What’s all the talk about Midwives?
Lately there has been quite a bit of chatter within the clinic about midwives and how they can assist you during your birth process. I thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to give you some information on what a midwife can offer, how they are different/ similar to a doctor, and what you can expect if you should choose a midwife to deliver your baby.
Midwife comes from old English meaning “with woman”. Midwives have helped deliver babies since the beginning of recorded history, and there are Midwifery references that date back as far as Hindu, Greek and Roman times. North American Midwives learned and honed their craft through apprenticeship and the passing skills through generations of women.
A Midwife education stresses that pregnancy and giving birth as a normal, healthy and natural event until proven otherwise. They can often view their role as supporting the pregnant woman, while allowing nature take its own course of action. Midwives provide care during the pregnancy, during the labor and after the postpartum period. They often encourage women to trust in their own bodies and instincts. They also encourage women to make their own educated decisions about what is best for their personal journey during pregnancy, birth and parenting.
So, what is a Midwife and what can they do for me?
Midwives are similar to a doctor in the fact that they spend most time during prenatal visits addressing women’s individual concerns and needs. Midwives tend not to use invasive technologies to monitor mom and baby. There is a reduced emphasis on preventative testing, ultrasounds and continuous fetal monitoring. Most Midwives agree that the least amount of intervention for mom and baby is preferable for an uncomplicated pregnancy.
So, what if your pregnancy is complicated? Can you still see a midwife? The answer is yes!
A higher risk pregnancy or pregnancy with complications just has a more intense and hands on approach than a “regular” pregnancy. The major difference between a doctor’s approach and a midwife’s approach is the ability to surgically intervene if the need should arise. As well, some midwives cannot administer drugs or anesthesia, and cannot perform caesarian sections.
If you are choosing to deliver your baby in a non-medical environment, non-medical birth center, or at home, an emergency backup plan will always be recommended by your midwife and can be crucial if an emergency does arise. If you choose to have your labor and delivery in a hospital setting, your Midwife will stay with you as much as possible during your labor and delivery; often times women will also have a Doula to lend extra support and encouragement to them during their labor and delivery process.
Your Midwife may recommend specific body positioning during labor such as walking, showering, rocking or leaning on a birthing ball as coping mechanisms for the physical pains of labor. Your Midwife may also allow or encourage you to eat and drink small amounts while laboring to keep energy levels up and to stay hydrated.
What kind of education or training does a Midwife have?
Midwives come from a variety of backgrounds, which can include, but are not limited to:
- A bachelor’s degree or masters or doctoral degree
- They have completed both nursing and midwifery training
- They have passed exams to become certified and have fulfilled provincial licensing requirements
- May work in conjunction with a doctor
Why choose a Midwife?
- If you are looking for a natural or holistic approach to your pregnancy / labor and delivery experience. Or you are looking for minimal medical intervention, then a midwife may be the right choice for you
- A midwife can help to reassure you and help quell any fears or anxieties that you may be experiencing before and during your labor and delivery
- Evaluate your medical needs to assess whether or not a Midwife is the right choice for you and your baby
How to find a Midwife?
- Interview perspective Midwives carefully. Investigate their backgrounds, certificates, expertise, and back up emergency procedures
- Make sure your personalities are compatible, that you feel comfortable with your perspective midwife, and can openly and honestly communicate with her
Like anything, choosing to have a midwife support you during your pregnancy and delivery is a deeply personal decision. Feel confident in your decision to use a Midwife as opposed to an obstetrician. Weigh the pros and cons of each choice and follow your intuition. If it doesn’t feel natural for you to use a doctor, a Midwife maybe the right decision for you and your baby.
Karly Lynn C.H.N.
Below are some websites on Midwifery support and information in the Calgary area: