National Midwifery Week (September 29 — October 5, 2019) was created by ACNM to celebrate and recognize midwives and midwife-led care.
Here at Babyscripts, we showed our support for these essential caregivers by running in DC’s Miles4Midwives. We also took some time to talk to our partner midwives about their jobs — and what they wish everyone knew about midwifery, starting with its history in the United States.
The way we go about prenatal care here in the US is sort of an anomaly, a midwife at George Washington Medical Faculty Associates explained to us. Internationally, midwifery care is the norm — typically, mothers seek OB care only when they are high-risk. But because of historical opposition from doctors and hospitals, midwifery has struggled to gain a foothold in the United States.
This mindset is starting to shift, however, as the climbing rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in the US are causing us to look to other countries for solutions. States that have taken a page from international practices and are actively integrating midwifery into their prenatal care routines demonstrate much better outcomes for mothers and babies than those with restrictive laws against midwifery, which tend to perform below the national average.
Part of the change in mindset comes with educating people about midwifery. We asked our midwives a few questions to learn more:
Q: Why might a patient seek care from a midwife instead of an OB physician?
A: Women who want hands-on support in labor and suggestions for non-pharmacological pain management often come to midwives for those things. Midwives work closely with doulas to provide these and spend a lot of time in prenatal visits talking about recommendations with our clients.
Q: What do you wish patients knew about midwifery care when making decisions about prenatal care?
A: I wish they knew that midwives are full-scope women’s health care providers — we don’t just come to your house to deliver your baby like on TV!
Q: Tell us about your teaching philosophy — what are some areas that your fellow OB practitioners might be aware of?
A: Sensitivity to an individual’s feelings is critical — and sometimes gets lost in an overly clinical approach. We’re very conscious of eliminating harmful language, like making sure pronouns in all education materials are gender-neutral or avoiding comments that might come off as body-shaming.
I would like to think that each birth that happens in a gentle way, with a mom who is supported in her labor and attended by someone who treats her and her baby with love and respect, moves the world a little more towards peace.
Q: Does technology have a role in the centering model of midwifery?
A: I’m all for technology that is used appropriately. Dating pregnancies and identifying complications is greatly improved by ultrasound imaging, for example. We trust women’s bodies, and support women’s intuitive knowledge by judicious use of technology.
Q: What is something you wish the public knew about midwifery?
A: If midwifery care was the standard of care for healthy, low-risk women in the US, our healthcare system would be more cost effective, and rates of preterm delivery and maternal morbidity and mortality would be lower. All we need is thousands more midwives, especially from communities of color.
Q: Favorite tips for pregnant moms?
A: Ginger tea! It’s great for calming the stomach, helps with fluid intake, and simple to make at home. Just add some ginger root, lemon balm, and mint leaves to a tea infuser and steep in hot water for a few minutes.