Busting the myths of midwives

"There is a stereotype that we’re all hippies ... but there is so much more to what a midwife can offer women."

By: Erin Heinert .

Erin VandeLune standing in front of a blue wall
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Delivering babies, performing exams, administering screenings and providing gynecological care from adolescence to menopause. These are all things a certified nurse midwife can do for women.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what a midwife is and what we can offer,” says Erin Vande Lune, C.N.M., a certified nurse midwife at Sanford Health. “There is a stereotype that we’re all hippies who can only oversee low-intervention childbirth. Yes, we do pride ourselves on being advocates for natural childbirth in women who are good candidates for it, but there is so much more to what a midwife can offer women. And not just for women of child-bearing age but for all ages.”

A midwife for all ages

Beyond pregnancy and childbirth, a midwife can also provide a personal, relationship-based approach to other care needs. This includes family planning, postpartum care, menopause care and gynecological care.

“We offer care for all women,” says Vande Lune. “ We can start seeing girls right before their first menstrual cycle. Their bodies are changing and this gives them the opportunity to ask questions and have it explained in a way they’ll understand. We can also care for all your gynecologic needs all the way until menopause.”

Every option available

A certified nurse midwife has a master’s degree in nursing and has been certified with special training in midwifery. When a woman chooses to receive care from a midwife, she still has access to the highest standard of care and the full-spectrum of care options.

“You still have all the tools in the toolbox,” says Vande Lune. “If you want to have an epidural, you can. If you want to schedule a C-section, we (the delivery team) can do that. We are all about presenting you with and educating you on all the options. Then we let you decide what is right for you and what you feel comfortable with.”

Because Vande Lune practices at Sanford Health, her patients receive the benefit of having a comprehensive team of specialists and physicians close at hand.

“We are truly a cohesive team,” explains Vande Lune. “Even if you have a higher risk pregnancy or are a more complicated patient, whether that’s due to age or previous health conditions, you can still have a midwife and experience that high-touch experience.”

Expanding service reach

And now more women in southeast South Dakota, northwest Iowa and northeast Nebraska can experience that close relationship that a midwife brings. Vande Lune and colleague Brandi Craig, C.N.M., will see patients at the Sanford Dakota Dunes Clinic.

“Being a part of a women’s health care journey, and especially her pregnancy and birth, is such an intimate experience,” says Vande Lune. “I essentially have a front-row seat to this incredible moment in someone’s life. That’s not something I take lightly.”

Vande Lune explains that midwives generally have a longer appointment time. This allows for more of an in-depth conversation between patient and provider.

“With a midwife, you get that face-to-face time that is so crucial in developing a relationship and building trust,” explains Vande Lune. “Part of my job means that my schedule maybe isn’t always as full as other providers’ schedules can be, so that really allows me to be present in those visits. We get to cover any topic that you want and have that longer time together. That allows me the opportunity to listen to the concerns and questions of my patients. Then I can provide them with the answers that will empower them in their health care choices.”