Ask the Midwife
- What is the Birth and Women's Health Center?
- What services do you provide?
- What is a certified murse-midwife? Don't I need a doctor?
- Is the Birth Center only about natural childbirth? Can I have an epidural?
- What happens in an emergency?
- Does waterbirth help reduce pain?
- Can I come to BWHC for my regular gynecological care, even if I'm not pregnant?
- How can I find out more?
- Do you support VBAC (Vaginal Birth after
- What's the best way to determine what kind of birth control is right for me?
- I know I'm supposed to get a Pap every year with my annual exam, but I don't understand why, or even exactly what it is.
Question #1: What is the Birth and Women's Health Center?
Answer: The Birth and Women?s Health Center (BWHC) is a midwifery practice and freestanding birth center. Our mission is to provide innovative women?s wellness programs that foster empowerment and respectfully guide women and their families through the transitions of life.
Question #2: What services do you provide?
Answer: BWHC provides complete gynecological care for women of all ages; prenatal care and education; labor, birth and postpartum support; and a host of educational programs for pregnant women and their families.
Question #3: What is a certified murse-midwife? Don't I need a doctor?
Answer: A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a licensed health care professional who specializes in the care of pregnant women. Nurse-midwives have hospital privleges, can prescribe medications, and handle everything related to pregnancy, from prenatal care through birth and postpartum.
Midwifery care is proven to be safe. A 1998 Centers for Disease Control study that compared midwifery care to obstetrical care found that infant mortality, neonatal mortality and the rate of low birth weight babies were all lower for midwifery care than for obstetrical care. Midwifery care also results in fewer c-sections and episiotomies. Researchers attributed the differences in outcomes to more one-on-one time spent with patients and fewer interventions in prenatal care, labor and birth.
Question #4: Is the Birth Center only about natural childbirth? Can I have an epidural?
Answer: BWHC provides an ideal atmosphere for families choosing natural childbirth at our birth center with few medical interventions, or for families choosing to birth at neighboring TMC with or without an epidural. Our certified nurse-midwives help you make a birth plan that fits your needs.
Question #5: What happens in an emergency?
Answer: The Birth Center and our certified nurse-midwives are well equipped to handle many complications. Should anything happen during labor that requires hospitalization, BWHC patients are transported to TMC - only 2 minutes away from the Birth Center. In addition, BWHC midwives receive clinical support from a physician.
Question #6: Does waterbirth help reduce pain?
Answer: Many women find that water is extremely soothing and helpful during labor. Often our patients choose to birth in the water, finding that hydrotherapy also helps during the pushing phase, and eases baby's entrance into the world.
Question #7: Can I come to BWHC for my regular gynecological care, even if I'm not pregnant?
Answer: Absolutely! BWHC is a great place for general women's health care, including regular annual exams, birth control, infection checks and more. Just call (520) 795-9912 for an appointment.
Question #8: How can I find out more?
Answer: You can come to a Childbirth Choices class, which provides an overview of our philosophy and a tour of the center. Call us at (520) 795-9912 for more information about the next available class.
Question #9: Do you support VBAC
(Vaginal Birth after Cesarian-Section)?
Answer: The Midwives do support VBAC.
Several factors are considered before agreeing that a VBAC is a safe
choice for an expectant mom. There is a slightly increased risk for
problems during labor, such as a rupture of the incision area, so we
attend those births at TMC only. A VBAC is not supported for an out
of hospital birth. If a mother has had only ONE previous C-section
and that surgery was at least 1 year ago, she is a probably good
candidate for TOLAC (Trail of labor after C-section). The midwife
will also review the type of incision made when your C-Section was
performed and why you had a C-Section in the first place.
Question #10: What's the best way to determine what kind of birth control is right for me?
Answer: The pill? An IUD? Condoms? Natural Family Planning? It's a complicated question, with no simple answer. Choosing birth control requires careful consideration of several lifestyle factors. Have you already had all the children you plan on having, or are you just trying to space them out? Are you in a monogamous relationship? Do you have any allergies?
The best way to really asses your options is with a professional such as your midwife. She will take the time to really listen to what's going on in your life without judgment and help you make the decision that fits you the best.
Question #11: I know I'm supposed to get a Pap every year with my annual exam, but I don't understand why, or even exactly what it is.
Answer: Until the 1940s cervical and uterine cancer killed more women than any other gynecological cancer, including breast cancer. But thanks to an accidental discovery by Greek physician George Papanicolaou, millions of women worldwide are spared from cervical and uterine cancer through early detection made available by the Pap smear.
The purpose of a Pap smear, in lay terms, is to get some cells from both the outside of your cervix and the inside of your cervix. The junction that joins the two is called the transformation zone; it is also crucial to get cells from the transformation zone because this is the area where cell abnormalities are most often found. The test is typically done in conjunction with your annual exam. For most women, the Pap smear is quick and painless.
Once the samples are obtained, your doctor will literally smear them onto a small glass slide and spritz a fixative (a sort of hair spray) onto the slides to hold the samples in place. Those cells are then sent off to a cytologist (someone who specializes in reading cells), who will screen them for abnormalities such as abnormal cell growth, infection, and inflammation. A Pap smear can also detect cell changes on the vaginal wall, which are signs of vaginal cancer. If an abnormality is found, you will be asked to re-test in 2-4 weeks to confirm the results. If the second test shows abnormal cells, then the idea is to treat you before anything more serious, such as cervical cancer, has a chance to develop.
Unfortunately, women still develop cervical cancer (currently, 160,000 women worldwide die each year from cervical cancer), though not nearly as many as in the pre-Pap days. However, early detection is the key!
The following steps will help your provider obtain a good sample--and the shortest route to an accurate reading:
- Do not douche or use tampons or vaginal medication for at least twenty-four hours prior to your Pap test. Any of these can interfere with the sample.
- Do not schedule your annual exam and Pap during your period. This can also interfere with the sample.
- If your first test shows abnormalities or is inconclusive, repeat Pap smears must be at least two to four weeks apart.
- You should receive some notification about 1-2 weeks after your exam confirming the results of your test. If you don't, call your practitioner and ask. Early detection is the key to successful treatment of cervical and vaginal cancers!
If you haven't had a Pap or annual exam in the last 12 months, please call Birth and Women's Health Center today to schedule a visit with a midwife!