Frequently Asked Questions
The certified nurse-midwives who practice with the UW Health Nurse-Midwifery Service in Madison, Wisconsin, view pregnancy and birth as normal, healthy events in the life cycle. We believe that every individual has the right to safe, satisfying health care, and to be treated with respect.
We value the strength and integrity of a woman's body. We encourage women to be active participants in maintaining their health during pregnancy, birth and throughout their lifespan.
We respect the diversity of beliefs, values and expectations of our clients and will assist them in personalizing their care. While the provision of physical care is an important aspect of nurse-midwifery, we also believe that emotional and social support, as well as education, are essential components of health care.
We believe that it is through education and support that women and their families are empowered to be actively involved in making decisions that affect their own wellness.
A Holistic Option for Birth
Ancient Jews called her "the wise woman." The French, "sage-femme" and the German, "weise frau." First recorded in 1300, the English word "midwife" means "with woman," and although it may seem like one of the newest choices in women's health care, midwives have been at the side of women during childbirth for centuries.
Nurse-midwifery experienced a resurgence in the 1970s and has grown in popularity ever since. Today's midwives, like the seven certified nursemidwives at UW Health, are respected medical professionals who deliver babies at hospitals.
Certified nurse-midwives are licensed registered nurses certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives. To be certified, a registered nurse must have accredited advanced training in nurse midwifery, demonstrate clinical competence and pass a rigorous national certification exam. More than 5,700 certified nurse-midwives now practice across the U.S., attending almost 10 percent of all births.
"Every woman has different goals or wishes for her pregnancy, and each should choose a health care provider that helps her meet those goals," says Judith McNeel, a certified nurse-midwife at the UW Health Women's Health Center.
"Nurse-midwives offer women an holistic approach, incorporating the psychological and emotional factors in a woman's life," McNeel adds. "We have the opportunity to spend more time with patients, providing care throughout pregnancy, plus supportive care during labor and after delivery."
All UW Health-certified nurse-midwives rotate at their clinic sites and take call at Meriter Hospital's Birthing Center. They also have admitting privileges at Meriter Hospital, where 10 percent of births now have a midwife in attendance.
Individualized Prenatal Care
When a woman chooses the UW Health midwife service, McNeel and her certified nurse-midwife partners provide individualized prenatal care, education and medical care after delivery.
Visits occur monthly, starting early in pregnancy, then with increasing frequency as pregnancy advances and nears term.
Most women will not need to see a physician during their pregnancy or birth. Nevertheless, UW Health midwives work in collaboration with UW Health obstetricians and gynecologists, so a physician is available at all times for consultation or if complications arise.
Even if a physician becomes involved during labor, the nurse-midwives will continue their supportive care throughout and after delivery.
UW Health midwife services also extend beyond pregnancy and birth to include routine physical exams and health assessments from the teenage years through menopause. They provide contraceptive counseling and treat such problems as vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, menstrual problems and pelvic pain.