5 Reasons to Choose a Midwife
Midwife means “with woman” in old English. There has been a new trend in prenatal care in the United States back towards the use of midwives and a more holistic approach to pregnancy & birth. Midwifery care is the standard in many other countries like England, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand. These countries have fewer cesarean sections, fewer maternal/fetal deaths and far fewer interventions (Labor Inductions, Epidurals, IV’s, Attached Monitors…) than the United States. This is why so many women are searching for a different path to prenatal care, and labor and birth.
The Midwifery Model of Care encourages a partnership in care versus a more dictatorial type relationship; which is often found in the standard U.S. medical model of care. Midwives support a more holistic and natural approach to women’s health and maternity care. Here is what we believe:
- We believe every person has a right to an equitable, ethical, and accessible quality of health care that promotes healing and health.
- We believe in respecting the individual and their rights to make informed decisions regarding their health care needs.
- We believe pregnancy is a normal part of a woman’s life. She is NOT sick, just growing a life.
- We believe in compassionate care of the woman and her family.
- We believe, care should be individualized based on the woman’s life experiences, culture, and preferences.
- We believe in honoring a woman’s natural life cycle events through: watchful waiting, refraining from interfering with normal processes; interventions when necessary and/or requested health care; and collaboration with other healthcare professionals as needed. The following are five reasons to choose a midwife for pregnancy or all your healthcare needs.
1 – A Midwife is More Than Just a Provider
Midwives strive to get to know you and your family. The goal is to understand your needs in your pregnancy and birth and help you meet those goals in a supportive and safe environment, whether that be at home, at a birth center, or the hospital. When choosing a hospital midwife, talk to them about the protocols they are bound to by the hospital systems, such as timelines for progress in all stages of labor and how many weeks you are allowed to go before inducing. Out-of-hospital midwives are not bound to these same protocols.
2 – Midwives Strive to Provide the Most Current Evidenced-Based Care
In the normal medical model of care, physicians provide care on what is currently being done, and it takes a long time to get new evidence in practice. The midwifery model of care encourages all midwives to stay updated and implement current research. We don’t just look at one small portion of midwifery care, but keep up with what is going on worldwide in the midwifery community so we can provide the most up to date care with confidence. For example, the medical model of care in most environments will not allow eating and drinking in labor. However, midwives have known this physiological practice is safe and normal for many years, and it is supported in the literature. Please feel free to email me for clinical trial research data.
3 – Birth is a NORMAL Function in a Woman’s Life Cycle
Women instinctively know this, but have been scared into believing that they cannot trust their own body’s abilities. They have been made to believe their pelvises are too small, their cervix “won’t dilate,” their body doesn’t know when to go into labor, etc. As midwife legend, Ina Mae Gaskin states “Your body is not a lemon”. Meaning your body is perfectly designed to go into labor and have a baby. Midwives know this and believe it in their core. Is birth 100% safe? No – but nothing is in life. However, todays midwives are highly trained to recognize and adapt in the rare instances where medical intervention is required. A good midwife will monitor and observe your labor and delivery to ensure it’s the safest it can be, and if necessary, will transfer you to a higher level of care. Thank goodness there is an alternative when needed – it’s just not needed as much as it is used. Midwives encourage women to trust their bodies and their instincts, not just during pregnancy, labor and birth, but as mothers as well. No one knows your body or your baby as well as you do.
4 – CNM, CM, CPM, LM are all Midwives
All of them are highly-trained individuals that have gone through rigorous programs that require high standards. All practice a midwifery model of care, although there may be individual differences in how they do this. Ask questions, and interview several before choosing. You want someone you can trust and relate to on a very personal level.
- The main differences in the midwives are CNMs and CMs are trained to offer complete women’s health care services, such as; routine well woman visits, balancing hormones, thyroid care, managing diabetes and a variety of healthcare needs. Many CNMs and CMs approach this from a holistic and natural point of view to keep women off pharmaceuticals.
- CPM and LM specialize in pregnancy, birth, and post-partum care only. Their education requires a very high level of competency. All these different midwives have the same goal for the expectant mother; a safe and healthy pregnancy, a beautiful birth experience, and loving post-partum care for mother and baby.
5 – Midwives have better outcomes than the standard medical establishment
This has been documented recently in the Birth Center II Study where researchers found that the overall cesarean section rate amongst birth centers nationwide is 6% versus 33% in the hospital system nationwide. In this 2009 study published by CMAJ-JAMC, “planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2742137/). The most recent study published in 2014 in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s health reviewed over 16, 900 low risk women having home births attended by qualified midwives. The study found less intervention, a 5.7% cesarean rate, and no increase in adverse outcomes (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmwh.12172/abstract). Nothing is 100% safe or guaranteed. I wish that were the case. However, in the U.S. the traditional model of care for low risk women in pregnancy and delivery is not that great.
I would encourage women to do the research themselves. Look at the links above, check out the Evidenced Based Birth website, and read Ina Mae Gaskin’s book Guide to Childbirth or watch the documentary, The Business of Being Born, and there are many more resources available online. All the information is out there. We as women need to encourage each other and trust our instincts. Again, midwife means “with woman”. God Bless and good luck to all women on their individual journeys.
If you have any questions or comment you can leave them for me in the comment section below or if you feel more comfortable you can email me at Jaelin@SHEis.com
Jaelin Stickels is a Certified Nurse Midwife and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. She is currently working at a women’s health clinic and birth center in the Houston, Texas, area as well as running her own homebirth practice. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from University of Texas and a Master’s Degree from Georgetown; she is currently working toward her Doctorate. She has dedicated nearly 15 years of her life to serving women as a medical professional and is passionate about helping them to be empowered in all aspects of their lives.