Choosing the person who will handle prenatal care and deliver your baby is one of the first major decisions all new parents make—and there are a lot of options.
Some women feel most comfortable with the obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) they see for annual exams, and that’s great. Other women often will interview several doctors to find out who is the right fit.
If you’re interviewing OB-GYNs, you should interview midwives as well. Judy Giden, an LPN and office supervisor at Beacon Midwifery Centered Care, says every woman should at least consider a midwife.
Here are 5 reasons why.
Midwives can handle most types of delivery
One of the major misconceptions about midwives is that they only do at-home births, but that’s not true, Giden said.
Midwives are RNs who have gone through a midwifery program, and they have the skills and knowledge to handle at-home births and hospital births. Women who choose a midwife can be medicated or unmedicated during delivery. A midwife will discuss every option with expecting parents and help them make the decision that makes the most sense for them.
Moms who have previously had cesarean sections may start their care with a midwife and then eventually see an obstetrician for delivery, but midwives can’t perform C-sections themselves, Giden said. If a C-section is needed during delivery, the midwives at Beacon Midwifery Centered Care have a group of backup doctors who are always available in an emergency.
Midwives typically do not take on high-risk pregnancies, such as twins or triplets or moms with diabetes.
Midwives provide very hands-on care
Midwives tend to focus on building a relationship with the expecting mom. Midwives can spend more time with expecting parents during prenatal visits and throughout delivery than most OBs.
“We all try to get to know our patients and their families. We know them when they come in, we know their children’s names,” Giden said. “After they’ve delivered, we see them once or twice and they’re gone. It’s really a loss on both ends. We’ve had moms that have cried on their last visits. Many moms stop in and say hi and bring their babies.”
Midwives do a lot of educating about staying healthy during pregnancy, including eating right, quitting smoking if necessary and handling health issues that may arise throughout pregnancy.
During delivery, midwives tend to be in the birthing room throughout the labor process and not just when mom is ready to deliver.
Midwives offer different types of care for different moms
“We serve a variety of women, different ethnicities, backgrounds, incomes,” Giden said. “For our patients, we help them in any way that we can. We find resources, answer questions, anything that they need. We really try to help.”
For example, some moms benefit from group-based prenatal care, like Beacon’s Centering Pregnancy program. Groups of up to 10 moms who are due to deliver within about a month of each other take part in their visits together.
“We teach them how to do their own weight and blood pressure and we do belly checks. Then we go over a topic of each time. It’s the same amount of visits (as non-group prenatal care), but it tends to be a lot more fun,” Giden said. “It’s kind of like a support group for them.”
After everyone in the group has delivered, the group has a reunion to celebrate.
Any mom can take part in the program, including moms who may already have kids.
“Moms really enjoy the group so they keep healthier habits because they want to keep coming back to the group and finish out that care,” which helps prevent early deliveries, Giden said.
Expecting moms who take part in Centering Pregnancy can call their midwife throughout pregnancy and schedule extra, individual appointments if they need to, just like standard prenatal care.
Women who choose a midwife are less likely to have a C-section
About 28 to 35 percent of all babies are delivered by C-section every year. The C-section rate for women who choose midwives is 4 to 11 percent, Giden said.
The difference comes almost entirely from education, Giden said.
“It’s teaching them everything they need to know during their pregnancy, discussing things as they’re getting close to delivery,” she said. For example, a mom diagnosed with gestational diabetes can get more personalized attention for managing gestational diabetes and making sure their baby doesn’t gain too much weight before delivery.
No matter what, it’s important that all expecting parents find a prenatal care provider that fits their needs. That’s why Giden recommends that every expectant mom interview at least one midwife early in their pregnancy.
“Everyone truly benefits from a midwife and mostly it’s because of our real personal care with our patients,” she said.
Memorial Children’s Hospital is your resource for every question you have from pregnancy to childhood. Get your questions answered by visiting us at the B100 Baby and Family Fair on Feb. 4.