What Is A Midwife And How Can Midwifery Help When Giving Birth?

March 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Labor and Delivery

Since time immemorial, the process of childbirth was sacrosanct between the expectant mother and her midwife. The role of the midwife was to assist in childbirth, and was often undertaken by the older women of the community who had given birth themselves and had a lot of experience in the process. These women offered comfort to the expectant mother, as well as the medical skills that came from experience. And when required, they stepped in with an extra pair of hands to perform whatever was required.

As medical know-how grew in the 1800s with plenty of people learning obstetrics, the age of the midwife slowly began to die out, until midwives were only found in the smallest of villages in the United States. However, in the last few decades, midwifery has once again caught on, and many women today actually prefer to have midwives with them during childbirth. The only difference is that today, midwives tend to be licensed nurses who have a lot of traditional, time-honored knowledge and experience of childbirth.

In the past, childbirth almost always happened in the home. Today, no mother will even think of having her child delivered at home! Women want to have midwives, but they also want to deliver in the hospital. This is why midwifery in today’s world retains little of its original purpose.

Most births that occur are normal, in which case the midwife becomes a comforter who is there to pat the expectant mother’s hand and assure her that everything is going perfectly. She offers a sense of reassurance and comfort with her mere presence. However, the work of the midwife does not stop at the delivery table.

Midwives perform much the same function as obstetricians, only at lower rates. They are on hand for any prenatal troubles and advice, and are present through most of the labor and delivery. Most obstetricians are too busy to be with the expectant mother through the entire process, whilst the midwife can dedicate all her time to the expectant mother. This is especially important for a first-time mother, who will naturally be uncomfortable and scared of the natural childbirth process. Having an expert on hand matters a lot.

Midwives, due to their vast experience, have excellent knowledge of all the complications that can occur during childbirth: breech births, preclampsia and so on, and are mentally equipped to deal with them. They also have a good working relationship with an obstetrician which will serve to comfort the expectant mother. Many midwives also perform blood pressure checks, as well as checks for levels of iron in the blood and the like. This is done to ensure the health of the mother before birth, and consequently, that of the baby.

Midwives aren’t hard to come by. You can simply get a recommendation from a friend who has had a good experience with one, or you can contact the American College of Nurse Midwives in Washington, DC. Their website is http://acnm.org/ is the best place to get your midwife!