The rebirth of midwifery
Updated: April 22, 2013 9:53AM
The birth of a child is a joyous occasion that takes several months of careful organization, nine months to be exact. During this time, many families come up with a birthing plan that is personalized to their needs, traditions, and wellbeing.
The term midwife has been around since ancient times. In fact, midwives have been referenced in the Old Testament and even on papyrus scrolls found in ancient Egypt. In today’s modern society, midwives are experiencing a rebirth as women are taking more control of their health care and demanding more personalized, welcoming environment that fosters safety, compassion and respect.
“A patient’s birthing experience is very personal, long before a patient delivers they have imagined what that moment will be like,” said Roma Allen, Director of Women and Children Services at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital. “The midwife philosophy of holistic care is aligned with Elmhurst Memorial Hospital’s Planetree philosophy and allows women to utilize midwifery services within the safety of a hospital environment.”
Midwives are advanced practice nurses who are nationally certified and licensed by their state. Midwives support women’s choices, cultural preferences and unique needs and work with mutual understanding and respect to deliver the care all women deserve. Their care extends beyond medical assistance and supports the patient in having a natural, personalized experience with alternative comfort measures such as hydrotherapy, warm water immersion for labor and birth.
Often thought of as women that assist only in the care during a low-risk pregnancy and childbirth, midwives also help care for newborns and assist mothers with breastfeeding. They attend births in hospital settings and continue to stay with patients during medical pain management or during labor complications, should they occur. Even lesser known is that midwives don’t just deliver babies, but are experts in women’s health and care at all stages of a woman’s life.
In fact, many midwives offer a variety of services to women including:
• Annual exams, such as Pap smear, HPV testing, or infection testing and treatment
• Breast examination and mammography referral
• Preconception counseling and pregnancy planning
• Comprehensive prenatal care
• Testing, ultrasound and childbirth preparation, including alternative medicine options and referral
• Continuous support for women during active labor
• Breastfeeding support
• Family planning
• Menopausal care
Not all women are appropriate candidates for care by a midwife based on their risk factors. For example, women that have a pre-existing heart conditions, are diabetic or are prone to seizures would not be a good candidate for midwifery services. Above all things, the health of the mother and baby are of the utmost importance. In the event complications arise, midwives will work with obstetrician/gynecologists and medical staff to ensure that both mother and baby are safe and healthy throughout the entire process. ~.
Shauna Schuda wrote this column for Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare.