by Anne Sommers and Abbi Perets
A midwife is a woman who assists other women in childbirth. The word is Old English: “mid” means “with"; “wife” means “woman.” The relationship between a midwife and a woman she treats is, by definition, an intimate one.
If you choose midwifery care, you will never think of your OB/GYN in the same way again. When was the last time you spent more than 15 minutes with your doctor? When was the last time your OB/GYN made a house call and waited patiently while your two-year-old “hadda go potty”? How often does your doctor call you just to make sure you’re feeling all right? Midwives do these things on a regular basis – it’s part of their philosophy of care.
A midwife doesn’t concern herself only with your physical health. Rather, she treats the whole person: She nurtures your spiritual side while providing expert care for you and your baby before, during, and after birth. The Midwifery Model of Care refers to the core belief that pregnancy and birth are normal life events. Midwives are trained to perform prenatal, postpartum, and well-patient care to women of childbearing age, to attend births, and to provide newborn care. They are knowledgeable in the areas of nutrition, pregnancy, labor, and delivery (including how to handle complications), and how to screen high-risk women for further care needs. This woman-centered model has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.
Contrary to what many people believe, midwives also can order lab work, ultrasounds, and other pregnancy-related medical tests. Midwives are trained to handle labor and birth emergencies such as hemorrhage (excessive bleeding), and they are skilled in neo-natal (newborn) and adult resuscitation as well as intravenous therapy.