It’s International Day of the Midwife, and worldwide, women are celebrating the wonderful presence midwives have in our birth stories. Here are five reasons midwives make life better!
1. Midwives can lead to better birth outcomes.
A recent study, the first of its kind, showed that when midwives are included fully in the birth process and can practice in their full training and capacity, positive birth outcomes increase. The study found that when there is a strong connection with midwives and the gynecological health care system, there are better birth outcomes.
This connection is what researchers call midwifery integration, and they found that U.S. states with high midwifery integration typically had better birth results, while states that had lower levels of integration also tended to have poorer birth outcome rates. Not to mention better satisfaction with birth stories on the part of the laboring mothers.
2. Women have higher satisfaction with birth stories.
Speaking of better satisfaction…a Canadian study looked at satisfaction rates of mothers who gave birth with midwife involvement when compared to those who primarily had doctors involved in their birth process and found that those who were assigned to midwife groups were more satisfied with their care. The researchers believed that based on their findings, greater access to midwifery care would lead to better satisfaction rates for birthing women.
3. Midwives look at pain differently.
Let’s face it: no one wants to hurt, but midwives understand pain in the birth process in a different way than doctors do. Midwives are trained to facilitate safe births, but to only intervene or add to/take away from the process if medically necessary. While obstetricians often work to ‘manage’ birth for you, a midwife works to ‘facilitate’ birth with you. Sometimes managed care is needed for high-risk patients, but in a low-risk birth, a midwife will help you labor as your body deems it needs to, with little intervention and pain management techniques that are often alternatives to conventional pharmacology options.
4. Midwives can offer more personalized, less rushed care.
Don’t get me wrong: the births of my children required obstetric care, and I was grateful to have some of the best in my area. My obstetrician always does her best to devote as much time and attention as she can to her patients. But the reality of many obstetricians in conventional care and offices is that they just don’t have much option when it comes to giving time and attention. Whether it is because insurance dictates ridiculous time spent with patients or the offices are simply full to the brim with women needing care, many women say that they sometimes feel rushed with their obstetricians, but not so with their midwives.
Many midwifery services are offered in your home, at your convenience, and midwives often spend time not only working with you on your birth process but your life and feelings in general. Many women claim that they find their midwives to not only be trained practitioners but friends who give their undivided attention to you. Women often claim that their midwife treats them as if they are their most important patient, and that is because midwifery offers the option of customized and personal attention with competent care.
5. Midwives are the original ‘old-school’ women’s practitioners.
For generations, midwives have been treating women with compassionate, communal care. They are trained to treat the whole woman, and though many think of them when it comes to pregnancy and birth, they have been women’s primary care practitioners for a long time. From primary care to gynecological, pre-conception and even the treatment of male partners with sexually transmitted infections, midwives are trained to meet needs in the ‘it takes a village,’ mentality.
Though their standards meet or exceed global competencies and standards of midwifery, they actually take care of women as we’d guess our most prehistoric ancestor ‘midwives’ did. Long, long before conventional medicine and specialized women’s care came to be, midwives were tending to the needs of women.