As we dive head first into another holiday season, I am thankful for the birth professionals that I work with through the advocacy work we do at Texas Birth Networks, and those who have been a part of my own birth experiences.
Here are ten of my favorite reasons to be thankful for midwives this November.
10. The best choice for low risk birth
Recent studies in the United States and abroad have shown that low risk mothers choosing midwifery care have a lower risk of c-section and fewer interventions like episiotomy and pitocin for labor augmentation.
For women using a midwife through out pregnancy, studies show a lower risk of pre-term birth and miscarriage.
9. There’s no hurry here
Except in circumstances where it becomes medically necessary to induce or augment labor, midwives are never in a hurry. They aren’t in a hurry for labor to begin, or for it to be over. They know that women are not all the same and assess the baby and mother based on evidence based criteria, not a number on the clock, or a date on the calendar.
8. Adaptable and creative in a crunch
On hands and knees, in a squat, in the shower, or in your back yard, your midwife has learned to support you in more ways than a Dr. Seuss book. She will adapt to help and guide you through a variety of positions, often at the risk of her own personal comfort (pro tip: midwives love gift certificates for massage).
7. Eating and drinking in labor
Both midwives and moms who choose midwifery care know that eating and drinking through out your labor helps fuel your body for the marathon. The medical community is catching up to this (obvious) idea, with research showing that a light meal in labor is a good thing for most women.
No top ten list about midwives can be complete without at least a mention of oxytocin, the love hormone that helps to open your cervix and paves the way for maternal bonding . While this amazing hormone isn’t something that a midwife creates, she does understand exactly what things can help oxytocin to thrive, and what oxytocin-killers during your birth may threaten your good time. Midwives are oxytocin guardians in labor land.
5. You decide who to invite to your birth
Birthing with midwives (specifically those practicing out of hospital) means that you can choose who you want at your birth. You can invite a house full of guests, or keep it very bare bones, with just your midwifery team. Your dog can come. Your kids can come. You decide who should be there for your most amazing day.
4. No unsolicited pokes and prods
Midwives are masters at assessing a situation with very little impact on the laboring mother and judging if everything is proceeding normally. Minimal intervention never means without supervision. It means that the midwife will use good judgement and clear communication and ask permission to get in your grill – not just poking around for the sake of poking around.
3. Your birth can be as unique as you
Midwives check their beliefs and preferences at the door. They are focused on your physical, mental and emotional well being as a laboring mother, not on the fact that you are singing big band karaoke tracks or twerking through each contraction. You can choose the sights, sounds and scents of your birthing environment.
2. Your midwife is your advisor, and you are the decision maker
Everything in life is risk, and almost every decision has the potential for consequence. Midwives believe that evidence based decision making and true informed consent are the foundation of a relationship of mutual respect between provider and client. They contribute their expert opinion, but treat mom and her partner as the ultimate experts in what is best for their family.
1. Discovering who you are as a woman and a parent through midwifery care changes your life
When you choose a midwife, you are taking one of the first steps towards being an informed, mindful parent. You are making a tangible commitment to your baby that you take responsibility for the decisions you make that impact his or her life, not just following along with what someone else says to do. Making decisions about where to birth, who should be present, what newborn procedures are right for your circumstances, what you want and need in the postpartum period, are all choices that help shape motherhood.
Midwives offer an amazing blend of professional medical care and intuitive grace that set the stage for this miraculous occurrence, no matter how many children you have had; the birth of a mother.
Guest Post by Shannon Blackwell
Shannon is the Board President of Texas Birth Networks, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization advocating and supporting evidence-based maternity care in the state of Texas, and has assisted over 400 nonprofits and small businesses in developing their marketing and communications strategies. She has served on both nonprofit and corporate boards and loves working with volunteer organizations to change the world. Shannon is married with three children, born in hospital, birth center, and at home.