EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The use of midwives is a viable option for expecting women, but they are not widely utilized during labor and delivery in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Midwives attend only 8 percent of the births in the U.S. That’s why an area midwife hopes to raise awareness about the health profession.

Pregnancy and labor are very personal experiences. Pregnant women have a choice about the kind of care they prefer, but few patients know the varying options that are available to them. That’s why knowing the difference between midwives and OB-GYNs might be helpful if you are expecting.

“It was like the luck of the draw,” said Traci Shevchik.

Traci Shevchik, of Archbald, gave birth two months ago to her third child with the help of a certified nurse midwife and nurse practitioner, Karen Carbaugh.

“It’s the love I have for taking care of women not only during their pregnancy but women in general,” said Carbaugh.

Karen’s career with Geisinger spans 30 years. She can work alongside an obstetrician or independently. For Karen, being a certified nurse midwife is a passion.

“It’s developing those relationships, it’s being able to care for them, a woman prior to pregnancy, at time of delivery, postpartum, and beyond,” Carbaugh told Eyewitness News.

When Traci was expecting her first child, she was assigned an obstetrician, and Karen assisted with the birth. By the time Traci was ready to give birth to her third child, Karen was on hand to deliver the baby without an obstetrician present. Traci says having Karen by her side, as her midwife, offering clinical support and care was comforting.

“She can do the same thing an OB can do so why not utilize that?” Shevchik said.

Not only do midwives service pregnant women, but they also treat a wide range of women’s health issues at women’s health clinics, such as this one at Geisinger.

“We follow them with postpartum care, they can continue care with women for annuals, paps, small office procedures,” Carbaugh explained.

For this pair, it’s the bond they formed during the pregnancy and delivery process that keeps them close.

“I’ll text her. She knows about my three kids, I’ll send her pics. It’s just the relationship you build with someone when things get crazy and you have that one piece of stability,” Shevchik said.

“They build a bond which you become family for them you laugh with them you cry with them, you watch their kids grow up and you watch them grow as a couple, as a family,” Carbaugh told Eyewitness News.

Midwives can deliver babies in a home setting, but Geisinger nurse midwives are only permitted to deliver babies in a hospital. If you are expecting, and are not sure whether to see an obstetrician or midwife, simply ask your medical provider about your options. Insurance does cover births performed by midwives.