If you are trying to get pregnant, just found out you are pregnant, planning for a pregnancy in the future, or seeking a new provider, it's important for you to know that -- like most things in life -- you have options. In honor of the International Day of the Midwife, we are presenting key facts and differences about prenatal care with a midwife. Let's take a look:
- 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 of partnership that 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 the best evidence and use medical interventions (like induction, cesarean, pitocin, etc.) only when parent or baby has a specific health concern.
- A midwife respects and advocates for the normal physiologic ("natural") course of labor and birth.
- A midwife encourages and works well with support people at your birth, like 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, the use of 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 full midwifery experience on the internet.
This mother who writes at It's Dilovely, talks about her shared care between OBs and midwives for her second pregnancy after a stillborn loss. After a less-than-empathic experience with her OB, she records her thoughts in a mock interview with her OB:
"Are you going to give me a half-hour or more of your time per appointment, to anticipate my questions, educate me on possibilities and options, and allay my worries? (Statistics from my mom friends would indicate NO, you are much more likely to give me 3-5 minutes per appointment.)
Are you going to come to my home to check me when I’ve been in labour for sixteen hours, so I don’t have to get in the car only to turn around and come home again?
Are you going to attend my birth for support, even when you’re no longer in charge?
Are you going to do six weeks of post-partum care for me and my newborn?"
A writer on the St. Augustine Moms Blog shares praise for her midwife and dispels the common myth that midwives are only for "natural" births with no pain medication:
"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 (which was incredible and I was wholeheartedly praising Jesus for it!) and Missy made me feel very comfortable and at peace with that choice. She made me feel strong because I was a woman who was birthing; it didn’t matter what “kind” of birth it turned out to be."
One mother and professional writer shares on Mothering her experience with midwives at her own birth and as a doula:
"Nothing was on their schedule or on their terms. It was truly a partnership between my family and their practice. They provided the safety, the educational support and from there, I was able to birth on my terms. This is not just true for out-of-hospital births. Midwives who attend birth in hospitals do this as well! I attended a labor as a doula. It was in a hospital; and the midwife and nurses were wonderfully reverent in the mother’s process."
This mom blogger at The Momma Stuff Blog talks about being truly heard by her midwife:
"When I talk, Lori listens. I feel like she truly 'hears' what I have to say and she is always conscious and aware of both hubs and I's wants, fears and needs. When we went into the hospital to deliver the boy we never bothered with a written birth plan, we had verbally discussed everything with Lori and knew that she would be by our side to ensure nothing went askew. It was comforting to know that we wouldn't be at the mercy of unknown nurses and that Lori would be there throughout labour rather than just coming in at the last moment to 'catch' the baby."
Regarding the typical midwifery partnership, this mom shares her experience on Romper:
"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."