In Australia, all babies are born with the help of a midwife. This is true whether you’re giving birth in hospital, birth centre, at home or in an operating theatre. The question is really – what are the benefits to having a midwife as your primary care provider?
So, what is a primary care provider?
A primary care provider is someone who is responsible for your pregnancy and birth care. They may also been seen as the coordinator of your care or “go-to” person. It may either be a doctor or a midwife. Your primary care provider should know all about you and your pregnancy, attend your birth and know all about your baby. Without a primary care provider, your care will be fragmented and it’s entirely possible that some important aspects of your care will be overlooked or forgotten.
Primary medical care is provided by private obstetricians or through doctor’s clinics in public hospitals.
What are the benefits of having a midwife as your primary care provider?
Midwives have a firm belief in pregnancy and birth as natural processes that women can do. In other words, they believe that a woman’s body is perfectly designed for pregnancy and birth. They look for what’s right in the pregnancy and birth, while always being mindful of risks. Midwives help to keep pregnancy and birth normal by focussing on nutrition, lifestyle, health and well being. We that with health in general, healthy people are less likely to get heart disease, diabetes and so on. Well, it’s the same in pregnancy and birth: healthy women and babies are less likely to get sick. So midwives focus on health and well being, while always being alert for situations that need more attention.
Midwives use a holistic, or biopsychosocial model of care. What this means is that you’re not just a pregnancy or a birth to a midwife. You’re a woman, mother, friend, wife, partner, employer / employee and so on. Your midwife will seek information about your life, your family, your interests and so on, as well as your health and medical history. She will take all of this information into account when making recommendations and giving advice.
Midwives are less likely to use disruptive technologies that may lead to further intervention and complications. They’re less likely to induce labour, perform an episiotomy, perform vaginal examinations, break your waters and so on. So your labour is allowed to progress naturally. When you work with your body, it will work with you. When you interfere with your bodily processes, your body will not work as well. This is especially the case in birth where there’s a strong reliance on hormones to initiate labour and keep it going.
Women are usually very satisfied with midwifery care. They feel supported, emotionally, from seeing a midwife. They feel they can trust their midwife and that their wishes are respected. Women feel more comfortable to write a birth plan and discuss their hopes and preferences for their pregnancy and labour when they see a midwife.
So, what does this mean for birth and babies?
Well, there are lots of positives! When you have a midwife as your primary care provider, you can expect:
- choice of birth place (hospital or home)
- a lower rate of caesarean
- a lower rate of episiotomy
- you’re less likely to be induced
- you’re less likely to need pain medication in labour
- you’re less likely to have your waters broken
- you will be listened to and respected
- your birth plan will be respected
- you will be able to build trust with the midwife who will help you in birth
- you will be less likely to have an assisted birth (eg forceps)
- you will have a lower chance of getting postnatal depression
- you will be less likely to have a traumatic birth
- you will be more likely to bond well with your baby
- your baby will be more likely to breastfeed successfully
- you will most likely view your labour as being very positive
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