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Call the Midwife: 4 ways modern midwifery is different than the TV show

Posted on Aug. 10, 2017 ( comments)
The PBS drama “Call the Midwife" is set in London and follows new midwife graduates in the 1950s and 60s.

By Misty Molina, CNM, ARNP

Like some of you, I’m a fan of the PBS show “Call the Midwife.” For those of you who haven’t watched it, this drama set in London follows new midwife graduates in the 1950s and 60s — and its funny, dramatic and always colorful plots have attracted a legion of followers.

I’m also happy to report much has changed in our world in the last 50-plus years. In fact, so much has changed that PBS and Detroit Public Television partnered recently with some midwives to discuss their role in modern childbirth and exactly what has changed.

To save you some surfing, I’ll provide — commercial free — what I think are the top four differences between the show’s portrayal and what actually happens today, right here at MultiCare.

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1. We don’t just deliver babies. Historically — and this dates back to London — midwives went to a nursing school and were trained to deliver babies at home (more on home births later).

Today, Certified Nurse-Midwives are registered nurses first. We also have advanced training, either a master’s or doctorate degree, and this includes a much broader array of schooling.

Our training, both classroom and clinical rotations, covers a full spectrum of normal women’s health issues from puberty to menopause and everything in between. We prescribe birth control and other medications, do annual exams, deliver babies, help guide you through menopause and more.

We generally work independent of physicians and refer to them just as any other primary care provider refers to a specialist when medically needed.

2. We deliver in hospitals. While some midwives deliver in homes or other settings, MultiCare’s Certified Nurse-Midwives deliver in the hospital. We believe this gives you the best of both worlds — a supportive caregiver, highly trained in normal deliveries (which most deliveries are) with the excellent back-up of a hospital and other support services.

3. Our approach and our philosophy influences everything we do. Midwives view childbirth and menopause, for example, as normal parts of a woman’s life. Our approach is to collaborate with you, listen to you and educate you — the why behind the what. This takes more time, and we are able to schedule appointment times accordingly.

It’s also the reason many of us chose to become midwives — we want this type of setting and love to work with women in a more holistic manner.

4. Our popularity is growing … and it’s not because of the PBS show! Some of us attribute the growing popularity of midwives to the birth of feminism in the 1960s and 70s. This certainly has contributed to many women seeking out midwives.

I also see a quiet movement among women, friend to friend, sister to sister, colleague to colleague, who visit a midwife, appreciate our philosophy and tell other women about us as a result.

In the end, I want to emphasize this: If you call a MultiCare midwife, you can be assured your experience will be much different than the PBS show. Fun and moving stories aside, that’s a good thing for you.

Find a midwife

Learn about midwifery services at MultiCare

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