Midwives provide personalized care for healthy women and families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Midwives encourage women to be the primary decision-maker in their pregnancy and birth choices, and providing flexible and responsive care. Many midwives work to avoid unnecessary tests and treatments; and women under the care of midwives typically are less likely to have a cesarean, an episiotomy, and other interventions than women receiving care from doctors. Midwives provide continuous support throughout labor and birth, which has many benefits for women, infants, and families and no known risks.
In 2008 8% of all births were attended by midwives, and <1% of births were attended in an out-of-hospital setting. Nearly 43,000 babies were born either at home or in a free standing birth center. See the National Vital Statistics Report from the CDC for more information. The demand for home birth in the US is increasing annually, and the LA Times reported that number of home births has increased 20% in the years between 2004 and 2008.
Midwives ascribe to the Midwives Model of Care™, which is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events. It includes:
- 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 and;
- identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention
The application of this model has been proven to reduce to incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.
The Midwives Model of Care definition above is Copyright © 1996-2001, Midwifery Task Force, All Rights Reserved.
Article on home birth in the UK, published in Midwifery Today
Legal status of midwifery in the US, by state, published by Citizens for Midwifery
“The Business of Being Born,” video produced by Ricki Lake. Watch in on Netflix instantly.