BHealthy Blog

What Can I Expect When Using a Midwife?

Baptist Health-Fort Smith recently welcomed two Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) to its medical staff. Certified nurse midwives have post-graduate training in obstetrics and gynecology and have passed the national board-certification exam administered by the American College of Nurse Midwives.

Nurse midwives care for women during childbirth, including monitoring both mother and baby during labor, assisting with pain management and delivering the baby. While some may hear the term “midwife” and envision a homebirth, SaraBeth Askins, CNM, and Madison Stave, CNM, offer numerous obstetrical and gynecological services for women at any stage of life in the hospital and at Baptist Health Women’s Clinic-Fort Smith

Services Provided by Certified Nurse Midwives

  • Wellness Visits/Pap Smears
  • Gynecology
  • Breast Exams
  • Family Planning and Birth Control
  • Pre-Pregnancy Counseling
  • Pregnancy: Prenatal Through Postpartum
  • Lactation Support
  • Peri-Menopausal and Menopausal Management

Askins earned a Master of Science in Nursing from Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies in Washington, D.C., and has worked as a nurse with mothers and babies since 2014. 

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to labor and delivery,” said Askins. “Each patient brings a unique story and set of experiences to every encounter during care. I will always strive to honor her history and acknowledge her experience.” 

Stave began her career in health care in 2020 and went on to earn a Master of Science in Nursing at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. 

The nurse midwives at Baptist Health pride themselves on their ability to partner with each patient to create individualized care plans based on their unique desires and needs. They provide a supportive and empowering environment to help women, no matter their stage of life, make informed decisions about their health. 

“As a midwife, I view pregnancy and childbirth as a normal, natural process that requires little intervention much of the time,” said Stave. “Though I monitor for complications and can intervene when needed, I seek to minimize unnecessary interventions and procedures and allow a woman’s body to do what it was created to do.”

Stave and Askins answer some of the most frequently asked questions about midwifery. 

What is a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)?

A CNM is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) who is trained as both a nurse and a midwife. Nurse midwives provide a wide-array of healthcare services both independently and in collaboration with physicians, including obstetrical care, gynecological care and primary care. They can prescribe medications, make diagnoses, perform procedures, such as an IUD insertion or endometrial biopsy, and can work in a variety of settings, including outpatient clinics, hospitals, birth centers and telehealth. Midwives approach pregnancy, birth and postpartum care holistically and physiologically, and typically seek to minimize unnecessary medical interventions, though they can intervene when complications arise.

What type of education does a CNM have?

A nurse midwife has either a Master or Doctorate in Nursing (MSN or DNP) with a specialty in Nurse-Midwifery and are licensed as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who can practice in all 50 states.

Can I have an epidural in labor with a CNM?

Absolutely. Patients have all the same pain management options with nurse midwives as they do physicians, including epidurals, IV pain medications and nitrous oxide.

What if I need a cesarean-section?

Though nurse midwives are not trained in surgery, they work in close collaboration with physicians and can quickly consult if a C-section is necessary for the health of the mother or baby. When trained, they can also scrub into C-sections and assist the primary surgeon, if needed.

My pregnancy is considered “high risk.” Can I still see a CNM?

Depending on your health history and unique needs, a nurse midwife can still see you either independently or in collaboration with an OB/GYN. For example, if you have gestational diabetes that is controlled with diet and exercise, a nurse midwife can care for you independently. If you need insulin to help with your blood sugar, however, the nurse midwife may consult a physician or specialist to help adjust the medication dosage, depending on each provider’s experience and training.

Can you do pap smears?

Yes, nurse midwives are trained in the provision of gynecologic and primary care, as well as care during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

For more information about pregnancy and childbirth at Baptist Health, visit