Herbal and Other Complementary Medicine Use by Texas Midwives

Authors

  • Bryan P. Bayles PhD

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    • Bryan P. Bayles, PhD, is a medical anthropologist specializing in cross-cultural aspects of maternal and child health and integrative medicine. He holds a faculty appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and is the Assistant Director of the University's Center for Integrative Health.


Center for Integrative Health, Department of Family and Community Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center; 7703 Floyd Curl Dr., Mail Code 7791, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900. E-mail: baylesb@uthscsa.edu

Abstract

This cross-sectional survey sought to document complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by Texas midwives, as well as to determine whether licensed direct-entry midwives (LMs) and certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) differed significantly in their patterns of use. All respondents (n = 69) indicated that they used, recommended, or referred their clients for at least one CAM therapy during the preceding year. Ninety percent (90%) of respondents used, recommended, or referred their clients for an herbal remedy (not including homeopathic tinctures). Herbal therapies were among the top three modalities recommended for 7 of 12 (58%) clinical indications. Herbs were the most salient CAM therapy used for cervical ripening (83%), followed closely by use for nausea, vomiting, and hyperemesis (80%), and labor induction (77%). Herbal therapies also constituted 50% or more of the CAM therapies used for the following indications: anemia/iron supplementation (70%), perineal healing (66%), and anxiety/stress/fatigue (50%). LM respondents used, recommended, or referred their clients for a greater number of herbal therapies compared to CNMs. While several of the CAM modalities used or recommended by Texas midwives show potential for clinical benefit, few have been studied sufficiently to determine their efficacy or safety during pregnancy.

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