5 myths about midwives

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I was recently lunching with a friend that had given birth to an adorable baby boy a few months ago. It was the first time we had met up since she became a mother and she finally had a chance to tell me the full story of his birth. It was very difficult and a constant refrain was “I wish I had chosen a midwife” “If I ever get pregnant again, I’m definitely choosing a midwife” “We NEED more midwives!” I was sad she had experienced such a difficult pregnancy, labor AND postpartum. I am frequently faced with pregnant women who are trying to make choices for their pregnancy and birth. I always suggest they look into midwives and it seems like very few, if any, take my advice.

I asked my friend, “I’m glad you feel so strongly about the benefits of having a midwife. Why do you think women don’t choose midwives?”

Through her response and our discussion, I realized there are a few common myths or misconceptions about midwives. If only women knew the facts! I’m sure more women would chose midwives and have a happier and healthier birth experience. So here’s the truth, and nothing but the truth:

1. MYTH: Midwives aren’t medically trained to deliver babies.

FACT: Certified Midwives (both Certified Professional Midwives and Certified Nurse Midwives) are well experienced, well trained, professionals! Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) have gone to school to become RN (Registered Nurses) and then went back to college to get an additional degree specializing in midwifery. They then take a nationally recognized certification exam.

FACT: Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) have two routes: complete a 2+yr academic program in addition to getting 2+years clinical experience (at home births and/or in a birth clinic), or complete 3+ years of intense clinical experience. Both routes require the midwife to take the same nationally recognized certification exam as CNMs and get licensed in their state.

FACT: Both CNMs and CPMs provide all of your prenatal care and are the only ones needed at your birth to deliver your baby. Midwives are qualified to provide care for you and your newborn for at least 2 months after birth.

2. MYTH: Midwives aren’t as good as OB/GYNs.

FACT: Historically, midwives have been around longer than OB/GYNs and have passed their generations of information onto one another. Midwives trained some of the first OB’s.

FACT: Midwives are trained to trust, encourage, and guide normal labor. Roughly 85-90% of births are “normal” and do not require emergency surgery. OB/GYNs are trained to combat complicated births and therefore tend to treat birth as an illness or problem. Midwives have seen more natural, safe, healthy births than OB/GYNs with decades more of experience (many OB/GYNs have never seen a natural birth!). Midwives have numerous techniques they can use to help aid a difficult labor before resulting to interventions such as induction, forceps, episiotomy, or cesarian. While midwives rely on natural methods first, they are NOT against medicine, and they are thankful for the benefits hospitals can offer for births that truly need medical intervention.

valhands23. MYTH: OB/GYNs give you better prenatal care.

FACT: Midwives care about all of you; mind, body and spirit. They acknowledge the effect your mental, emotional and spiritual health has on your physical health. The average prenatal visit with a midwife is +1hr, while the average OB/GYN visit is 15 minutes.

4. MYTH: Midwives aren’t as safe as OB/GYNs.

FACT: Midwives have better maternal and infant outcomes than OB/GYNs. The average cesarian rate for a midwife is 10%, while for an OB/GYN it is around 32% or more (resource ACNM)! To give credit where it is due – midwives have lower rates partially because midwives only take on low risk, healthy mothers while many OB/GYNs have to take on more complicated pregnancies. But there is also the factor that midwives treat the whole woman, anticipate health problems and treat them before they become serious and trust natural birth.

FACT: Midwives give better personal and more thorough prenatal, labor and postpartum care. As stated above, they spend more time with you, get to know you better and see signs of potential health risks earlier than an OB/GYN would. They know your personal health and help you combat pregnancy complications (such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes) before they become serious health issues and risk you out of their care. They use natural, healthy ways (such as diet, exercise, and herbal medicine) to help you stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.

5. MYTH: Midwives cost too much.

FACT: Midwives are cheaper than OB/GYN. The average midwife costs roughly $4,000 for all of your prenatal care AND birth (this varies by the midwife, their practice, their experience and location). The average OB/GYN prenatal care costs $1,500. Then the birth can cost over $40,000 (I’ve heard over $100,000 as well)!

FACT: Even if your insurance covers the cost of an OB/GYN but doesn’t cover a midwife, you can end up paying MORE out of pocket for an OB/GYN, depending on how the birth goes. Be sure you know your policy and what “emergencies”, “complications” and additional fees they do NOT cover. You may find yourself paying more for mediocre prenatal care and a disappointing birth experience.

What facts and myths affect your decision on a healthcare provider?

Why choose a midwife?

Every woman goes through an incredible, life changing event when they give birth. The person you chose to care for you and your baby during that event effects generations. Here is a short clip on the philosophy of care midwives have for their clients.

why everyone needs a Doula

I think doulas can be one of the most valuable tools in childbirth, yet so many women go through birth without one.

Since beginning my profession in the realm of childbirth I have had many pregnant friends ask me questions about various things related to pregnancy and birth. No matter who they are or what they think they want for their birth I always recommend they get a doula. Off all my advice, it’s usually the best advice I can give, but it is usually taken the least seriously. Why is that? I think it’s because of two reasons; doulas aren’t a common word outside of pregnancy and they are completely under estimated.

I first learned what a doula was when I was looking into becoming a midwife. One of the pre-reqs for midwifery school was birth doula training. I had no idea what a doula was so I googled it: “a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during or after childbirth, as well as her partner and/or family by providing information, physical assistance and emotional support.[1] The provision of continuous support during labour by doulas (as well as nurses, family or friends) is associated with improved maternal and fetal health and a variety of other benefits.” It is literally translated from the greek word to mean “a woman who serves”. I became more interested… what kind of benefits does a doula provide?

Numerous scientific studies have shown that the care provided by doulas is directly associated with:

  • shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduced negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
  • reduced need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
  • reduced requests for pain medication and/or epidurals

Also, studies demonstrate that parents who receive doula support:

  • Feel more secure and cared for
  • Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
  • Have greater success with breastfeeding
  • Have greater self-confidence
  • Have less postpartum depression
  • Have lower incidence of abuse

So what are these doulas doing that provides all of these benefits? Doulas:

  • Recognize birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
  • Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
  • Stays with the woman throughout the labor
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decision
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience
  • Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level

This is all from the DONA website (which i recommend if you want to learn more about what doulas do, how to find one, or how to become one) but if I had to describe it in my own words… I wouldn’t, I would quote someone else who once said “During labor, the woman’s partner is her right hand and the doula is her left”. Doulas use their experience and knowledge of labor to personally help and advocate for the mother and partner to get through birth.

As a doula I have met with my clients multiple times before the birth to get to know them, their birth desires, and answer questions. I would then attend to the couple (or single mother) as soon as they wanted help. Sometimes this was only a couple hours before the actually birth, sometimes it was a couple days before the birth. No matter how long the labor is, the doula will be there the whole time. After the birth I would ensure the parents have transitioned from “birthing” mode to “connecting with new baby” mode and are ready to be alone with their newest family member. I typically do two follow up meetings following the birth to recap the experience and answer any questions relating to newborn care and labor recovery.

Birth is the most life changing, ever memorable, fragile and miraculous thing you (both mom and dad!) will ever experience.

Wouldn’t you want to invest in ensuring you have the best experience possible?

Now that you know all of this about doulas, do you think you would use one? Please?