What Does a Midwife Do? Interview with Risa Klein.

Risa Klein is a certified nurse midwife with an office on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She was the “birth consultant” for the feature films Baby Mama and Maze

Are there any misconceptions about midwives you want to set straight? Midwives are very smart. We go through very rigorous academic accredited midwifery schools. Sometimes people think midwives only do home-births for impoverished, poverty-stricken people around the world, and that’s really not true. Midwives serve women of all socio-economic backgrounds and what we do is we pride ourselves on understanding what is normal for each woman we see. We also do GYN-care, conscious conception planning, and contraceptive planning. Basically, midwives have a holistic view of the process of birth and childbirth is just an organic, natural process. Midwives see it as normal, it’s not a disease; it’s nothing to be afraid of.

Can any woman see a midwife during her pregnancy? We take care of healthy, low-risk women. We don’t take care of women with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, liver disease, or other metabolic diseases. We could co-manage women, but for the most part we take care of healthy women, but we are educated and experienced to screen for other risk factors. So many women think, “Oh, I’ll be safer with an OB,” but if there’s a true medical issue, then we will refer, consult, and collaborate with an obstetrician, with a perinatologist, or with a genetic counselor. So what I could share is that a lot of people don’t understand the magnitude of experience midwives have in terms of understanding the medical piece of it, and knowing when to and how to recognize if there is a challenge, and when to consult and co-manage.

Any tips for woman to help make pregnancy an easier, more enjoyable process? Many women are working very hard, and they’re going up and down stairs and going to the gym, but unbeknownst to them, they’re throwing themselves into pre-term labor and their waters are breaking early because they’re doing too much. So I really encourage women to go slow. My phrase is, “be boring.” Modify work, go in late, work from home, do what you can so you can enjoy the last few weeks and not risk a premature labor. In our country we have very high infant morbidity and mortality, and it’s truly something that I believe could be avoided with positive communication about eating well, having protein in the diet, making sure a woman’s blood volume stays high, and getting enough rest. If a woman is dizzy by exercising and running around and forgetting to eat or drink, those all set up for preterm labor contractions.

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