Midwives have been at the core of childbirth medical care for a very long time. A midwife is a health care professional that provides assistance to women during pregnancy, childbirth and for up to six weeks after the baby is born. Their role is to encourage a healthy pregnancy and provide the medical care and advice you need to have a natural birth.
Midwives are trained and authorised to provide medical care under their own authority, meaning that they only need to refer to doctors when necessary or there are complications in the pregnancy or birthing process. They often work in conjunction with an obstetrician to ensure that you have the care and support you need to give birth to a happy and healthy child.
While most people assume that midwives only provide care during the birth of the child, to be most effective it is recommended that a midwife is present before and after the pregnancy as well. This is called continuity of care and means that you will have someone present to give you advice when you need it and be aware of the details and peculiarities of your case, a role which is vital to the success of your pregnancy and labour.
Midwife care during pregnancy
Midwife care during pregnancy and before the birth is focused on monitoring the health of you and your baby and helping guide you in your physical health and psychological needs. A midwife’s role might include:
- Providing family planning and conception advice
- Conducting pre-birth scans and tests
- Monitoring your wellbeing and psychological state
- Providing advice about nutrition and exercise
- Educating you and your family on the birthing process and caring for your child
If your pregnancy is expected to be natural and without complications then a midwife might be the only support you need, however, if there are complications in the birth then they should be working closely with an obstetrician to provide the medical care necessary for you to have a successful delivery.
During labour a midwife will:
- Provide you with emotional and practical support through information and encouragement
- Monitor you and your child’s health
- Provide you with pain relief directly or facilitate access to it
- Act as a line of communication to doctors if necessary
After your baby is born your midwife will:
- Assist you with breastfeeding
- Educate you on how to take care of your newborn including bathing, settling and changing their nappies
- Provide you with pain relief and offer medical care if necessary
- Perform medical checks on you and your child to ensure the continued good health
Midwives work in a variety of settings from hospitals to birthing centres and obstetrician clinics. They are often able to visit you at home and play a key role in providing you with advice and care on an ongoing basis from conception to around 6 weeks after birth, meaning that if you don’t already have one you should contact a clinic today.