Midwives May Be The Key To Healthier Births and Babies

midwives, midwife care, healthy birth, birth interventions, birth complications, overweight pregnancy, healthy pregnancy

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An interesting article about midwives in The Wall Street Journal, shines a light on some compelling reasons why you might want to choose a midwife over a traditional doctor. The article states, “After nearly a century of progress, deliveries are now getting more dangerous rather than less so. The number of women who go into shock during childbirth has more than doubled in the past decade, and those who suffer kidney failure rose 97%. Globally, we are tied with Belarus in maternal mortality.” The article suggests that midwives may be the solution to the growing birth crisis, noting that we should remember the success story of midwives back in the 1920s. Americans had been treating birth as a medical event for years, but then Mary Breckinridge founded the Frontier Nursing Service in rural Appalachia, and healthy birth rates drastically improved in the area served by Breckinridges’ midwives in just 10 years time.

The WSJ article also notes that in recent years midwife led births have taken a backseat to doctor led births, which has likely resulted in higher rates of birth interventions and a much more medically inclined maternity care process overall in America. The WSJ article suggests that midwifery care vs. current American-style obstetrics could go a long way when it comes to normalizing the birth process yet again. The points above have great merit, but the changing face of health care in America, not simply care providers, also plays a significant role when it comes to maternity care and birth experiences.

midwives, midwife care, healthy birth, birth interventions, birth complications, overweight pregnancy, healthy pregnancy

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Birth Interventions Have Increased

There’s no doubt that labor and birth interventions and complications have increased in recent years.  In 1970, about 5% of American babies were born via c-section. Today the national c-section rate has held steady at 33% since 2009. In 1985, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that the ideal cesarean rate was around just 15%, a figure they’ve since withdrawn but they do still note that, “Both very low and very high rates of cesarean section can be dangerous.” A recent study by Harris Interactive and the Maternity Center Association shows that technology-intensive labor is now the norm rather than the exception — and the study revealed that a majority of women reported having had the following interventions while giving birth: “electronic fetal monitoring (93%), intravenous drip (86%), epidural analgesia (63%), artificial rupture of membranes surrounding the baby (55%), bladder catheter for drainage of urine (52%), and stitching to repair an episiotomy or tear (52%).” On top of this, about half the women in the above study noted that their caregiver tried to induce labor, most commonly through the use of drugs not natural methods. These are extremely high birth intervention rates, but they may not all be the fault of doctors vs. midwives.

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2 Responses to “Midwives May Be The Key To Healthier Births and Babies”

  1. Aurelas says:

    One thing that I have learned the hard way is that insurance may choose not to cover a birth if a midwife is the one in charge. Ours wouldn’t and we ended up deep in debt. I also learned that some midwives also induce labour with drugs, and may not tell you this until they have already given you the shot! Just be very careful when choosing a midwife. Make sure they are willing to talk to you about what will happen step by step when labour begins, and what they are able to do if there is an emergency. If they won’t answer your questions or are very vague, you probably need to go somewhere else. I thought everything was going to be just peachy but ended up with a stuck baby and a midwife who had no answer but to keep giving pitosin and then to do two episiotomies without any kind of anaesthesia. She also was big on shoving both hands and arms inside my body, which, especially after all those cuts were made, was excruciating. My baby and I both nearly died. I am still haunted by what I had expected to be a wonderful life experience. I am still an advocate of all natural childbirth, but warn you to make sure you know exactly what methods your midwife will use. Learn from my fail!

  2. Jennifer Chait says:

    The insurance point is a good one. It can be hard to have your birth covered by midwife care – though it is getting better. Many hospitals and birth centers are covered and offer nurse midwives.

    As for the care you got, it sounds like this is an issue of the care provider, not the fact that she was a midwife. Although statistics do show that you’re more likely to get quality care with a midwife, of course that’s not true 100%.

    No matter if you have a midwife, a doctor or some other care provider, you need to ask your provider questions before hand so you know their stance on interventions, meds, labor care and so on. Some midwives are great when it comes to natural birth as are some doctors, but it’s not across the board for either provider. It really comes down to the individual provider and their stance on labor and birth.

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