The role of midwives and their training level has greatly expanded from the time they traveled to people's houses to deliver babies. The changes are being recognized during National Midwifery Week.
Certified nurse midwives actually have two years of training beyond a Bachelor of Science degree.
"I think you could classify current day midwifery as high touch and high tech also," said Linda McLendon, a certified nurse, midwife and coordinator for Rush Midwifery Associates in Meridian. It is the largest such practice in Mississippi and possibly Alabama and Louisiana.
"We have all the options available to us as far as monitoring and assessments that our patients need, but we still provide that one on one care to the patient also," McLendon said.
And midwives work alongside physicians, delivering babies in the hospital. A key value to this service is, with a decline in the number of OB-GYN providers nationwide in recent years, nurse midwives are meeting needs in some under-served areas, and it's not all just about delivering babies.
"We provide women's health care throughout the life cycle. I may see a patient who is 13 years old or I may see a lady who is 80," said McLendon, adding that some misconceptions remain.
"Oh you're a midwife and that means everybody has to deliver naturally without any medications," said McLendon, referring to remarks she gets from some people. "Our patients have all the same options for pain medication and pain management as any other woman having her baby anywhere else."
Rush Midwifery Associates has been offering this option since 1991.