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What is a Midwife?
People often seem to not know what to expect from a midwife-attended birth.
Some picture a home birth with herbal remedies and minimal intervention and are surprised to hear that midwives can deliver babies in a hospital. Others know that hospital birth is a possibility, but are surprised that epidurals and medications are an option. Many people choose midwives looking for a supported birth that respects the body’s natural processes.
The truth is, if you are under the care of a midwife, your birth can happen in a number of different ways. Almost 95% of U.S. births with a midwife happen in a hospital. Some midwife patients will choose to birth naturally, but others will not. In a normal, healthy pregnancy, midwives support the natural progression of labor and strive to give women the freedom that they desire in their birth. However, we also support a woman’s decision to have assistance during labor, whether that be pain medication, an epidural, or assistance in the progression of labor.
So what sets a midwife’s care apart?
Well, one of the hallmarks of midwifery care is time. During pregnancy, we take the time to listen to you, and not just about medical issues. We care about your concerns and your hopes, and we take the time to let you tell us about them. By the end of your pregnancy, our goal is to have spent hours with you. We want to know you well, and we want you to know us well. Women who have support from someone that they know and trust have shorter labors, they experience less pain, and they are much more satisfied by their birth experiences. Our goal is to be there to support you from the time active labor begins until you are settled in bed with your baby snuggled in your arms.
I had been a labor and delivery nurse for several years before I gave birth to my first baby. During that labor, I realized that labor can be so painful that to endure it takes almost superhuman strength. More importantly, I discovered that the moment of birth is a moment of transcendence: of incandescent joy and fierce, tender love. To support a woman in labor is to enter into the titanic work that she is undertaking, and to understand that you are witnessing a moment when love is born. Our role as midwives is to support a woman and her family during this amazing time, protecting the sacred space of birth with vigilant watchfulness, and providing safe medical intervention when it is needed.