PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Midwives have been delivering babies for centuries, but the profession of midwifery is still shrouded in mystery for many people.

KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen talks with Suzanne Shores, Director of Midwifery at UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital, to learn what it’s all about. Here’s their edited conversation.

Kristine Sorensen: Suzanne, explain what midwifery is.

Suzanne Shores: The practice of midwifery is really about women. Nurse midwives are nurses who are trained in additional education to take care of women throughout their lifespan. Traditionallym women think about coming to midwives when they’re pregnant, and it’s a philosophy of care that takes a more holistic approach to pregnancy and childbearing.

Kristine Sorensen: How is a seeing a midwife different from seeing an obstetrician/gynecologist during pregnancy?

Suzanne Shores: A lot of the specific things at a care visit are the same. Midwives are going to offer all of the same standards of care. They’re going to offer all the same testing, and the visit portions of listening to the baby’s heartbeat are all the same as well.

One of the bigger differences is, with a midwife, it’s a little more personable care. Midwives have the advantage of spending a little more time with their patients and with the women we care for, versus our physician colleagues.

The midwives have built a little more of a personal rapport because of that time that we get to spend together. One of the hallmarks of midwifery is shared decision making. The women and the family that we’re caring for are more a part of the choices that they’re making for their pregnancy and childbirth.

Kristine Sorensen: Since we’re at a hospital, at UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital, you have the doctors available as well, right?

Suzanne Shores: Yes, it’s one of the big advantages that we have here at Magee in such a high tech center. We have the ability to care for low-risk women, but we have the back-up of our physicians for when we need them.

In cases of emergency, or if complications arise, either in a woman’s prenatal care or at the time of her labor and birth, the doctors are immediately available to us with all of the technologies and advantages that Magee has with our advanced care from our physicians to our NICU specialists.