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Ok, that helps some, but what do you mean when you say "support"? I see that word a lot, but it doesn't really mean a lot by itself.
Ah, The Big Question!
What you’re going to get a lot is “it depends on the person.” That sounds like a cop-out answer, but it’s unfortunately very, very true. The best I can do is give you some examples of what my “support” has looked like:
- Making sure the baby’s father was supported so he could support his wife. I made sure they both had water at all times, got him food, suggested things he might try to help her out. I never actually touched the laboring mother, but I enabled her partner to be a stronger part of her team, because they both knew he’d be the best person for the job as long as someone could provide guidance if they ran out of ideas.
- Being the only constant, trained-in-birth presence through a nearly 50-hour labour. By the time the baby was born in the teaching hospital, the couple had been visited by six different nurses and eight different OBs. Most of them were very kind and supportive, but very few were there more than twice, and it got very confusing by the end.
- Providing direct, hands-on comfort like counterpressure, hip squeezes, guidance in rhythmic breathing and movement, help with showers and baths, catching vomit and cleaning up fluids, making sure blankets and towels were clean and dry, and so on during both unmedicated labours and labours where medication was delayed.
- Making sure there was a constant supply of drinking water, cold and warm cloths, and other things, so the primary partner didn’t have to be absent.
- Stepping in for the primary partner when they do have to be absent.
- Acting as a sounding board for worries, or just being the person you don’t have to feel bad about swearing at.
- "Holding the space," which means everything from monitoring room temperature, keeping the lights out of your eyes, helping you sleep, helping maintain focus on you and your labour instead of gadgets and machines, keeping calm during stressful moments, distracting you with stories, jokes, or a listening ear when you need it, to making sure you have a face to look at even if you’ve been told you have to lie on the side that faces away from everyone else to keep heart rates up or keep your epidural balanced.
- Helping you think about choices, including helping formulate questions, considering information, and helping facilitate conversations with your medical team—I don’t have them for you, but I might remind you of things you wanted to ask, or mention your birth plan if it seems like we may need to deviate from it, etc.
- Helping as much as possible to ensure that you feel any changes from your plan are your decision, with support from the people you need to support you, and not something that’s been taken from you.
- Intercepting phone calls and visitors to make sure you’re not interrupted at a time when you don’t want to be.
- Hanging out in the waiting room with your family and making sure your mom, who is very worried because she’s your mom, isn’t panicking about you so that you don’t have to worry about her on top of other things.
- Practical, hands-on help with breastfeeding, both at the birth and in the weeks that follow.
- Help with researching, thinking through, and writing birth plans.
That’s not all. Different locations and care providers and birth plans require different support from me. But it’s a good list of examples.
Lao Tzu (via midwifeinwaiting)
Happy International Day of the Midwife!
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:
- The American College of Nurses And Midwives (Education, Advocacy, Events, and Professional Resources)
- Find a Midwife in Your Area
- Massachusetts Midwives Alliance
- World Health Organization: Midwifery (General Information, Technical Information, Publications, and Multimedia)
- Our Moment of Truth: A New Understanding of Midwifery Care- A Midwifery Awareness Campaign (Read Stories/ Share yours/ Take the Pledge)
- Ina May Gaskin- Author, Activist, Midwife
- Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives- Documentary
- All My Babies: A Midwives Own Story- Documentary on ”Miss Mary” Coley an African-American midwife in rural Georgia.
Today, even where it is available, some employers may specifically exclude midwife care from their list of covered benefits; insurers may make little effort to include midwives in their networks, since they tend to focus on negotiations with large physician groups.
That is likely to change. The Affordable Care Act added birth centers and midwife care as mandatory Medicaid services, for example. Many health experts are recommending an expanded use of birthing centers as a cost-saving measure as well as in response to women’s demand."
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