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5 Things to Know About Midwives and Maternal Health

pregnant woman's belly with fingers heart symbol; blog: 5 Things to Know About Midwives and Maternal Health

The benefits of midwifery care are numerous and far-reaching. Midwifery care is generally associated with lower rates of labor induction, decreased risk of cesarean, lower costs for clients and insurers, and increased satisfaction with the quality of care. One of the ways midwives improve outcomes is because they prioritize maternal health, which is related to the following advantages.

1. Midwives have Lower Rates of Maternal and Infant Mortality

The United States is home to advanced medical technology and physicians educated with the highest standards. However, not all people in the country have access to quality care. For all of the modern advancements in medicines, the pregnancy-related mortality rate in the US has been increasing for decades. 

Childbirth complications affect women of all races and ethnicities, but data shows that these issues disproportionately affect black women. According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the maternal mortality rate for black non-Hispanic women is over 3x higher than the maternal mortality rate for white non-Hispanic women. 

Midwives are known to decrease maternal and infant mortality. However, the American College of Nurse-Midwives reports that only 9.1% of US births were attended by midwives as of 2017. midwives improve outcomes and quality of care. According to the World Health Organization, if midwifery was universally prioritized, there could be an 82% reduction in maternal mortality. They recommend that midwifery should be a core part of universal health coverage.

2. Midwives Treat the Entire Woman, Not Just the Pregnancy

Midwives do not believe that pregnancy is a condition that needs to be treated. Instead, they view pregnancy and birth as natural processes. They treat the woman as a whole rather than a pregnancy. Midwives emphasize the power and strength of women in all stages of life and recognize how integral women’s health is to families and communities. This is especially true of certified nurse-midwives who follow the philosophy of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. They believe everyone has the right to:

Equitable, ethical, and accessible healthcare

  • Accurate and complete information to make informed decisions about care
  • Healthcare that promotes healing and health
  • Healthcare that respects human dignity, individuality, and diversity
  • Participation and self-determination in their own healthcare decisions
  • The opportunity for a woman’s chosen family members to participate in healthcare to whatever extent the woman desires.

Because of this philosophy, midwives raise the standard of care for the women they see. 

3. Midwives Can Improve Health Outcomes for Mothers and Babies

The American College of Nurse-Midwives started an initiative in 2012 that aims to increase women’s chances of having a healthy birth. It is called the Healthy Birth Initiative and it provides women with tools and resources they need to make decisions about their birth plans. It encourages spontaneous labor and birth rather than birth with unnecessary medical intervention.

According to the World Health Organization, midwifery is also associated with:

  • Reduced maternal morbidity
  • Reduced neonatal morbidity
  • Reduced interventions in labor
  • Improved social and economic outcomes
  • Increased birth spacing
  • Improved use of contraceptives

Midwives are also able to improve maternal health because they are able to provide comprehensive care that is effective and affordable. They can also be valuable in more rural communities where healthcare is less accessible.

4. Midwives Can Do More than Deliver Babies

Because certified nurse-midwives are also educated and certified as registered nurses, they can provide care beyond the scope of pregnancy and childbirth. CNMs are highly educated and trained in both midwifery and nursing. They must complete multiple educational requirements and pass a national certification examination. All that is to say, midwives can do much more than deliver babies. Again, the CNM philosophy prioritizes total health, so their care is comprehensive. CNMs provide services that include:

  • Primary care
    • Physical exams
    • Prescriptions
    • Diagnostic tests
    • Health promotion
    • Disease prevention
    • Wellness education and training
  • Gynecologic services
  • Family planning services
  • Preconception care
  • Pregnancy care
  • Childbirth
  • postpartum care for mother and child during the first 28 days of the baby’s life.

5. Midwives Include You in Decision Making

Part of the reason midwives benefit maternal health is that they take a collaborative approach to care. Not only do they collaborate with medical doctors when needed, but they view you as a partner in decision making. At City of Oaks Midwifery, our certified nurse-midwives will work with you to provide the best care possible for you. We prioritize maternal health during pregnancy care and childbirth.  call (919) 351-8253 to schedule an appointment.

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