For many industries across the country, and the entire world for that matter, the pandemic has highlighted several challenges, shortfalls, and issues. From the importance of global supply chains to the challenge to provide enough hospital care with trained staff, the pandemic has put so many industries under pressure. What it has also done is give people an opportunity to learn from, get insight on and gather information. For those who have had a close eye on the field of midwifery, the pandemic has highlighted the very obvious need for more midwives in general – all across the country.
Where the Country Is – and Where It’s Going
As of right now, approximately 40,000 midwives are working across the country. While that may sound like a big number, it’s not enough. Experts have this industry pegged to grow by 12.5% during the 10 years of 2016-2026. The pandemic certainly hasn’t shrunk that number; instead, it has made it more obvious just how much growth is still predicted and needed.
Are There Specific States Where They are More in Demand?
While it’s true that midwives are in demand across the country, there are three states in particular where the growth is happening much faster and on a broader scale. For those looking to move for job potential, these three states may be where you want to focus your job search. Currently, the states of California, Tennessee and Texas have the most midwives and are showing the most potential in terms of growth.
Why Are Midwives So Important to the Healthcare System?
So, what’s behind this push for more midwives across the country? Why are they so essential to the healthcare system as a whole? As hospitals across the country buckled under the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became very obvious that for women experiencing a ‘normal’ pregnancy, there was no need to use a hospital for delivery.
This desire to avoid the hospital (if possible) created an uptick in people searching for midwives and ended up with hundreds, if not thousands of pregnant women being placed on a waitlist for the first available midwife. And while daily case numbers are once again dropping, it seems the cat is already out of the bag, so to speak, and women have learned the many benefits a midwife can offer during pregnancy and labor.
Negative Experiences Are Fueling the Demand
Then there is the classic negative experience that can push people to try something different. For women who have had a traumatic or negative birthing experience, or know someone who did, there is that desire to make this pregnancy and delivery different. The idea that it will be different this time, and better, can be a huge driving factor in opting for a nurse-midwife. The hospital and clinical setting isn’t a positive experience for all, and the idea that they can potentially avoid all that stress by working with a midwife can be very attractive.
Midwives take a more personal approach, putting a lot of emphasis on overall well-being. The mother and baby both feel cared for and this is a huge benefit. That’s not to say there aren’t great OB’s out there; it can just be a perception that a midwife gives a more personalized experience. They work to create a calm, soothing and healthy environment.
What Does a Midwife Do?
Simply put, a midwife is a trained specialist who will work with the woman during pregnancy, labor and the birth of the child. They use very few interventions – if any – and as long as everything remains stable and normal in the pregnancy, there is no need for additional support. During the pregnancy, the midwife will perform check-ups on the baby’s growth, general health and position. They can also answer questions, help the mother to book appointments related to the pregnancy and give them invaluable advice. They will also help them to make a birth plan and keep a close eye on their psychological and physical well-being.
During labor they will be there with the mother, offering support and guidance. Midwives often have an OB (or a couple) that they call on should anything happen during labor that requires them to step in. Because midwives approach birth from a natural standpoint, it gives women the option to deliver in a hospital, a birthing center or at home.
Other services a midwife can offer are birth control counseling, gynecological exams and they may be able to write prescriptions.
Nurse Midwife – Taking a Look at the Specifics
Nurse-midwives are registered nurses who have taken an advanced program so they get a graduate degree in midwifery. Midwives work with those who are experiencing a ‘normal’ pregnancy, working with the woman from the time of conception until after the birth. Should the woman require a cesarean section, they will need a gynecologist or obstetrician – as midwives cannot perform surgery.
The average wage for a nurse-midwife is $115,540, which is much higher than a registered nurse. This can be attributed to the fact that it is a specialized career that requires graduate nursing education. It is typically ranked quite high in terms of the best healthcare jobs, offering an excellent salary, future growth potential, job market potential, and work-life balance. The stress level can be more manageable than other healthcare positions too.
For those interested in following this path and getting a graduate education, you could consider options like the online AGNP programs at Baylor University.
Watch for the Trend to Continue and Potentially Grow
So, what happens now? Will the demand for midwives continue? Will it grow even bigger? While it’s impossible to predict the future, all signs currently point in a very positive direction for those eyeing a career as a midwife. It seems as though more and more people are realizing the many benefits a nurse-midwife can offer, and it’s helping to relieve some of the stress from so many over-stretched hospitals. The chances are very high that this trend will continue.