In honor of the International Day of the Midwife 2016, let’s celebrate the excellent and compassionate care they provide to mothers and babies.
Compared with physicians caring for similar healthy women, professional midwives offer women more prenatal visits and spend more time counseling and educating expectant mothers about pregnancy nutrition, childbirth and sexuality. Their patients are less likely to develop prenatal or intrapartum hypertension and are less likely to be hospitalized for prenatal complications.
Midwives recommend fewer inductions of labor. During childbirth, midwives encourage and support freedom of movement, walking during labor and upright positions for birth. Mothers are free to eat and drink.
Midwives are less likely to use medical interventions during childbirth. To augment contractions with pitocin, break the bag of waters, use intravenous fluids in labor, continuous fetal monitoring and pain medication. Their approach to childbirth therefore results in fewer complications for mothers. Less need for an episiotomy, instrumental birth (use of vacuum or forceps), and 3rd or 4th degree lacerations.
With the midwifery model of care, women have fewer cesareans and more VBACs.
Perinatal outcomes are excellent with midwives. Compared with physicians caring for similar healthy women, mothers have fewer or comparable numbers of preterm births and low-birthweight babies. During childbirth, fewer babies experience fetal distress, birth trauma and require admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). At birth babies are more likely to have skin-to-skin contact, more likely not be separated from their mothers and to be exclusively breastfeeding after birth and at 2-4 months later.
Expectant mothers who choose midwives as their primary care provider really value the continuity of care, participation in making decisions and the empathy and the close relationship they develop during pregnancy and birth. They feel confident, respected and supported. Mothers also appreciate the lower cost of midwifery care.
The Mama Sherpas (video)