What Does a Midwife Do? | FAQ with Jessica Bergman, CNM

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We recently had the chance to interview Jessica Bergman, Certified Nurse Midwife, to learn more about what midwives do and the types of services she provides to patients. Read below to learn about Jessica’s role as a Women’s Health provider at Mercer Health.

Why did you decide to become a Nurse Midwife?

That’s a good question, and I couldn’t really tell you the exact reason why. I got the “itch” back while I was in highschool, and I began working on becoming a midwife as soon as I finished high school. I have always liked the idea of women supporting other women and the sacredness of childbirth, so I seemed to naturally get pulled into the idea of midwifery. People say that midwifery is a calling, and I do believe that I was called to be a midwife.

What kind of education, training and licensure is required to become a Nurse Midwife?

A nurse midwife is a type of advanced practice registered nurse, also called a nurse practitioner. To become a nurse practitioner, you need to have your Bachelor’s degree in nursing (so attend a four year nursing school, or attend an associate’s degree nursing school and take additional classes afterwards), and then you go on to graduate school to receive your Master’s degree, which is an additional two to two and a half years of school. The midwife program requires 675 hours of clinical time and the delivery of forty babies, and it is meant to  build upon the years of experience that you gained as a nurse. After you graduate with your master’s degree, you take a national certification exam. Passing the exam allows you to apply for your state licensure as a certified nurse midwife.

Do you only provide care for women during pregnancy?

Nope! Although people tend to imagine midwives as women who go into people’s homes to deliver babies, most midwives practice in hospitals. Midwives are trained to care for women from their teenage years to menopause, pregnant and not pregnant. They can preform pap smears, prescribe birth control, manage difficult periods, and treat minor infections, like strep throat or a rash.

What is the difference between a Nurse Midwife and an OB/GYN?

The main difference is the training and what they can treat. An OB/GYN is a doctor who has gone to medical school and completed a residency, and they are trained to manage complicated or “abnormal” pregnancy and gynecological situations as well as perform surgeries, like c-sections. Midwives are trained in “normal” pregnancy and gynecology situations. Although we are able to take care of abnormal situations, we are trained to recognize when a situation changes from “normal” to “abnormal,” and we will make a plan with the OB/GYN if that happens. Nurse midwives and OB/GYNs make a great team, since midwives can handle the more routine matters and can allow the doctors to focus their efforts and training on more complicated cases.

What services can you offer patients as a Nurse Midwife?

I can do a lot of what an OB/GYN can do – I can do your yearly wellness exam and pap smears, prescribe birth control, insert IUDs, provide prenatal and postpartum care, deliver babies, give stitches, and prescribe pain medication. I cannot perform surgeries, but I can direct you to where you need to go to get a surgery, and I can also help during the surgery.

Is a Nurse Midwife the same as a doula?

No – a doula is a labor coach, who is a person who you can ask questions to and can assist you in different positions and pain management techniques during labor. A doula cannot do cervical exams or deliver the baby. Midwives and doulas make a great team, especially if you would like to try for a natural birth!

Can I have an epidural if I see a midwife?

Yes you can! I encourage my patients to do whatever feels right, and I will support whatever type of labor you plan to do, whether you get an epidural or not!

What is your favorite part of your job?     

My favorite part of my job is that I am able to build lifelong relationships with my patients. As an obstetric provider, I am able to see women multiple times throughout their pregnancy, help them during their labor and birth, and help them for many years afterwards for all of their women’s health needs!

Jessica sees patients at the Community Medical Center in Celina. Schedule an appointment by calling 419-586-3198. Learn more about Mercer Health’s Women’s Health services, as well as the Childbirth Center at mercer-health.com. 

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