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In a Heartbeat

Midwives continue to gain popularity

| Monday, May 22, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

The use of midwives in childbirth continues to gain popularity. We asked Nicole Rawson, a certified nurse midwife at Allegheny Health Network's Jefferson Hospital for insight into the benefits of using a midwife.

Why is midwifery growing in popularity as a birth option?

Women in 2017 are desiring, and demanding, more partnership in taking care of their health and raising their families.

As midwifery has grown as a profession, studies have consistently proven the safety and benefits of midwifery-led care. Hospitals and health care systems have recognized the value of the improved outcomes at lower cost that midwives can offer. As a result, more midwifery practices and birth centers are being incorporated into health care plans and delivery systems. Insurance now also covers midwifery services.

What are the advantages of midwifery?

Women respond to the close personal relationship that can form with their midwifery care providers. Today's families realize the health benefits of limiting interventions that do not have a clear medical need.

Studies have shown midwifery care results in decreased preterm labor rates, fewer cesarean deliveries, and increased rates of breastfeeding - all while promoting the holistic care of the infant and mother.

Midwifery views pregnancy and childbirth as a natural occurrence in a woman's life. We partner with women and their families to empower them to have the information and support they need to make their own health care decisions. We believe in the normal while remaining vigilant in case of any unexpected occurrences or complications.

Just recently, in January of 2017, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology embraced what midwives have always been promoting: limited interventions for low risk women, continuous support in labor, use of non-pharmacological pain relief methods, and use of intermittent monitoring during labor, as well as advocating position changes in labor and during delivery.

What are the disadvantages of a midwife-assisted birth?

There really are none unless a woman is considered medically at risk, in which case she would not be eligible for exclusive midwifery care. Because midwives are not physicians, midwives in Pennsylvania need to have a collaborating group of physicians to whom they can refer medically high risk patients, or call in case a cesarean is needed.

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