Consumer Information

What You Should Know About Midwives and Their Services

Who is a midwife?

A midwife is a health care provider who cares for women during pregnancy, childbirth, following the birth of a child, and for other health needs throughout their adult life. Only New York licensed midwives may practice in New York State. Midwives have collaborative relationships with physicians. What is the relationship between midwives and physicians?

Licensed midwives are independent practitioners with expertise in the care of healthy women. Midwives collaborate with physicians and will consult with them immediately if complications arise at any time during the childbearing process. This insures safe care and continuous support for the woman and her family.

What services do licensed midwives offer?

Midwives commonly offer the following services:

  1. maternity care
  2. first exams for young women and pre-conception counseling
  3. normal gynecological care
  4. family planning
  5. annual health screenings and exams

In providing these services, what approach do licensed midwives take?

Licensed midwives practice with the expectation that a woman's childbearing experience will be normal. Midwives focus on enhancing health and providing support through a normal, physiological process. They continually monitor for signs of complications.

There are various choices women can make about the birthing experience. Midwives present a full range of choices and let the woman decide what, within the safe available options, she wants for her care.

What credentials does a New York licensed midwife have?

New York licensed midwives have graduated from a State-approved program that includes classroom training and clinical experience. Studies include courses in maternity and pediatric care, pharmacology, well-woman care, neonatal care, and family planning and gynecological care.

This training may build on a nursing background or may follow a preparatory program designed for those who do not have a background in nursing. Can licensed midwives prescribe medications?

Yes - licensed midwives can prescribe medications, as related to the practice of midwifery. They can also order tests to help diagnose problems.

Where do licensed midwives work?

Midwives practice midwifery and assist births where birth occurs and health care is rendered - hospitals, birth centers, clients' homes, and professional offices. No matter where care is rendered, licensed midwives seek to offer safe and personalized care.

Do midwives care for women with disabilities?

Yes. Ask about any accommodations you may need.

Will my health insurance cover midwifery services?

Check with your insurance provider for details. Maternity benefits may cover midwifery services, but individual insurance companies may specify which midwives they include in their reimbursement system. You should also check with your insurance provider about coverage of gynecological services provided by midwives.

How do I locate a licensed midwife?

Check with people you know who have had a successful experience with a licensed midwife. You can also check under "Midwives" in the yellow pages of your telephone book.

Midwifery organizations may be able to help identify their members who could assist you.

The State Board of Midwifery cannot refer you to a practitioner.

Verifying a New York license:

New York midwives must display a current New York registration certificate; this certificate lists the professional's name, address, and dates of the registration period. Midwives must reregister every three years to practice in New York. Some professionals also display their original New York license, diploma, licenses from other states, and membership certificates. You may verify licenses on this site.

Last Updated: June 3, 2009