Choosing your care provider is one of the most important (if not the most important) choice you’ll make when you’re pregnant. That’s because care models can differ drastically from provider to provider. It’s no big surprise that different policies, practices and approaches to birth lead to extremely different labor outcomes. So, taking time to think about what’s important to you in your delivery and whether it aligns with your provider’s practices is crucial.
Midwives and obstetricians often have hugely different ideas about what makes a positive birth experience and you charge of choosing what feels most comfortable and compatible for you. In terms of safety, the long-held belief has been that obstetricians are undoubtedly the best bet. But research actually shows that in many ways, midwife-led births have more benefits in terms of safe outcomes. They tend to be less invasive with lower rates of unnecessary surgery and thus, shorter recoveries, which is probably why in recent years, many more individuals are turning to midwives for safe, evidence-based birth.
Here are 5 things midwives are doing better:
They believe in the value of patience
Midwives know that patience is truly a virtue in the birthing room. That’s because no two births are exactly alike and there’s no ideal time-frame that a baby is born in. Births can be fast and furious or long and strenuous, happening over a few hours or even a few days time. By giving a woman adequate time to deliver, which doesn’t happen in many hospital delivery rooms, unpleasant and unnecessary procedures (like major surgery) can be avoided in record numbers. We don’t often see a lot of patient in modern culture when it comes to giving birth, in spite of the fact that is is crucial to healthy, uncomplicated deliveries.
They make choices a priority
In a standard hospital delivery under obstetrician-led care, it’s often hard to come by options during delivery. Things like what position you’ll be in and even what procedures are done to your body often are overlooked because hospital policies can take priority. But choices about birth are extremely important in helping a laboring mom-to-be feel calm and relaxed, in her comfort, and in allowing her labor to progress. In the midwifery model of care, a woman’s experience of giving birth is often given a lot of value, therefore her choices are less likely to be overlooked than in the standard model of care.
They understand the benefits of movement during delivery
Delivering flat on your back happens frequently in OB-led birth. While it may make it easier for doctors and nurses to navigate the delivery room and control the birth, it doesn’t often make it easier for the most important person in the room: the laboring person. Staying static in a reclined position leads to lengthier (and often more uncomfortable) labors. But sometimes dated policies that aren’t based on evidence can trap a women in the hospital bed. Midwives believe that movement can be a powerful tool during delivery and will usually encourage moms to get up and move to aid in the process, not the opposite.
They don’t induce (unless there’s medical need)
Inductions are common occurrences in American births. These days, a woman might consider herself lucky to hit the 40 week mark without being told by her provider that she needs an induction. But those inductions are often not medically necessary. Midwives know that there is a huge range in length of pregnancy. Healthy births can happen from 37 to 42 weeks (or sometimes even later, as long as there is no need for an induction). The fact is, inductions can seem harmless, just a way to kick off labor, but often lead to a cascade of interventions. Frequently, if labor doesn’t progress or the baby does not tolerate the induction well, they result in cesarean birth that may have not been necessary at all had the mother been given the time she needed to simply go into labor on her own.
They support many variations of normal
In a hospital delivery, certain types of birth are considered unquestionably too dangerous for a vaginal delivery, like breech or twin birth. But there’s a reason those births might be risky. Mostly, it’s because it’s not in most obstetricians scope of practice. Most OBs don’t practice breech or twin birth, therefore a c-section might be warranted without true medical need. However most midwives don’t view these types of birth as an automatic need for surgical invention simply because they are trained in how to support them. If we’ve long held the belief that twin and breech birth are dangerous, we might have trouble believing that a person can, in fact, deliver babies safely in those scenarios without the need for medical intervention. Most often, the birthing person just needs a well-trained person to support her in that birth. Midwives are up to the task.