Local News

Midwife Delivery: A Long History in N.C.

Posted July 7, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— When women have their babies, they sometimes want midwives nearby to help in the delivery room. A midwife in Davie County brought more than 750 newborns into the world before anyone realized she didn't have a license. Now she's going to trial.

Using midwives to deliver babies is a tradition in our country, and North Carolina is one of the few states which requires midwives to be certified nurses. Some say the standard is too high, and creates a black market where midwives work without licenses, but many others say a nursing background is crucial to the safety of both mother and child.

Mike and Laura Fogle say their experience delivering baby Maggie two weeks ago with a midwife was a good one. They chose a midwife because they wanted a natural birth, but they also wanted the safety net of medical intervention if it was needed.

"It gives ,me a sense of security that they have medical background and education," said Mike Fogle.

"Basically all of the medical technology was available if we needed it," said Laura Fogle.

Cheryl Carroll is the nurse midwife who helped deliver Maggie and more than 300 other infants since 1992. She says nurse midwives combine medical knowledge and compassion.

"When they come into the hospital in labor, we come into the hospital," said Carroll. "We don't just walk in, deliver the baby say 'hi' and 'see ya', we really get to know these parents."

Unlike lay midwives, nurse midwives know that a doctor is standing by to help them if something goes wrong.

"Don't jeopardize the mothers' health or the baby's health," said Obstetrician Dr. Barrett Gunter. "Try to achieve a satisfying labor and delivery in an environment that's safe,"

Doctors say 90 percent of the time births are routine, but the other 10 percent of the time things go wrong, and that's when the medical training is indispensable. Currently there are 123 licensed nurse midwives in N.C.

There are four kinds of midwives, lay midwives, whose training comes solely from working with other midwives, direct-entry midwives, who are trained at a college or midwifery school, certified professional midwives must meet a national organization's standards and pass a certification exam, and certified nurse-midwives, who are registered nurses, also trained as midwives.

They work with doctors who serve as backup in case of complications.