Prenatal Care From a Midwife
There are three different venues that midwives practice in and three different types of midwives. Midwives practice in the hospital, in birthing centers and in homes. Traditionally, hospitals have only hired certified nurse midwives who work either for the hospital or an ob/gyn practice. Birth centers tend to be run by licensed midwives, who may be certified professional midwives. You can find more information about types of midwives at Midwives Alliance of North America.
Up until the seventies, home births were attended by what was known as a granny midwife. Granny midwives either learned to be a midwife from their mothers or grandmothers, local doctors they went to births with or by hands-on training from another granny midwife. Granny midwives are found in every culture around the world, and they still deliver the majority of the world's babies. These grannies also may be called traditional midwives or spiritual midwives, and they have very little if any formal training. I started out as a granny midwife, as did Ina May Gaskin and many of the mothers of the modern midwifery movement in the United States. You won't find many of us left practicing in the United States.
A midwife today will take a lot of individual time to explain testing, suggest proper diet and give you emotional support in those times you want to sit down and bawl. A midwife will be there with you for this most important event: the labor and birth of your child. Midwives tend to shy away from medical interventions and are not inclined to do unnecessary episiotomies or refer a woman for a Cesarean section unless it is absolutely necessary. Birth center births and home delivery by midwives also are an alternative for those without health insurance.