A midwife is a health professional who works in reproductive health care and typically is associated with birth and pregnancy care. A midwife may have varying levels of medical training, but it is a common misconception that they are not fully trained health professionals. They may provide care through pregnancy, labor,birth, and post-partum situations. They can assist a birth at home, in a hospital, or at a birthing center depending on the needs of a pregnant person.
Midwives have been an important part of reproductive health care throughout history, and are even mentioned in the Old Testament. Today, more and more people are opting to give birth with a midwife instead of a doctor in hopes of more natural birthing practices.
Midwifery as a more general concept can be thought of as a model of care. The Massachusetts Midwives Alliance defines this model of care as consisting of the following:
- Monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
- Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
- Minimizing technological interventions
- Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention
There are many benefits of seeking care from a midwife instead of or alongside an obstetrician. According to the American College of Nurse Midwives, midwifery is associated with:
- Lower maternity care costs
- Reduced mortality and morbidity related to cesarean and other interventions
- Lower intervention rates
- Fewer recovery complications
If you are interested in becoming a midwife, there are several routes you might take, most of which require specific training and degrees. To learn more about the different kinds of midwives and training required to obtain the title click here.
Want to learn more? Try the following resources: