By: Alyssa Johns, LM, CPM
Midwives are a special breed and the care they provide is vastly different than the style of care typical in the western world. Here are some things that set us apart:
1. We believe your birth is normal until proven otherwise.
Pregnancy and birth are natural functions of the body, they are not illnesses or medical conditions. Yes, of course there are times that medical intervention is needed and times when complications arise. We are so thankful for the many things other providers can do when needed to keep us and our babies safe. Midwives are experts in what is normal in birth, and our job is to recognize when things are not in the range of normal and act from there. As long as you and baby are doing well through pregnancy and birth, there is no reason for us to do anything. We have seen that when we give you ample time and support that the process will work the majority of the time.
2. We believe in your ability to birth your baby.We have seen women do incredible things. We have seen their strength displayed time and time again. This knowledge gives us an unquestionable belief in your power. We know that whatever course your birth takes, you will display a depth of strength you never knew you had.
3.We care about the emotional aspects of your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, not just the physical.
There is much more to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum than vital signs. Who you are and how you feel is incredibly important to us. We know that the emotional state you are in will affect your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. Our appointments with you reflect this belief as we offer long appointments so we can discuss your wishes, your life, your struggles, and your fears. We are close by throughout your labor to support you. We see you often in your postpartum period and make sure you are supported, coping with changes, and are feeling well emotionally.
4. We believe a relationship with you makes your birth safer and more comfortable.We work to make sure you feel comfortable and safe with us. We understand that having a strong sense of trust allows you to let go and labor more freely. Women do not tend to labor well when they are on guard. They labor well when they feel safe and supported.
5.We support your informed choices.Your body, your baby, your birth. We are here to inform you, support you, and keep you safe. We do everything we can to make sure you know what your options are, to inform you of the risks and benefits of the options available, and then allow you to choose what you feel is best for you.
6. We want you to feel respected and empowered. Our first priority is to keep you safe, but we also want you to have a great birth. It’s important to us that you feel respected throughout your labor, that you feel informed, and that you feel empowered to make the choices that are right for you. We want you to know that giving birth was done by your power, not ours. Birth is something you do, not something that should happen to you. We find that when our mothers feel respected and empowered, they feel positively about their birth experience no matter what turns it may take.
This quote from the Tao Te Ching says it best: ‘You are a midwife, You are helping at someone else's birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must lead, lead so the woman is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the woman will rightly say,"We did it ourselves."
7. Our support doesn’t end at the birth.The Midwives Alliance of North America’s latest statistics say that 97% of women in the care of midwives are still breastfeeding at 6 weeks. We offer you support after your baby comes with caring for yourself, newborn care, and breastfeeding. If you go home and support is cut off 2-3 days postpartum, it is very hard to feel successful at these things. We are here to make sure you have resources and the support needed to have the best postpartum period possible.
8. We practice patience. A midwife’s motto is often “I sit on my hands.” We consciously choose not to act as long as all is well. We avoid the temptation to try to guide what’s happening if that is not needed. Labor can take time and when we are patient and allow the time needed, the body usually works things out. Pregnancy can take time too, so as long as you and baby are doing well, we don’t send you for induction before 42 weeks. When induction is out of the picture and we aren’t trying to rush the process, it usually goes much smoother.