Midwives are primarily known for their expertise and historical position as providers for families during pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and the immediate postpartum. Midwives are trusted all over the world as caregivers for the tender, joyful, and occasionally complicated times of conception, birth, and postpartum.
We monitor healthy pregnancies, treat for complications, help facilitate healthy births and empower confident, capable new parents, babies, and families. If at any point during the course of care a mother or baby develops complications that could benefit from specialized medical attention, midwives can help facilitate this consultation and care. Our care lasts from conception to about 6 weeks postpartum.
Midwives have also historically done so much more. We are trusted in helping families and individuals understand sexuality, fertility and conception and bring in a pregnancy when they desire to. We help individuals and families understand their full range of options when they decide they can no longer carry a pregnancy for whatever reason. We manage miscarriage and stillbirth. We manage complications after birth for parents and baby. We touch the heart and soul of those engaged in care, and with compassion, deep awareness and understanding, witness the most profound moments of people’s lives and interactions with their own bodily power.
Midwifery care is an ancient tradition in almost every society in the world. It is at once a science and an art. Our care is just as much founded in an understanding of physiology and the range of normal as it is in counseling, celebration, ritual, and honoring profound fertility experiences. Midwifery care encourages individuals and families to get in touch with their intuitive knowing of how to grow and care for their bodies and babies, alongside trained and skilled professionals invested in the health and wellbeing of all involved every step of the way.
When working with a midwife, families are expected to be active decision-makers in their own care. Informed choice is a major tenant of midwifery care and is emphasized every step of the way. Evidence is presented for a decision making process before any intervention or recommendation, allowing families to read present and past research, relevant information, risks, benefits, side effects, and the option of doing nothing. Full consent and choice is sought before ever touching an individual, accessing their medical records, or sharing any information with any other professionals.
Regulation of midwifery as a structured and certified profession is a new development in history, and one which has brought benefits and challenges to both midwives and families. One of its biggest challenges is in upholding and reminding the individuals and families in our care that the power in a midwifery relationship always lies centrally and profoundly in the hands of the clients, not the midwives or the midwife’s regulating body. Midwifery at its core is about building healthy individuals and families, who are the caretakers of their own healthcare, with our assistance.
In North America, the major midwifery regulating bodies and organizations I work under include: