What is the Role of a Midwife ?

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The Role of the Midwife

When I was pregnant with my 2nd son, my friend had told me about her experience with a midwife and sang her praises. I asked myself: what is the role of a midwife ? Lacking confidence in having a midwife assist me during birth since I had no idea how exactly they would be able to help me.

Turns out that during my labor, there WAS a midwife present.  My doctor brought in the midwife that assists him and she was with me during the beginning stages of labor. I have to say she was amazing! She was so compassionate and really reassuring and stayed with me until my doctor came back from another delivery. I didn’t want her to leave! After this experience I decided that for my next pregnancy I would try out having a midwife with me. I also learned a few things along the way and about midwifes that were quite eye opening.

History of Midwives

As early as 1550 BC in recorded history we see the practice of midwifery begin in ancient Egypt. Fast forward to the beginning of the last century, midwifery was illegal in some states! Presently, midwifery is no longer illegal (thankfully) and the accolades of the practice just keep growing. It is touted as one of the best ways to give birth. Some even say that the birthing experience with a midwife was better than their experience with a doctor (sign me up!).

I learned that midwives are not just there for the delivery – but they are there for the whole pregnancy and even beyond.  Midwives focus on allowing the woman to have more control over her own health care, in particular over her pregnancy. A midwife will sit with her patient and develop a comprehensive plan for the way the pregnancy and subsequent delivery will take place. There are things to consider that I never gave thought to until I got a small taste of how a midwife could positively help me.

Doing my research I also learned that the doctors approach to labor is very different than a midwifes approach. A doctor tends to see the labor from a more medical view point which means that they will lean more towards medical intervention. A midwife however treats pregnancy and labor more like a natural process that should not require medical intervention unless absolutely necessary. What this meant for me was that now had choices that I never gave thought to until now. Now I knew what the term “birth plan” finally meant.

Choices, Choices

These choices may not seem like much right now, but when you’re in the midst of labor – it may be a little too late to exercise them. Having a midwife assist you not just during labor but during your pregnancy opens up the doors for you to control exactly how you want your experience to be.

For example, do you want to wear a certain set of clothes that are super comfy or would you rather be naked? How about getting a labor stimulant – or not? What if you labor progress is not as fast as it should be – what natural methods can your midwife recommend?  How about having an IV during labor? Get an episiotomy? A fetal monitor? Should the lights where I birth my baby be super bright or dimmed down? How about a warm pool or a bath for the delivery? Choices, choices, choices! Under a doctor’s care, these choices would be made by the doctor. With a midwife, I can sit down with her and discuss these ahead of time. Giving birth my way!

Many have this preconceived notion that having a midwife assist a pregnancy is old fashioned, unhealthy and unsafe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Midwives have been in the baby business for thousands of years. While medicine and how we treat pregnancy has changed over the years, pregnancy and birthing have been the same since the beginning of mankind – no changes there!  A midwife knows the natural rhythms – the ebb and flow  – of pregnancy and subsequent labor. The midwifery trade has had this knowledge handed down from generation to generation. Who better than her to help deliver your baby?

Look, I’m not saying doctors are bad. Let me stress the fact that if you have had low risk pregnancies in the past or are generally healthy then a midwife is a great option for you. However if you have had a high risk pregnancy or would have a high risk pregnancy due to health conditions then a doctor is your best recourse.

The best of both worlds would be to have a midwife assist you in a birthing room just mere feet away from a doctor and medical emergency equipment (just in case). More on that in a minute.

Research has shown time and again that midwife assisted births have more vaginal births and less cesareans. They require less episiotomies, less anesthesia and heal faster. Overall, these moms have a generally more satisfied experience with a delivery supervised by a midwife.

Thankfully there is now such a place where midwives co-practice alongside with experienced OBGYN doctors here in New York. The Birthing Center of NY located in Bay Ridge Brooklyn is a facility that is a true birthing center. It’s a standalone, non-hospital center that is family centric and has caring certified nurse midwives that are over seen by a board certified OBGYN doctor. Here you will find private large birthing rooms with showers and birthing tubs. You will have the best prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care along with:

  • Nutritional education
  • Advice on how to relieve common discomforts
  • Exercise
  • Labor preparation classes
  • Infant care education

The best part is the YOU are in control – you can move about freely in labor. You can eat, drink and walk or not. You can give birth in any position that feels right for you.

Take a virtual tour through the facility by clicking this link and take a look for yourself. You can even schedule a tour of the facility – just give them a call or send an email for more details. The NY Birthing Center is here for you!