What is a midwife and why would you choose one over a doctor?
Isn’t it safer to have an OB deliver your baby?
What if something goes wrong?
I seemed to get these questions a lot when I was pregnant.
What are Midwives?
There are two types of midwives currently practicing:
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) which is a Registered Nurse with a Midwifery degree on a Masters level.
- Direct Entry Midwife is a midwife who became a midwife without the background of a nursing degree. Direct entry midwives include several subcategories which reflect the country they are practicing in and the legalities surrounding it.
Midwives are trained to deliver babies at home, in birthing centers and in hospitals.
How are midwives different from doctors?
Doctors go through 4 years of pre-med undergraduate studies. They then attend medical school for 4 years. After that they spend several years in internship and residency at a hospital in whichever field they are specializing in.
OB-GYNs, or Obstetricians, are studying many different fields of medicine when they are in medical school, not just obstetrics which may be a focus of just one semester.
The midwifery philosophy towards pregnancy and childbirth differ from doctor’s philosophy in the following ways:
Midwives view pregnancy and childbirth as a normal, natural process.
Midwives respect a woman’s body and trust it to do the job it was created to do.
They are supportive of women having a natural birth, with minimal interventions, while doctors view pregnancy and childbirth as a disorder to be managed.
A midwife will spend time with you at your prenatal appointments, with statistically more face to face time than you will get with a doctor. Midwives love to teach and explain the changes your body is going through, and they will listen to you and hear your concerns, worries and fears.
Midwives are women. I have never heard or seen a male midwife, and while there are some excellent male obstetricians, they will never understand you like a woman can. Women supporting women is historically what we have done for each other through pregnancy and childbirth.
I can’t tell you how many complaints I’ve heard from women describing their prenatal appointments with their doctors:
“He barely even looked at me and answered my questions with short answers while typing his notes on the computer.”
“Every question I had he replied with: ‘Don’t worry it’ll be ok.'”
“My appointment was all of 5 minutes, with the doctor in my room for 3 minutes total.”
Isn’t it Safer to Have an Obstetrician Attend Your Birth?
The United State has the highest rate of OBs delivering babies compared to the rest of the world, but is ranked 28th among developed countries in maternal mortality rates.
The c-section rate in the United States is 32%.
That means that 1 in every 3 births is a c-section.
Are women really made so inefficiently that they can’t birth their babies naturally one out of every three times?
Wait, it gets better:
Studies show that Doctors are more likely to administer pitocin, use a continuous fetal monitor, and use forceps or vacuum extraction for deliveries.
Yes you read that right.
Delivering with a doctor in the hospital has been likened to a ticking clock.
Once a woman has been admitted to the hospital in labor, the clock starts ticking and labor must progress accordingly.
It runs something like 1 cm dilatation per hour.
Then if labor stalls, according to the textbooks, a medical intervention might be required.
As long as the baby is doing ok and mom is ok with waiting, midwives will let labor progress on its own. Midwives understand that there are no rules when it comes to birth and every birth runs on its own clock.
Midwives stay at your side during labor, helping you manage your contractions and advising you on which positions may help you, or they may even give you a back rub.
It’s rare to find a doctor who will do that. Typically the nurse will give him a call when she senses you are up to pushing.
Midwives will help you start off breastfeeding and ensure you have time to bond with your baby after birth.
This is a holistic approach that doctors are not taught in medical school. Doctors will leave it to your nurse to teach you about breastfeeding and bonding, which will leave you with the luck of the draw as to which nurse you are assigned to.
How do you go about choosing a midwife?
Besides asking friends and neighbors for recommendations, you can research midwives in your area on the web.
In addition, there are helpful Facebook groups where you can ask for recommendations from group members.
When you go to meet a prospective midwife it is a good idea to go prepared with questions for them, sort of like an interview. To print out a free downloadable comprehensive list of interview questions just go to www.homebirthmom.com
Some sample questions include:
• Are you a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)?
• How long have you been practicing?
• What is your philosophy on birth?
• Do you provide labor support?
• Have you ever lost a mother or a baby at a delivery?
These questions should give you a picture of what the midwife’s practice is like and what you can expect from her if she were to care for you.
Here’s the good news:
Study after study has shown that women cared for by midwives are happier and more satisfied with their prenatal care and labor and delivery than women delivered by obstetricians.
Midwives are becoming more popular and for good reason.
With their improved maternal and fetal outcomes, midwives are a no-brainer.
While obstetricians are an important choice for high risk pregnancies.
For healthy women with low-risk pregnancies, make delivering with a midwife your first choice.
Had a good experience with your midwife? Please share it below ⬇