Choosing your care provider is often the first big decision you make in pregnancy and birth. And it's an important one since the care provider you choose has a big impact on your pregnancy and birth outcomes. If you've always assumed you'll just go to the OB you've always gone to for your well care, you may want to double check: are you making an informed decision?
In honor of National Midwifery Week, we hope you will take the time to learn about the key facts and differences in prenatal care with a midwife. Did you know that most people who give birth in hospitals are low risk and perfect candidates to give birth under the care of a midwife? The UK has stated that midwife-led care for people with uncomplicated pregnancies is safest and healthiest. Yet, in the United States, only around 9% of births are attended by midwives!
Basic Facts About Birth with a Midwife
- Most all midwives in the United States are designated as CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) or CM (Certified Midwife) and serve in hospitals or birth centers. CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) is the designation given to midwives who serve homebirths. To better understand the education, degrees, and scope of practice, check out this chart.
- Midwives use a personalized and compassionate approach to caring for families in pregnancy and birth. Their care model is one that places a high value on the partnership between provider and patient, and acknowledges a person's own life experiences and knowledge.
- Midwives regard pregnancy and birth as normal life events and use a "watchful waiting" approach in normal processes. They provide care based on best medical evidence and use interventions (like induction, cesarean, pitocin, etc.) only when needed for true medical reasons.
- A midwife respects and advocates for the normal course of labor and birth -- that is, a midwife allows birth to happen on its own without interfering unnecessarily, unless there is a problem and it is safer to intervene.
- A midwife encourages and works well with support people at your birth including your partner/spouse, family member, and/or a doula.
- When a medical procedure is needed, a midwife works to ensure families are informed to make the decision that's right for them.
- Midwives consult, collaborate, and refer out to other members of the health care team when needed in order to provide the best care for families.
- Midwives can improve rates of premature birth, interventions used in birth, breastfeeding, and length of hospital stay.
- People with low risk pregnancies may be best served by a midwife.
- Midwives can provide 87% of the care needed by parents and newborns.
Why Families Love Their Midwife
Now that you know the facts, let's take a look at first-hand accounts of experiences with midwives. The following excerpts have come from bloggers and parents who have shared their midwifery experiences online.
"During appointments, [my midwife] stroked my belly and took the time to answer our questions honestly and thoughtfully. She made us laugh and eased our nerves every step of the way. My labor was very difficult with that baby, but she was there for a lot of the 30 hours. I wanted to have a natural birth and Missy encouraged me and helped me make decisions to aim for that. In the end, I did get the epidural ... and Missy made me feel very comfortable and at peace with that choice."
-Katie, St. Augustine Moms Blog
"Part of my reason for choosing a midwife was as a result of watching my sister-in-law through her pregnancy and birth. Watching the birth of my niece I saw firsthand the amazing care that the midwifery team provided. I wanted that for myself.
The prenatal care was great and I got to know both of the midwives that were on my team. They work in pairs (part of their continuity of care model) and alternate in meetings so you get to know each of them. One or both will be at your birth. I wanted to birth with someone I knew and trusted, not with a doctor who I had never met before. "
-Kim, Pelvienne Wellness
"My midwife is not just there to "deliver" my baby, although she is highly skilled and very knowledgable. She is there to help guide me and remind me that my body is strong…that I am a woman and am capable of giving birth. My midwife sits down with me prenatally and takes time to listen to me and answer any questions I have. She provides evidence-based care and gives me the information that I need so that my husband and I can make informed decisions for our baby and family. My midwife is hands-on and gets to know my husband and I as people, not patients. She knows that every woman is unique--that each mother's experience is different but always life-impacting."
-Lindsey, Blissful Transition
"Each of my visits with a midwife were at least a half an hour (and they were generally right on time!) There was time to get to know each woman who might be attending my birth and for them to get to know me. They knew my priorities, my concerns, my hopes. And they answered my questions and encouraged discussions. When I had questions about certain practices (the necessity of the erythromycin eye ointment comes to mind) they took the time to look up studies and discuss the pros and the cons."
"One of my favorite things about all of the midwives we worked with, was their commitment to giving us just the facts and then letting us make our own choices. There weren't a lot of “you should” in their lexicon, or “I really think that…” commentary. My midwives always kept me and my family at the center of things, not themselves."
Did you consider a midwife for your care? Why or why not?
TagsBirth Pregnancy Midwifery Care Midwife Midwifery Difference National Midwifery Week