To many people, the term “midwife” conjures images of matronly maternity caregivers of a bygone era who assisted women in giving birth. That’s probably because midwifery was a common practice for centuries until the modern era.
Today, more than 90 percent of pregnant women choose an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) or other physician to deliver their babies. Nevertheless, there are many women who recognize midwives as highly trained professionals with the expertise and skills to support healthy pregnancies, optimal births, and postpartum recoveries, and prefer the type of care that a midwife has to offer.
What Does A Midwife Do?
The purpose of a midwife is to provide women with individualized care that is tailored to their mental, emotional, spiritual, cultural, as well as physical needs. Theirs is a woman-centered, empowering model of maternity care throughout and after pregnancy that includes:
- Primary care for expectant mothers
- Prenatal examinations
- Diagnosis and treatment for patients
- Providing references to specialists
- Collaborative work with physicians
- STD (sexually transmitted disease) testing and treatment for expectant parents
- Education and preparation for new parents
- Handling labor and delivery
- Caring for newborns during the first 28 days of life
- Postnatal examinations
- Prescribing medicine to patients
Although midwives are not doctors, they are licensed and certified to provide pre- and postnatal care to pregnant women. Also, they attend births and offer breastfeeding and nutritional support.
Typically, a midwife focuses on low-risk births for mothers who prefer to avoid surgical intervention, epidurals, and pain medications or drugs that induce labor. As such, they cannot perform caesarean sections. In the event of a complication, they will need an on-call doctor to perform the surgery. However, a midwife can prescribe epidurals and labor-inducing drugs, although they are less likely to do so than a doctor.
The Benefits of Having a Midwife
A midwife is a good choice for women with low-risk pregnancies and those who prefer to give birth at home or at a birthing center, or a birth without epidurals or labor-inducing drugs. They are also helpful in advising mothers on breastfeeding and offer lactation support before and after a baby’s arrival and emphasize healthy eating habits during and after pregnancy.
If your pregnancy is considered low-risk by your doctor and you are inclined toward natural childbirth, a midwife may be a viable choice for you. Note, however, that although a midwife can prescribe an epidural to relieve a painful delivery, they do not actually perform the procedure. You will only be able to receive an epidural when delivering in a place with an available anesthesiologist (such as a hospital), not at a birthing center or at home.
Talk with your health care provider before you decide whether a midwife is best for you and your baby.
Midwife in Sandwich, Illinois
At Aishling Obstetrics and Gynecology, we offer the finest, patient-centered obstetric care – and that includes the services of Leslie Oliver, our board-certified midwife. Leslie began her career as a cardiac nurse for 10 years, followed by another 10 years as a labor and delivery (L&D) nurse at Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, Illinois. She is committed to making the pregnancy and birthing experience as rewarding and memorable as possible for every patient.
At our practice, our board-certified physicians have the diagnostic tools and expertise to determine whether you have any pregnancy risk factors. They also have the experience and skills to help ensure that your pregnancy has a healthy outcome. To learn more, schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated and compassionate physicians by calling us at (815) 786-1088, or contact us through our website. For your added convenience, we have locations in Sandwich, Yorkville, Plainfield, and Aurora, IL, where our team will happily answer all your questions.