Midwives are registered nurses who have advanced training and advanced degrees in specifically women's health and especially for perinatal and labor and delivery care. Some times they are working in the hospital as labor and delivery nurses; some times they work in free standing clinics and birthing centers. They are supervised by a physician in case one is needed but they are licensed to deliver babies. In most other countries midwives are the primary source for prenatal care and delivery.
The World Health Organization recommends that only ten percent of the world's population need be delivered via Cesarean Section. Fifteen percent of high risk cases. Women suffer where there is no consistent prenatal care, nor supervised deliveries but also risk their lives and those of their babies when the C-section rate is excessive. In the United States the "section" rate is closing in on a third of all deliveries.
The Center for Disease Control sites statistics whereby mortality rates are twice as high now as when these women were delivered, a generation ago. A recent finding suggests that pulmonary embolism is a leading factor and that likelihood vastly increases with C-section. Continued technological medical interventions are sited as factors leading to significantly increaded risks in an Amnesty International report about maternal care in the USA.
There are many reasons offered about why midwifery is not more widely available in the United States. However, I don't think that is the real point of this blog. The point is that you should know the facts about midwives and where and with whom they practice. There are physician providers who have midwives on their staff as part of the practice who deliver essentially all of their vaginal deliveries. There is a free standing birthing center in Atlanta which is staffed entirely by nurse-midwives with a physician on call. There are options to be had and choices to be made. It is a woman's responsibility to research the facts about midwifery versus physician deliveries, decide which she favors and seek out a practice and facility where her needs are met.