“They didn’t have access to doctors or nurses,” that was one of the startling things my mother shared when I asked how my grandmother, born in 1927 in the rural county of Montgomery, Alabama, came into the world — with the help of a midwife. Midwives in 1927 looked a lot different than they do now. They were usually someone families knew who attended births or delivered babies but didn’t receive formal medical training. Seventy-seven years later, her grandchild will give birth to her great-grandchild in a teaching hospital surrounded by nurses, doctors and medical students. But this might not be the right option for everyone, and calling the midwife may be a better solution for some moms.
Having the baby your way
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to having a baby, yet over the years, many women have given birth in the same way, on their back, and for some, this can put more strain on mom and baby than intended. Looking back at my birthing experience, where my birthing contractions were in my lower back, I may have decided to hold off on receiving pain medicine if I had the option to change my birthing position. If positions like sitting on a birthing ball, using a birthing tub or positioning myself on all fours (downward dog) were presented I may have made different decisions. Having a midwife in the room could have helped with that.
Having this one-stop-shop approach to health care can help many women who can’t take time off work for multiple medical appointments.
Reducing mortality rates
Midwives — trained health care professionals who help women with labor and delivery—also provide other gynecological and medical services, such as counseling, sexually transmitted infections treatments, family planning. Having this one-stop-shop approach to health care can help many women who can’t take time off work for multiple medical appointments; those who cannot find sitters for their other children; or for those who want to see one medical professional for all aspects of their care.
But can this type of care help improve health outcomes for moms? Data suggests yes. Women in the United States had the highest ratio of maternal deaths out of 10 other developed countries. Biases—like race, gender and weight—can also play a significant role in poor health outcomes for moms – some that may lead to maternal deaths. Midwives may help change this.
Women in the United States had the highest ratio of maternal deaths out of 10 other developed countries.
Advocating for your health
From the beginning of a pregnancy, to months after labor and delivery, midwives provide moms the support to navigate and advocate for their health care. With the help of a midwife, expectant moms can create birth plans for how they would like to have their babies, including contingencies on when other medical procedures—like a Cesarean section—are performed. They can help with plans about who can be in the room during delivery, and can advocate for pregnant moms to have a choice of birthing positions.
Knowing your rights to have a midwife
There are three types of midwives in Ohio: lay/traditional midwife, apprentice midwife, and certified professional midwife. Currently, certified nurse midwives are the only legally-enabled professional midwife type who can practice in Ohio and are eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. They also may be covered under private medical insurance, but that depends on the provider and insurance plan options.
Organizations, such as Birthing Beautiful Communities, are working to educate the community on the benefits of midwives—but they can’t do it alone.
Do I have to have a midwife?
While having a midwife can help many expecting families, it’s not mandatory, but being aware that midwives are an option should be. Organizations, such as Birthing Beautiful Communities, are working to educate the community on the benefits of midwives—but they can’t do it alone. Community Solutions is helping by providing research and policy analysis to everyone—legislators, advocates and medical professionals. Learn more about midwives by visiting https://www.communitysolutions.com/category/blog/maternal-mortality-and-morbidity/.
 Lane, Hope. What is a midwife? (2021, April 19) Accessed 6/3/2021. https://www.communitysolutions.com/what-is-a-midwife/.
 Takyi-Micah, Natasha. How midwives help outcomes for women and babies (2021, May 10). Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.communitysolutions.com/midwives-outcomes-women-babies/
 Anthes, Loren. How are midwives regulated in Ohio? (2021, April 26). Accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.communitysolutions.com/midwives-regulated-ohio/