What You Need to Know about Midwifery Care

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Boston, MA, USA

Why You Should Consider Midwifery Care

[This is also an episode of Friday Free Talk on The Tranquility Tribe Podcast on iTunes. Listen here.]

Hey, Tranquility Tribe!   Have you ever wondered about the differences between a midwife and an OB/GYN?  Are you considering finding a midwife but not sure what type to look for?  Did you know that many midwives do more than just birth work?  Today, Hehe sits down with Hannah Proctor, a certified nurse midwife who graduated from Vanderbilt, to talk about the ins and outs of midwifery!

Differences in approach

Midwives and OB/GYNs differ mainly in how they approach the birth process.  Midwives tend to have a more individualized perspective when interacting with an expectant parent, with a stronger focus on viewing the woman as a whole person and taking into account her hobbies, family, and past experiences.  Because of this approach, midwives typically think about an expectant parent as more of a partner than a patient.  On the other hand, OB/GYNs take more of a standardized and medicalized approach, which can make them especially beneficial when an expectant parent is high risk.

Another important difference between midwives and OB/GYNs is that midwives view the processes of pregnancy, labor, and birth as natural phenomenons that the body is capable of performing, even in the case of some complications.  This approach makes midwives especially suitable for women who want their births to be as natural as possible, although you don’t need to have a natural birth to have a midwife!  In addition, midwives tend to be present throughout the entirety of the labor, which is not traditional among OB/GYNs. 

Regardless of who you decide to name for your birth team, the most important thing is that you are aware that you have options and are educated about what those options entail.  It is your pregnancy and your delivery, so you deserve to make choices that will allow you to have the best experience possible.  And there are so many choices that can be made and so many options to make your birth experience just right!  There is way more than one right way to give birth.  This is especially important for parents who have previous traumatic birth experiences.  Giving birth is daunting, and even more so if a past birth did not go as well as planned or expected.  Making sure that the expectant parent knows her options and feels empowered to make decisions is a very important way to respect that everyone has their own story and is approaching birth in their own way.  Remember, you deserve to be heard!

Another decision that you can make is where you want your birth to take place.  From home births to hospital births and everything in between (like birth centers!), it’s important to choose a location where you will feel comfortable and supported.  Of course, as Hannah points out, there are some safety tips that need to be considered – for example, if the expectant parent is a high risk patient due to conditions such as preeclampsia or Type 1 diabetes, it might be medically necessary for her to see an OB/GYN and have her birth in a hospital.  However, just because you may be high risk does not mean that you no longer have choices for your birth.

So if you want a midwife, how do you decide which one is the best for you?

There are multiple different types of midwives, each with different types of education, scopes of practice, and levels of autonomy.  Certified nurse midwives, or CNMs, are able to practice in all 50 states and often provide a variety of services for all individuals between puberty and menopause, from primary care to family planning and even providing treatment to partners of patients who have been diagnosed with an STI.  On the other hand, certified professional midwives, or CPMs, receive their training through apprenticeship and more often work outside of the hospital, providing prenatal, pregnancy, and birth support in birth centers or at home births.  There are many options within these two categories – these options may seem overwhelming at first, but they are a great opportunity to help you to find the midwife that is just right for your birthing needs!

The rise of the midwives!

Midwifery is becoming more and more popular as an increasing number of expecting parents decide to choose more natural birth options and opt for providers that help them feel like their voices are heard.  Although there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the true abilities and qualifications of midwives, these practitioners are truly very qualified and safe options that women deserve to have.  An increasing amount of legislation around the independence and authority of midwives has helped to make midwives accessible options for a greater number of women, but more education about the abilities and benefits of having a midwife is needed. 

And these benefits aren’t just limited to the expectant parent!  Research has suggested that care by a midwife under the midwifery model decreases a woman’s risk of having a c-section, reduces the rate of labor induction, decreases the risk of 3rd and 4th degree perineal tears, and even decreases the costs of births to payers.  Furthermore, having a system of team-based care enables midwives to treat low-risk mothers with support from physicians only when necessary, which allows the physicians to focus more on the high-risk mothers who need more medical attention, creating a more effective and efficient system of labor and delivery. 

Regardless of the type of practitioner that you choose for your birth, the fact that there are so many options that provide women with more autonomy and support in the birth world is incredible!  Even if you aren’t expecting, don’t be afraid to speak up, use your voice, and get the care that you want and deserve!

If you have more questions or want to reach out to Hannah, email Hehe at tranquilitybyhehe@gmail.com!

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

Written by our Guest Blogger, Kyra Shreeve. She is a Biochemistry, Health Policy, and Music student at Brandeis University. 

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