on using this form of pain relief during labor.
Who can see a midwife?
Midwifery care isn’t limited to women who are starting or expanding their families. Our midwives see women from the start of adulthood through menopause and beyond, providing annual gynecologic exams, birth control options, and more. At the clinic, all new patients—whether they are pregnant or need to see a provider for women’s health issues—are first assessed by a midwife. Depending on patient needs, they will either stay with the midwifery group or be assigned an OB/GYN going forward.
Why should someone see a midwife instead of a primary care doctor?
Midwives have extra training in the health issues that women face. Beyond guiding women in pregnancy, they perform breast and pelvic exams and Pap smears, and are experts in birth control, STDs, and menstrual issues. Make an appointment with a midwife if you need a yearly well-woman exam or have questions about issues related to the female reproductive system.
At what age should someone start seeing a women’s health specialist?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls have their first gynecologic visit between the ages of 13 and 15 years old. Seeing a midwife or OB/GYN at this age offers an opportunity for girls to: learn if their periods are normal and address any issues, discuss safe and healthy relationships, and find out how to prevent pregnancy and STDs. Pelvic exams and Pap tests usually aren’t necessary until age 21. By establishing a relationship early, girls have access to accurate medical information and caring support as they navigate their teen years.
What if my pregnancy becomes “high risk”?
Most pregnancies are low risk, but if issues arise, our midwives work alongside some of the best OB/GYNs and perinatoligists in Washington. If complications arise, you don’t have to leave your midwife. You can continue to see your midwife and see an obstetrician or perinatologist for management of complications.
Birthing a baby is perhaps one of the most powerful experiences a woman will ever go through, no matter how or where you choose to birth. Our midwives are with you during this transformative moment in time. You can expect them to respect and honor your birthing decisions made along the way, to guide you when confusion persists, and to support you diligently before and after your baby arrives.