When I was 15 and said I wanted to be a midwife, I was envisioning what most people envision. The wise woman who comforts, protects and guides the laboring woman. The one who is wrapped around her, or holding her hands, swaying with her, looking deep into her eyes, whispering knowing words in her ear, and guiding her loving to the other shore. And as much as I love midwives, this is not what the modern midwife is. I think most of us have the mythological fantasy of what a midwife is, but it's not quite accurate. A modern midwife in NYC is usually a CNM, certified nurse midwife, CM certified midwife, or CPM, certified practical midwife. They go to medical school after their undergrad, popular programs here are at NYU, Columbia, Yale and SUNY Downstate. Its a very intense training that prepares you for midwifery in hospitals, birthing centers and homes. Yes, midwives work in hospitals, they can be your primary care provider even if you want a hospital birth, even if you want an epidural, but I digress. Midwives today are great, and they are medically trained, which is also great. They often provide a more personable bedside manner, but they do not do what many of us fantasize they do.
In a hospital setting, most midwives work on shifts as part of a group practice. Just like OBs. They will meet you at the hospital and most likely have other patients in labor at the same time. They will not stay in the room with you while you labor, they come in periodically to assess your labor and make any decisions needed. The nurses will be responsible for your vitals and administering most meds if indicated. They will be more present at the end for catching the baby, again, just like an OB. They do have better outcomes statistically and you do have a better chance of a non-medicated vaginal birth with a midwife, but they're not doing what we often fantasize they do.
I learned that the hard way when I didn't have a doula for my first birth. I thought that because I went with a midwifery practice, I didn't need a doula. I thought that the midwife would be draped around me, supporting me, helping me ride those crazy contractions. Nope. She just caught the baby. I learned later that she did nothing wrong. I learned that what I really needed was a doula! For my second birth when I had my doula I got all the hands on, and the support, and the words, and the touch and massage and calming presence....yes I realized, I want to be a doula! ...not a midwife. That was what I was envisioning for over 20 years since high school but I didn't know the word, nor did I know such a profession existed!
Your NYC Doula