Black mothers are dying in childbirth at staggering rates. In recognition of Black Maternal Health Week, we are hosting a special broadcast featuring a panel of healthcare professionals and advocates dedicated to improving Black maternal health outcomes.
What are the two types of midwives?
Randi Matthews: CPMs are certified professional midwives and CMS, are certified nurse-midwives. There are also additional labels that are different from state to state, but those are the most commonly used – certified professional midwives operate outside of the house. They are helping mothers deliver in their homes and in freestanding birth centers. A birth center is a place where midwives can see patients, provide care, deliver babies, and it’s very much like a home setting. It’s a place where it’s comfortable for women to be, and they can labor in different places and have different spaces and things for them to do while they’re in labor and giving birth. Unlike a hospital where you’re kind of confined to a room in a lot of senses and then certified nurse-midwives work hand in hand with the medical professionals in the hospital. A lot of times they are working with an OB and they are the caregiver or the deliverer of the birth. But if anything happens or anything transpires, there’s an OB right there to take on the next part of the situation if anything were to arise.
How do midwives and OB/GYN work together to help moms have safer pregnancies and deliveries?
Dr. Fatu Forna: Midwives in the hospital work in a collaborative fashion with doctors. I am an OB-GYN. I take care of women during pregnancy, I deliver babies. But I specialize more in high-risk pregnancies in surgeries having to do C-sections when things get complicated. I come in and help midwives who work with lower-risk pregnancies providing that key here for which the majority of pregnancies are kind of lower risk and things go well. I was fortunate to work in places where the doctor and the midwives work side by side. We have panels of patients who see both of us. We see the patients together, the midwife primarily, does most of the care, delivers the baby. They don’t necessarily need me there, but I am there if a complication were to happen, if the patient ends up needing an instrumental vacuum delivery or C-section.
What is meant by the fourth trimester?
Dr. Renee: A lot of people don’t talk about it, but even you mentioned that before, Dr. Patsu, you said a lot of midwives carry on after the baby is born. That is something that I think doulas do as well. I know my cousin used a doula last year, and I know that she helped a lot with lactation support and other things after the baby was here. Whereas, traditionally six weeks after you have the baby, that’s it… You’re on your own. A doula or midwife will support the mom several months after delivery.
The health of black women during pregnancy is explored further in this discussion. Click the link to hear more.