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A “new” choice for women’s healthcare

Stephanie Purinton, C.N.M, I.B.C.L.C.

When a woman seeks a healthcare provider – whether it is for her first annual exam, pregnancy, or the onset of menopause – she may want to consider the full range of provider choices. Women should know they now have several options: physicians, family nurse practitioners, women’s healthcare practitioners and certified nurse-midwives.

It may surprise some to learn many women in the 21st century are returning to certified nurse-midwives for the full-spectrum of female healthcare.

Why choose a midwife?

While the care of an obstetrician or gynecologist is necessary for high-risk women, certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are known for their advanced training, expertise in women’s health, individualized approach to care, emphasis on caring for the whole woman, and preventive healthcare. 

Midwifery has been practiced since ancient times. In previous eras, training most often was gained only by experience. Sometimes midwifery was a practice passed from mothers to daughters. In contrast, today’s midwives are well-educated, may be certified and often have many years of experience as registered nurses. The modern midwife certification can be an advanced specialty earned by nurses while obtaining their master’s degrees.

Because care and nurturing are part of the nursing aspect of midwives’ training, their ability to connect one-to-one is an integral part of their practices. CNMs emphasize partnering with and listening to a woman to help her understand her choices for care. Midwives view each woman as a person with unique healthcare needs who requires individual attention.

“The women I serve really appreciate the extra time we take in our appointments to talk through the issues that are of concern for them,” said Stephanie Purinton, a certified nurse-midwife in Cottonwood. “Those discussions really are important in helping me understand what a patient’s needs are. My ability to use our discussion information to identify the best course of care for her is critical to me as a provider. Since no two women are the same, their care shouldn’t be either. ”

Certified nurse-midwives are trained to provide female healthcare from adolescence through menopause. Like family nurse practitioners, CNMs can write prescriptions and order tests for their patients. In addition, just like most people think of midwifery, CNMs can give complete care in terms of pregnancy and birthing.

For many pregnant women, even the most competent “routine care” is not what they desire for their birth experience. For women who want greater support, midwives are specialists in whole-woman care. With lengthier prenatal visits, midwives often get important insights into a woman’s health status and needs. This in-depth approach, combined with:

1) An emphasis on prudent use of medical interventions
2) A tendency to spend more time by a woman’s side in labor, supporting her and watching for any health concerns,
3) Advanced training to respond to most complications in labor and delivery
4) Closely working with obstetricians to ensure care in case of major complications,

leads to high-quality outcomes for mothers and babies. These may be the reasons healthy women seeking more personalized care may wish to consider visiting a certified nurse-midwife for their prenatal care, birthing experience and postpartum checkups.

Founder and former editor of “,” Nancy Sullivan, CNM, FACNM, a midwife for more than 20 years, has stated, “Today, in much of the world, professional midwives are responsible for attending women in labor and birth. In fact, in the countries with the best pregnancy outcomes, midwives are the primary providers of care to pregnant women.”

For women and with women – a certified nurse-midwife may be an option to research for your female health issues.

Information for this article was provided by Stephanie Purinton, CNM, IBCLC. Stephanie provides whole-women healthcare in the office of John French, M.D., and attends births at Verde Valley Medical Center. Stephanie has more than 13 years experience as a registered nurse and is a graduate of Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing. Her website is: