Why choose a midwife? Here are 5 reasons
Having more options for your birth setting is one benefit of using a midwife for pregnancy. Here are four more.
The word “midwife” literally means “with woman,” which is perfect, when you consider that more and more women are choosing midwives for their prenatal care.
According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the percentage of midwife-attended births in the U.S. has increased every year since 1989. In 2014, certified midwives attended approximately 8.3 percent of all U.S. births. This is in stark contrast to the fact that, worldwide, midwives attend 80 percent of births. Given that the U.S. ranks poorly in maternal mortality and Cesarean rates, other countries might have the right idea.
Gone are the days where midwives were only for granola-eating hippies – the benefits of using a midwife are numerous, and more people are realizing this. While choosing your care provider for preconception, pregnancy, birth and beyond is a personal choice and can vary widely depending on medical history and risk factors, we’ve put together five reasons why using a midwife might be a great fit for you.
1. You believe pregnancy and birth are normal, natural experiences, and not medical situations to be managed.
The midwifery model sees pregnancy and childbirth as normal events to be integrated into the lifespan. The focus is on creating a healthy, safe experience, as well as empowering the birthing woman. The importance of the birth experience is recognized, and midwives support the normal, healthy process to unfold, turning to medical interventions like epidurals and IVs only when they are wanted or needed. Perhaps most importantly, midwifery is relationship-based; the practitioner-client relationship is very important, since the focus is on helping the client achieve her ideal birth as best she can. Midwifery is woman-centered care, with respect for her preferences and her bodily autonomy at the core of the profession.
2. The use of midwives has been shown to improve birth outcomes.
According to the World Health Organization, midwives have been associated with lower rates of premature birth, increased pleasure with the birth experience, lower rate of epidural use and a lower episiotomy rate. There are fewer interventions, such as forceps or vacuum, and the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth was increased. Adverse events are not increased if a person chooses a midwife instead of an obstetrician.
3. You have more options for your birth setting.
Planning a homebirth? Some midwives do that. Leaning toward a birth center birth? Midwives work at birth centers. Want a hospital birth? Yup, midwives also catch babies at the hospital. Many midwives have privileges at hospitals and work alongside obstetricians, so even if you start at a birth center and have to be transferred, you might still be able to stay with your midwife.
4. You want to take an active role in your prenatal care and birth experience.
When you choose a midwife, it’s likely that your prenatal visits will be longer than you might be used to; instead of simply getting vital signs and any checks, the midwife will concentrate on getting to know you, answer any questions or concerns, and find out how you’d like to birth. Midwives see their patients as partners in the process. They also place the pregnancy and birth in the larger social environment of the woman, taking a more holistic view and integrating the pregnancy and birth into the bigger picture.
5. It tends to be more affordable.
Even with insurance, medical bills for a hospital and obstetrical care can run tens of thousands of dollars. Midwifery care is considerably less expensive, even at a birth center, and most midwives take insurance, further cutting costs.
This post was written by Baby+Company’s Amy Romano, a certified nurse-midwife with an MBA in leadership in healthcare from the Yale School of Management and a Masters of Science in nursing from the Yale School of Nursing. She has worked in the maternity care field as a nurse, midwife, research analyst, educator and consumer advocate since 2001. She is a nationally recognized leader in maternity care innovation and quality. She co-authored “Optimal Care in Childbirth,” selected as the Book of the Year for 2013 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
There are many reasons to choose midwives for your prenatal care. What were/are yours? Share them in the comments below.