May 5th is International Day of The Midwife. We have days to recognise many professions, heroes, causes and more.
In fact, we have so many days that it’s easy to miss, or not pay any attention to, most of these awareness days.
While all of these awareness days are important, we want to take a moment to recognise the importance of midwives.
One of the slogans for this day is, “Midwives, changing the world one family at a time”.
The right type of maternity care really has the power to change families! Many midwives offer exceptional, well-trained care.
Why BellyBelly Loves Midwives
Here are 6 reasons why we love midwives:
#1: Midwives Improve Birth Outcomes
Midwifery care is linked to improved birth outcomes. This means that women who receive midwifery care are less likely to have a c-section, be induced, or require vacuum or forceps assistance during a vaginal birth. They’re also more likely to reach full term gestation, go into labour spontaneously, have an intact perineum, and give birth without an epidural.
Babies whose mothers utilise midwifery care are less likely to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight, and are at less risk of neonatal death.
Improved birth outcomes can have lifelong benefits for both mother and baby.
#2: Midwives Offer Options
The type of midwifery care available can vary greatly by location. However, in many regions, midwives are able to offer home birth, out of hospital birth in freestanding birth centres, or hospital birth.
Having options means you can access the benefits of midwifery care in the location you desire, or one that is deemed necessary, based on how your pregnancy progresses. Even if you desire, or need, a more medically managed birth, you can still benefit from the type of care provided by midwifery.
#3: Midwives Receive Training In Normal Physiological Birth
The care approach maternity care providers have is based on the type of training and education they received. Traditionally, midwives are trained in normal physiological birth. When providers believe birth is a normal process, they are able to facilitate a birth that unfolds in the safest possible way, and only intervene when medically necessary.
Obstetricians are often trained to manage birth, rather than simply facilitate it. This is a great skill set for mothers who are higher risk and require more medicalised care. However, for a low risk woman who desires a normal physiological birth, managing labour can mean interfering with that process.
#4: Midwives Offer Personalised Care
While every midwife and maternity care model varies, the basis of midwifery care is personalised care. Midwifery care usually means holistic, or whole woman, care. Rather than simply monitoring the progression of a pregnancy, midwives monitor the woman as a whole.
Prenatal appointments with midwives usually focus on nutrition, overall wellness, mental preparation for birth and motherhood, and informed decision making. Rather than a ‘one size fits all' approach, traditional midwifery looks at each mother, baby and pregnancy as unique.
This personalised care is one of the reasons we see improved birth outcomes with midwifery care. Nutrition education can mean a healthier pregnancy. Having a care provider who is familiar with your unique pregnancy, and who helps educate you about pregnancy and birth can mean detecting risk factors, and signs of preterm labor and other pregnancy complications.
#5: Midwives Offer Well Woman Care Too
When you think of midwifery care you probably think of pregnancy and birth care. However, many midwives offer well woman care too. Just as they offer holistic pregnancy care, focusing on you as a whole, they’re also able to offer holistic well woman care.
Some midwives provide preconception and fertility support, annual pap smears, family planning education, and more. You might not have to say goodbye to your midwife after your six week visit; you can see her for many routine gynecological needs.
#6: Midwives Offer Care That Simply Makes Sense
Much of western culture has been groomed to see birth as a major medical event. However, birth is actually a normal bodily function that often unfolds quite well. Certainly there are times when complications arise, and we are thankful modern obstetrical care exists, but that’s often the exception and not the rule – contrary to what many of us have been led to believe.
Countries that routinely use midwifery care for low risk women have better birth outcomes than countries that routinely use obstetrical care for all women.
All birth interventions come with risk. Inductions, c-sections, and even simply being restricted to the bed, can have a huge impact on birth outcomes. Because of their understanding of how to facilitate a healthy pregnancy and birth, midwives are able to offer the type of care that allows normal physiological birth to unfold.
Birth is normal. As with all normal processes, however, occasionally things can go wrong. In these situations, midwives are well trained to recognise, treat, or transfer care. Rather than medically managing all births, just in case (which increases risks to both mother and baby), midwives monitor and allow birth to progress, offering interventions only as necessary.
For much of history, birth has been supported by knowledgeable women and well trained midwives. Today, midwives offer a wonderful balance of traditional midwifery care, and the skills of a medical professional, to facilitate a safe birth for mother and baby. If you have a midwife, be sure to thank her today. If you don’t have a midwife, consider finding one!