Despite midwives being the norm in Europe, the trend has been slow to catch on in the US. Only 8% of American women use a midwife for birth. Often times, misconceptions about this profession cause many women to miss out on a comprehensive, holistic and safe approach to pregnancy and delivery.
Here are the three biggest misconceptions about midwives – all cleared up:
Midwives Are Medical Professionals
Midwives (translated to mean with women) are medically trained and certified in gynecological and obstetrical care. Many are registered nurses and have master’s degrees. They are qualified to sub in for a physician during a low-risk birth and should not be confused with doulas (who are not medically trained and play more of a general support role for the mother). At White Plains Hospital, our midwife program is integrated within our OBGYN practice – patients are seen in the same office and there is close collaboration with the physicians when needed.
Midwives Provide a Personal Touch to Standard OBGYN Care
With a midwife, obstetrical care is approached holistically rather than specifically through a medical lens and incorporates all aspects of pregnancy such as social skills, coping mechanisms and exercise programs. But perhaps the biggest difference between midwives and OBGYNs is the time that these professionals spend with the laboring mother, either at the hospital or at home. We are there from the beginning, and provide 100% support in labor, including guiding the mother through different positions to help her be as comfortable as possible. As a midwife, I strive to give our patients as close to a “homebirth” experience as possible -- within our modern, comfortable delivery suites at the hospital. If an emergency arises, everything we need is right outside the door, including access to an OBGYN who is always on call and available.
Midwives’ Role Extends Beyond the Delivery Suite
After the birth, midwives stick around to help with lactation. The profession advocates for exclusive breastfeeding, which is known for providing superior benefits for mother and baby, and they will continue to support new mothers once they are discharged home. Midwives will continue to provide postpartum support and gynecologic care, including pap exams and education, until the patient is ready to have their next child and the process starts all over again.
Midwives can add a holistic, personal touch to your birth experience, with the peace of mind of knowing that the traditional medical resources and expertise is readily available should it be needed.