Midwives have been around for ages, helping to care for women through all stages of pregnancy and birth, from prenatal care to labour and deliver to postpartum care. Today, there are two kinds of midwife, direct-entry midwives, who have been through midwifery education and are credentialed as Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), and certified nurse-midwives (CNM), who are registered nurses trained as midwives. Regardless of their training, midwives need to possess certain qualities required by their work.
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Not only do midwives work with pregnant women from all walks of life, but they must be able to communicate with their patients' families, as well as other health care providers, social workers or spiritual advisers. When working in a team, it's important that records be accurately kept and that all parts of the team can work well together, resolve any conflicts that arise, and still maintain a supportive environment for the expectant mother.
Teamwork requires communication, but it is not the only area of midwifery that does. A midwife must be able to effectively communicate with patients, helping them to understand their options, risks and needs. Explaining complex medical situations requires an in-depth knowledge of the situation, as well as the ability to effectively convey it. A midwife may need to refer a patient to a doctor and explain to the patient why it's necessary, or to offer information and advice on birthing methods, support networks, or simply pregnancy in general.
Observation is one of the strongest tools of a medical professional. Patients don't always know which symptoms are relevant, or sometimes write symptoms off as either being part of pregnancy or as something else entirely. Through observation, effective record-keeping, and the ability to discern patterns or trends in tests or symptoms, midwives can spot complications and risks more readily.
Pregnancy is an emotional time, often both for the patient and her family. A midwife's composure allows him or her to remain calm and alert, and to be a confident and reassuring presence in stressful situations. And, in emergencies, that composure allows the midwife to act quickly and efficiently.
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