ObstetricsMidwifery

Midwives bring a holistic approach to prenatal care.

By electing to see one of our certified nurse-midwives, you'll enjoy their wealth of knowledge, high level of compassionate care, and individualized, holistic approach to women's health that is truly unique to our practice. In 1975, we became the first hospital-based practice in New Hampshire to offer midwifery care. Since then our midwives have provided the Seacoast and Southern Maine communities with their medical expertise and commitment to the lifelong care of women.

midwife assisting woman in labor

What is a midwife and how do they differ from my OB?

Great question! The word midwife literally means "with woman." Certified nurse-midwives (like the ones at Garrison) are fully trained and licensed nurses who have additional, extensive training and national certification in midwifery. Midwives believe in the natural process of pregnancy, labor, and birth.

Like an obstetrician, a midwife can deliver your baby, but she is also focused on the whole birth experience. In addition to comprehensive medical care and collaboration with our on-call obstetrician, your midwife provides individualized guidance, shared decision-making, and integrative therapies throughout your labor.

At Garrison, our midwives:

healthcare professional holding newborn

Believe in a natural birthing process

A midwife’s approach focuses on nurturing and empowering women to be in control of their pregnancy journey. Midwives believe in the natural process of pregnancy, labor, and birth. While not averse to pain medication, they typically recommend other pain management techniques such as giving birth in a bath or encouraging an expectant mother to breathe deeply as a relaxation measure. Provided there are no complications, most women who choose to labor with midwives are more likely to have a natural vaginal birth.

holding hands

Act as your built-in support system

Midwives are wonderful listeners and keep a watchful eye on mothers-to-be during the labor and delivery process, as well as during prenatal and postpartum care. Once your bundle of joy is born, a midwife can help with breastfeeding, provide emotional support to combat any new-mom jitters, and be there to lean on if needed.

doctor meeting with pregnant woman

Work closely and collaboratively with you and other providers

Garrison has a collaborative model for midwifery care, and just like our prenatal services, it's all about choices and flexibility. You can choose whether to see a midwife or a doctor for your visits, but most of our clients see both. Above all else, you have the full support of our team behind you to deliver your baby in the safest and healthiest way possible!

Get to know our midwives!

Interested in learning more about our midwifery care? Consider attending one of our Meet the Midwives events here at Garrison.

These semi-annual casual gatherings will give you the opportunity to hear more about what midwives do and ask any questions you may have about their work. As the first practice in New Hampshire to offer midwifery services, Garrison Women’s Health has the experience and history to showcase the unique approach midwives offer.

Meet the Midwives graphic

Frequently Asked Questions

There are different levels of certification and training for midwives. Certified nurse-midwives (like the ones at Garrison) are fully trained and licensed advanced practice nurses who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology, and have additional, extensive training and national certification in midwifery. They have a master’s degree in nursing, have graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program, and have passed a national certification examination to receive the accreditation. Midwives are experts in facilitating birth in the most effective way through evidence-based practice, for the safest outcomes and greatest satisfaction for you and your family.

Our midwives are part of a labor and delivery team at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, New Hampshire, for both high- and low-risk births.

Garrison has a collaborative model for midwifery care. Our patients can see a midwife or a physician for their visits, but most choose to see both. The broad range of skills, experience, and credentials held by the physicians, advanced practice practitioners, and midwives at Garrison can cover most any situation. Your midwife has the full support of our larger team behind her to deliver your baby in the safest and healthiest way possible.

Most major insurance companies will cover midwifery services, and Garrison works with most insurance carriers/plans. Want to know if you’re in network? Contact your insurance carrier to inquire about your in-network providers.

Yes! In addition to our team here, we're very connected with a network of doulas in the area. A doula is a non-medical support person who is an incredible resource for expectant mothers, providing physical and emotional support before, during, and after your pregnancy.

Studies have indicated that women who are cared for by certified nurse-midwives generally experience:

 

  • Lower rates of C-section
  • Lower rates of induced labor and augmentation
  • Significant reduction in the incidence of third and fourth degree perineal tears
  • Lower use of regional anesthesia
  • Higher rates of breastfeeding

Midwives support women in making pain management decisions during labor that align with their needs and birth ideals. This includes natural techniques such as position changes and hydrotherapy during labor, as well as nitrous oxide and epidurals.

Deciding when is the right time to come to the hospital can be challenging. It’s best to make this decision in consultation with the provider who’s on-call. We strongly request that patients call us (603-742-0101) BEFORE coming to the hospital to speak with the provider or triage nurse. It’s extremely helpful when we can anticipate who is coming to the Birth Center — and when — so that we are prepared for you when you arrive.

The following are good thresholds or points in labor during which to call and speak with your midwife and make a joint decision whether or not coming to the hospital is appropriate:

 

  1. You’re experiencing bright red bleeding.
  2. You think your water broke.
  3. Your baby isn’t moving as much as normal.
  4. You’re having strong, regular contractions every 3-5 minutes and they have been following that pattern for at least 1-2 hours. (Labor contractions are generally strong enough that talking or moving through them is very difficult.)

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, one of the benefits of midwifery care is the decreased chance of needing a C-section. Provided there are no complications, most women who choose to labor with midwives are more likely to have a natural vaginal birth.

Post birth, your relationship with your midwife is not over. She can help with breastfeeding and provide support for your postpartum health, both physical and emotional, and help you process your new maternal experiences.

Words from Real Moms

I can’t begin to tell you how much we have appreciated the care provided to us over the last seven years by Garrison Women’s Health. We have been so lucky to have had our healthy children, all with your midwives.

Our experiences were amazing and will forever be in our hearts. Your love and support before, during and after the birth of our children has been like no other.

- Miranda M.