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When you find out you’re pregnant you are faced with many choices. One of those choices is whether to have a physician or midwife care for you during your pregnancy and birth. Depending on where you live, you might think that only physicians care for women in pregnancy but, midwives are a safe choice for most women.
Jade Elliott sits down with certified nurse midwife, Emily Hart Hayes from Intermountain Healthcare , on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast to discuss the philosophy of midwifery, what to look for and when you are considering who to care for you and your baby during pregnancy and birth.
In the U.S., certified nurse midwives and certified midwives attend 8 percent of births and the rate is about 12 percent if you look at just vaginal births. In Utah, midwives attend about 10 percent of births.
The advantages of seeing a midwife
Typically, midwives allow more time during prenatal visits and can also provide additional support during labor and birth. Midwives provide the same prenatal screening tests physicians do, including lab tests, ultrasounds, blood pressure checks, and monitoring for complications. Midwives generally have the philosophy to use interventions judiciously. For example, they may not break your bag of waters to speed up the birth process as long as labor is progressing normally.
Midwives offer continuous labor support and that has been shown to decrease the chance of Caesarean section. Midwives will typically intervene as needed. They can prescribe medications and use medications to induce labor. They care for women who are laboring with or without epidural anesthesia for pain relief, and they may recommend a c-section be performed. Midwives generally don’t do a routine episiotomy or order a routine hydration IV, although an IV may routinely be placed for emergencies. They allow moms to eat and drink during normal labor if they desire.
Midwives provide general women’s care and can manage some complications during pregnancy
Midwives may care for you if you have health problem that arises before or during your pregnancy, whether independently or jointly with an OB/Gyn or maternal fetal medicine specialist. They care for women with gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced high blood pressure, depending on the setting, and they can attend births for women who have had a previous Cesarean birth.
There are even midwives who work collaboratively with physicians who jointly care for women with high risk chronic conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, or autoimmune diseases.
Midwives aren’t just for pregnancy and birth. You can also see a midwife for general women’s primary care and gynecological issues such as pap smears, annual exams, birth control and family planning, immunizations including the HPV vaccine, and breast exams. Midwives care for women throughout the lifespan, from puberty to menopause and beyond. And yes, there are some male midwives.
To learn more about midwives or to find one in your area, click here.
The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.