What is a Midwife?
the very beginning women have helped one another give birth. It is the
midwife, not the physician, who has attended birth for most of human
existence. In modern-day cultures of countries such as Denmark, Holland,
and Sweden, midwife-assisted birth remains the norm. In fact, the countries
with the lowest perinatal mortality rates in the world all make generous
use of midwives, who attend 70 percent of all births. In the United
States, where midwives assist only 5 percent of births due to political
constraints, perinatal mortality is alarmingly high. Did you know? The
United States is the only country in the world where having a baby is
considered to be a medical problem. According to census records, there
are 42 other countries where it is safer to have a baby. Every
single country in the European region with perinatal and infant mortality
rates lower than the U.S. uses midwives as the principal and
only birth attendant for at least 70% of all births. - WHO Only
3.4% of births in the U.S. are attended by midwives.
A midwife is a person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery educational program, duly recognized in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery. "
has an important task in health counseling and education, not only for
the women, but also within the family and the community. The work should
involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and extends
to certain areas of gynecology, family planning and child care.
Considering the troubled past of midwifery and challenging present of midwifery, we can hardly help but pose the question: What makes midwifery such a deeply desired birthing option? Simply put, midwifery promotes well-being. It is an art of service, in that the midwife recognizes, responds to, and cooperates with nature. Above all, true midwifery care is personalized care. Despite parameters of safety the midwife must uphold, she knows what is normal and easily recognizes any behavior that deviates from normal. Her task is to decipher the unique and ever-changing patterns of her clients well-being. The more thorough and continuous her care, the more likely she is to detect a complication at its inception. She and her client are a team, but responsibility rests with the expectant mother, who is at the helm of her healthcare experience.
Every birth has potential for complications, but with continuity of care, the midwifes competence in handling these is facilitated both by foreknowledge of the mothers condition and by the mothers trust in her abilities.
The essence of midwifery is staying in the moment, being humble, and paying attention. Standardized, fear-based care has never appealed to women. What we really want is competent, sensitive attention to our entire condition. No wonder most women who choose care with a midwife also choose to give birth at home. They instinctively seek the comfort, privacy, and opportunity for family participation found in their own environment, as well as the decreased likelihood of interventions. Research has repeatedly shown that the more relaxed and at ease a laboring womn feels, the more efficiently her body will function. If she becomes stressed or frightened, she will release hormones (catecholamines) which inhibit cervical dilation. In fact, research shows that whenever a birthing mammal is moved, threatened, denied privacy, or otherwise disturbed in labor, an arrest of progress will occur. The midwifes most basic responsibility to her clients is to do everything she can to promote their relaxation and peace of mind. Her hands are her most precious tools. She is infinitely patient - she waits, and waits, and waits some more. Yet she is ever attentive to the mothers condition, the babys needs. Quietly aware, she serves as a mirror, and offers suggestions in timely fashion. She continually strives to reserve judgement, but is willing to speak the truth as the need arises. Above all else, she keeps the following in mind: Its not my birth. But, simply put, miracles happen in childbirth.
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