It is becoming more and more common for woman all around the world to go through labor with a midwife rather than a traditional hospital labor. Many opt to have the doctor present as well just to be safe, regardless of whether you have a doctor on site or not there are a few things that you may want to be aware of before going into labor.
Midwives tend to have a nurturing approach to the labor and delivery which many women find appealing and is a key factor in why they opt for this form of delivery. Studies have shown that births where a midwife is used tend to use fewer drugs than births without midwives. A patient attended by a midwife can still receive an epidural should they chose so an anesthesiologist will be called in to perform this procedure. A midwife is a nurse who has been trained and certified in midwifery, meaning that they will be able to provide you with excellent medical care throughout your entire pregnancy. It is important that you do choose a certified midwife, and preferably one who already has some experience to ensure that your labor goes smoothly.
Now the Limits
You do need to realize that not all deliveries can be done by a midwife. Although a midwife is certainly a fully trained professional who can help during the labor and natural delivery of a baby; there are some limitations to what they can do. A midwife for instance, cannot perform a C-section. If you have a high-risk pregnancy you may need to have a doctor deliver who can perform a C-section if need be. Midwives, though, can be very helpful during labor. They can induce labor using the same methods as an Ob/Gyn doctor. For example, they can also use synthetic oxytocin or prostaglandins to induce labor. In a birth that is done outside of the hospital, they may use acupuncture, acupressure and various herbs, to induce labor. One of the most important things that midwives are able to do is calming and reassuringly talk and encourage the mother through a difficult labor.
The function of a midwife is to support and help the woman as much as possible during labor. This also means that she should be able to monitor both your condition and the condition of the baby during the process of labor and delivery. They are trained in helping you to breathe and work through the contractions of your labor, meaning they will help with pain management as well. Also, they are able to tell you what position will be best for your labor. Their job then may be to help you to move into a different position to try to help the process along. Women who have given birth with a midwife have felt that the experience was very supportive. The midwife also gives support and reassurances to the father of the child and can coach the father on what to do and how to help during the process of labor. A midwife can certainly be used during a normal pregnancy where there are no complications and where you expect to be giving birth naturally.