By Dr. Brian McDonoughSponsored By Independence Blue Cross

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health is a major source of information for nurse midwives here in United States.

Midwives are used much more commonly in countries like Australia and the United Kingdom than they are in the United States.

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In those countries, midwives are present at more than two thirds of births. However, here in the United States less than 10 percent of births have nurse midwives in attendance.

Midwives are nurses who have received additional training and certification beyond graduation, and they provide healthcare services for women which can be provided throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and even beyond.

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Hospitals are beginning to take advantage of this service and it is now estimated that almost half of hospitals have midwives on the payroll.

At this point they are used largely for prenatal and pregnancy counseling and, according to statistics, are present at less than 15 percent of deliveries.

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But, with impending physician shortages and ever-growing concern about medical costs, don’t be surprised if midwives begin playing a greater role in the future.