Midwives and Birth Centers Equal Healthier Mothers and Babies
In the United States, fewer than 10% of births are attended by midwives – in hospital, free-standing birth centers and at home combined. In Western Europe, 50-80% of babies are delivered into the hands of midwives, whether in hospital, free-standing birth centers or at home, and women and babies in these countries are healthier as a result. For example, in the United States, 32.8% of women – almost 1 in 3 – end up having a cesarean section for their birth, while in Western Europe, cesarean section rates range between 16 and 25%. In these countries, midwives are the primary maternity care providers and typically women only see an obstetrician if they are referred by a midwife.
While there are many wonderful obstetricians – and we are particularly lucky in New Hampshire, these physicians are trained to manage complicated health conditions and to perform surgery. Midwives are the maternity care providers who are trained to support and facilitate healthy, natural birth for healthy women and newborns. While all types of midwives in the U.S. can attend birth at home or in a free-standing birth center, Certified Professional Midwives are the group of credentialed midwives in our country who have specific training and expertise in community birth.
In our country, healthy women having their babies in birth centers or at home experience many fewer medical interventions than healthy women giving birth in the hospital.
- Cesarean Section: Studies show that women choosing midwives for birth center and home birth have a 6% chance of having a cesarean section while healthy women in hospital have a 27% chance of having a cesarean section. Remember, both of these groups of women being compared are healthy; healthy women in these studies are not being compared to women with health problems.
- Labor Medication and its Consequences: Today more than half of birthing women receive medication to start or speed up their labors, which can often result in additional interventions to manage the side effects of these medications.
- Fewer Complications with Birth Center Care: Women giving birth at home or in free-standing birth centers also experience many fewer epidurals, episiotomies, infections, and serious tearing and bleeding.
- Healthy Babies: Studies also demonstrate that babies of women choosing a birth center or home do equally as well as those born in hospitals, providing the woman is healthy and of low-risk health status at the time of the birth, and that the midwife is nationally certified and qualified. In other words, birth centers and home birth for healthy women and babies can be better for mothers and equally as good for babies as hospital birth.
New Hampshire Supports Midwives and Free-Standing Birth Centers
While in the U.S. we have a long way to go before every woman having a baby has a midwife available to her if she so chooses, New Hampshire and our surrounding communities are more fortunate than most as many of our hospitals do offer midwifery care. And New Hampshire is a state where free-standing birth centers and midwives providing community birth are supported and available to you. In Southern New Hampshire and Vermont and in Western Massachusetts, you can choose to be attended by a midwife at the Monadnock Birth Center throughout your prenatal care, your labor and birth and for the first several weeks after your baby is born.
Studies show that if you are planning for a birth where labor progresses naturally on its own, you should consider the care of a midwife. When labor progresses naturally on its own, there is less chance that your baby will have difficulties during labor or that you will need a cesarean section.
Approximately 80% of women are healthy when they become pregnant. The care of the midwives at the Monadnock Birth Center is designed to support you to stay healthy, to grow a healthy baby, and to avoid unnecessary medical interventions in your labor and birth. When labor is allowed to start on its own, your body releases hormones that help you labor effectively, cope with pain, and bond with your baby. These hormones also help your baby transition to life outside of the womb, maintain a normal body temperature, breastfeed successfully, and bond more effectively. This kind of birth is more likely to be safe and healthy and you are significantly less likely to need medical interventions.
Childbirth for Women and Families: What You Need to Know Today
Spend a moment and take a look at this important publication that describes how to make informed decisions and improve both your health and the health of your baby. Mary Lawlor, midwife and owner at the Monadnock Birth Center and executive director of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, was a lead participant in the midwife task force that developed this importance guidance on how to achieve a health birth.
It describes what normal heathy birth is and the influences that lead to healthy birth:
- Your overall good health and physical fitness
- Your knowledge and confidence about birth
- The chance to make informed decisions about your birth
- Access to providers and settings that support you and your goals
- It shows you what to watch out for that can disrupt normal, healthy birth:
- Medications to start or speed up labor
- Any environment that isn’t private or comfortable or where continuous support is not available
- Time limits on the progress of labor
- Restrictions on food or drink
- Pain medications, epidurals or anesthesia
- Early cutting of the baby’s umbilical cord
- Separation of you and your baby after birth
- Any situation where you feel threatened or unsupported
Call the Monadnock Birth Center today – (603)-352-5860) – to schedule a free tour and to talk with our midwives about the birth you want for yourself and your baby.