Considering Home Birth? How a Midwife Helps

December 23, 2014

Before the advent of modern obstetrics, women around the globe gave birth to their children at home in the presence of a midwife and/or other experienced women. Birth was viewed as a perfectly healthy and natural life process, rather than a medical “condition” that must be monitored and controlled. Even today, many European countries provide home birthing units that arrive at the house and allow the mother to give birth at home, saving labor and delivery beds for high-risk pregnancies and more complicated births.

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5 Ways Your Midwife Facilitates the Home Birth Experience

Now, after several decades of hospital births being the norm, many in the birthing community are seeing that healthy mothers with low-risk pregnancies are just as likely – if not more likely – to experience the safe, natural labor and delivery they desire by staying at home with the assistance of a licensed midwife.

Here are some of the ways a midwife facilitates the home birth experience.

  1. Continual education and round-the-clock . Depending on where you live and your midwife’s practice, you will have monthly prenatal visits either at home or at her office. These visits are identical to the ones you would have with an OB/GYN. The only difference is that, if you want them, ultrasounds would be performed at your OB’s office. Most midwife visits take longer than a typical OB appointment. Your midwife will answer any questions you have and will educate you and prepare you month by month in regards to your pregnancy, labor and delivery. Your visits will increase in frequency, typically from week 36 onward.
  2. Financially. A home birth costs much less than a hospital birth. In many cases, health insurance companies will reimburse all or a portion of the total costs and most midwives offer flexible payment plans. However, financial concerns should never be the primary reason to give birth at home. A woman should be 100% committed to the idea of a midwife-assisted home birth – considering the financial aspect as a bonus rather than a major selling point.
  3. Supporting the health of mother and child. Midwives believe that labor and delivery are a natural, wonderful and sacred process and that the mother’s body knows best. Depending on the mother’s wishes, the midwife may only be there on the periphery, witnessing the process and providing assistance as needed. In other cases, she may have a very active role supporting the mother and/or the mother’s birth partner, making the laboring woman as comfortable as possible throughout the delivery.
  4. Preventing the use of unnecessary interventions. Modern hospitable births have increased the use of pharmaceuticals, epidurals, and surgical interventions that may not have the positive outcomes we once believed in. In fact, a recent landmark study, published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health found that when low-risk pregnant women have planned home births with a licensed midwife they experience notably lower interventions without any increase in adverse outcomes. Even if you decide a home birth is not for you, similar studies correlate that midwife- or doula-assisted labors in hospitals and birthing centers result in fewer interventions and a lower rate of adverse outcomes for mother and baby as well.
  5. Working in tandem with your OB. Midwives often work in complete co-operation with obstetricians. If a home birth or a midwife-assisted birth is important to you, seek out obstetricians who support your choices. This provides the opportunity to cultivate a relationship so you’ll be comfortable with your on-call doctor if your pregnancy becomes high-risk or you need to be transported to the hospital during your labor and delivery.