Your wellness during pregnancy is vital to your health and that of your baby. While many people automatically see an obstetrician when pregnant, other professionals may be better suited for your pregnancy. A midwife is a trained professional who assists healthy women during delivery. You can have a midwife at home, at the hospital, or at a birthing center.

What Kind of Training Does a Midwife Have?

Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are certified nurses and midwives. CMs (certified midwives) are non-nurses who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree and completed a midwifery program, and certified professional midwives (CPMs) are non-nurses who have training and clinical experience, but may not have a higher degree. Direct entry midwives (DEMs) are usually the ones who practice in homes. Typically, they are not accredited, and they are not licensed to practice in West Virginia. All accredited midwives must have passed a national exam, but CPMs may not be able to practice in certain jurisdictions.

For your health and your baby’s health, you should avoid hiring a midwife who is not professionally trained, licensed, and acting under a doctor’s supervision. Midwives are good choices for individuals who want the added support one provides and who do not want a more traditional medical approach to childbirth.

What Do Midwives Do?

In addition to helping women deliver babies during childbirth, midwives offer a range of services. They may be heavily involved during the pregnancy, offering planning and helping you develop a regimen for eating, exercising, and taking medicines/supplements throughout the pregnancy. They provide emotional support as well as some medical care including exams and testing. A midwife may also refer you to other doctors and keep an eye on your physical and emotional health. Typically, you choose the midwife fit for your family and for professional training.

Do Midwives Have to Carry Insurance?

Although insurance is available to licensed midwives in West Virginia, they are not required to carry it. As of 2008, only five midwives in the state carried insurance. Midwives acting under a doctor’s guidance may need malpractice insurance. In the absence of insurance, many midwives rely on their personal relationship with their patients, informed consent, and a sense of mutual responsibility.

Some midwives, as well as other health care professionals, avoid carrying insurance if it is not required because they think it would make them targets in legal actions. However, not carrying insurance means any judgments against such medical professionals may be their own personal responsibility. Nurses and midwives could lose their licenses if someone brings a court case against them for medical negligence.

If Midwives Aren’t Required to Carry Insurance, Should I Hire One?

If you are interested in a midwife as an alternative to an obstetrician, there are several factors to consider. Your health, your willingness to assume risk, and your desire for a largely unassisted birth all play a role in whether a midwife is a good option for you. Investigate the midwife’s credentials extensively before hiring.

In the event that you or your child suffers harm because of a midwife’s negligence, you may want to explore legal options. The midwife may be liable, as a licensed medical practitioner, for any resulting pain and suffering. For more information about pregnancy and childbirth malpractice claims, contact the West Virginia medical malpractice attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC.