Why Choose a Midwife? What is a Midwife?

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Midwives know pregnancy, labor, and birth. While they view pregnancy and birth as normal functions, not medical problems, they are in fact licensed "medical" professionals in the state of Washington and part of the health care system.

Midwives' education covers anatomy, physiology, genetics, nutrition, etc.  Most importantly, they are trained in, and experts of, normal labor and birth. They are not mini-obstetricians, nor are they maxi-nurses. They are uniquely trained providers of prenatal care throughout pregnancy, care through labor, birth, and the weeks following birth and all that entails, including breastfeeding and newborn health and care. Midwives who are not only licensed in Washington state, but are also CPMs, or Certified Professional Midwives, are specifically required to be trained in normal birth outside of a hospital setting. 

Choosing to see a licensed/Certified Professional Midwife for your prenatal care allows you to have access to any and all of the customary tests and procedures applicable to pregnancy, while having the opportunity to discuss all the options and make an informed choice about what is right for you. 

A natural, comfortable and home-like birth was very important to my partner and I. We chose Center for Birth Midwives because of the connection we had after our first consultation, with Tina. We benefitted from the midwives’ knowledge, consideration, and compassion. They both brought amazing energy to our whole experience. Tina and Wendy complement one another really well. We had an amazing birth experience, thanks to them!
— Elise vanWestrienen
 

The fact is, most pregnant people fall under the category of "normal" and "low-risk" pregnancy, and for those people, choosing midwifery care and a birth center birth affords them the greatest chance of having a normal, uncomplicated birth and reduces the risk that they will undergo of a cesarean section, even if they have to transfer their care to the hospital during labor.

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The Midwives Model of Care includes:

  • Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • Minimizing technological interventions
  • Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention

The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section. ~ Copyright (c) 1996-2008, Midwifery Task Force, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Continuous Support from Your Midwife

During labor, midwives stay with their client throughout the process. Over the course of the pregnancy, families have had the opportunity to get to know their midwives during their long prenatal visits. 

Feeling comfortable and safe with your care provider can keep anxiety low, a good thing during labor. Anxiety and fear can interfere with the progress of labor, and can increase the perception of pain. 

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The vanWestrienen's at their final visit with baby #1! Baby #2 was born in 2017.

The vanWestrienen's at their final visit with baby #1! Baby #2 was born in 2017.

 

More Care Following the Birth

After the birth, families benefit from  frequent contact with their midwife. The usual "postpartum" care in the U.S. consists of appointments at the pediatrician's office a day or two after leaving the hospital, and a single visit with the doctor six weeks after the birth. 

Midwives provide much more support after birth. Center for Birth Midwives, for example, visits their families at home the day after the birth, then again on day three, and then sees them in the office at one-and-a half weeks, three weeks, and finally at six weeks after the birth. 

Midwives in Washington State also provide care to healthy newborns. This means families don't have  to take their newborn to a pediatrician's office in those first weeks unless it is medically indicated. 

 
The State of Washington's Department of Health licenses midwives. Click here for the State's description of the qualifications of a licensed midwife.