International Day of the Midwife

It is International Day of the Midwife so I would like to take a moment to send my appreciation to all the midwives out there who are working tirelessly to normalize birth.  I love midwives. I loved giving birth with midwives and I love working with midwives as a doula.  When I first chose to give birth at a freestanding birth center, I don't think I had a whole lot of expectations about what midwifery care would look like, I just knew I wanted a natural, non-hospital birth.  But I soon realized the care I received there (and this was a big, busy birth center) was different than any doctor's office I had been at. My care was so personal and individualized. I was always given options and expected to take the lead in my decisions.  There was never a sense of "well this is just the way we do things."  I got to know each of the midwives and they got to know me, and after my last postpartum visit, I began to miss my time there (Who ever misses going to the doctor?) And at my births, I felt wonderfully supported, encouraged, and lovingly cared for.  It is because of their care that I eventually chose to become a doula, and perhaps one day, I'll journey down the midwifery path myself.

I think this chart about the midwifery model of care sums it up well.

 

 

 

The Midwife Model of Care

Definition of Birth

  • Birth is a social event, a normal part of a woman's life.
  • Birth is the work of the woman and her family.
  • The woman is a person experiencing a life-transforming event.

Birthing Environment

  • Home or other familiar surroundings.
  • Informal system of care.

Philosophy and Practice

  • See birth as a holistic process.
  • Shared decision-making between caregivers and birthing woman.
  • No class distinction between birthing women and caregivers.
  • Equal relationship.
  • Information shared with an attitude of personal caring.
  • Longer, more in-depth prenatal visits.
  • Often strong emotional support.
  • Familiar language and imagery used.
  • Awareness of spiritual significance of birth.
  • Believes in integrity of birth, uses technology if appropriate and proven.

If you have a low-risk pregnancy, consider choosing midwifery care for your pregnancy and birth, whether you choose a hospital or out-of-hospital birth.

 Samantha, the midwife who caught my firstborn

Samantha, the midwife who caught my firstborn

The Medical Model of Care

Definition of Birth

  • Childbirth is a potentially pathological process.
  • Birth is the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and other experts.
  • The woman is a patient.

Birthing Environment

  • Hospital, unfamiliar territory to the woman.
  • Bureaucratic, hierarchical system of care.

Philosophy and Practice

  • Trained to focus on the medical aspects of birth.
  • "Professional" care that is authoritarian.
  • Often a class distinction between obstetrician and patients.
  • Dominant-subordinate relationship.
  • Information about health, disease and degree of risk not shared with the patient adequately.
  • Brief, depersonalized care.
  • Little emotional support.
  • Use of medical language.
  • Spiritual aspects of birth are ignored or treated as embarrassing.
  • Values technology, often without proof that it improves birth outcome.