Midwives have been helping women deliver their babies for thousands of years – which may or may not give you confidence in their abilities to help modern moms give birth. As medical understanding has grown though, so has the way that midwives understand pregnancy and health, and many new moms believe midwife-assisted birth is the best way to bring their little ones into the world. Could delivery with a midwife be right for your family?
The power of choice
If you’re going to use an obstetrician for delivery, there really isn’t much of a question about where you’ll deliver, unless you happen to get caught in traffic on the way – the hospital that doctor works at is pretty much the only option on the table. With a midwife though, depending on the policies of the midwife group or practice you end up choosing, the options are less limited. You could deliver in your very own living room, in a birthing center either inside or outside of a hospital, or even in the same hospital where you’d deliver with a doctor, just steps away from a hospital’s worth of technology and medication but also with a midwife by your side.
Having a midwife doesn’t even necessarily mean you lose your choice about pain relief and whether or not you want an epidural. In many areas, even certified midwives can’t legally administer epidurals. But if you’re giving birth with a midwife in a hospital or birthing center within a hospital, an anesthesiologist will be on-hand to administer an epidural if you want one.
It’s all about you
Midwives tend to have fewer patients, and they tend to spend longer talking to their patients during prenatal appointments. This level of personal attention gives midwives the chance to get to know their patients and open the path of communication allowing the patient to discuss her concerns about her pregnancy and birth. Getting the chance to spend more time with your midwife (visits are often 15 minutes instead of 10 with an OB-GYN), and to build a more personal and candid relationship, can also help you to feel more prepared not just for birth, but for parenthood in general.
Midwives can’t guarantee a birth that won’t require medication or intervention, and there’s no way to know for sure that a natural birth is right for you, no matter how low-risk your pregnancy seems. But it’s also true that midwives are committed to working towards helping women have the birth experience they want. If having a natural birth is important to you, a midwife can be an important resource for helping you reach that goal.
Midwives are often able to offer insight into infant care. If you’re a new mom who plans to breastfeed, a midwife could help solve feeding or latching problems early on. Midwives are also associated with a high rate of satisfaction with their infant care.
Delivery with midwives isn’t for everyone, but if your pregnancy doesn’t have many risk factors, working with a midwife should be something you consider. Women who choose midwives for delivery, whether it’s in a hospital, birthing center, or at home, often feel like they develop bonds with their midwives that help them to have healthy, fulfilling births. A little further research could help solidify whether or not you think delivery with a midwife is right for you.
- “Midwifery: Evidence-based practice.” Midwife. American College of Nurse-Midwives, Apr 2012. Web.
- E Declercq. “Trends in midwife-attended births in the United States, 1989-2009.” J Midwifery Womens Health. 57(4):321-6. Web. Jul-Aug 2012.