This week the Midwives Association of British Columbia called on our provincial government to increase investment in and support of midwifery care. And with good reason, too: midwives improve health outcomes for parents and infants; improve access to maternity care in rural and remote areas; and reduce health care spending. Not only is midwifery care beneficial to our publicly-funded health care system, but it offers many benefits to expectant parents too!
Here's ten benefits of midwifery care:
1. Holistic model of care
I love that the midwifery model of care is person-centred and holistic. This aligns well with my own Indigenous perspective on health as a balance of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. The midwifery model of care treats pregnancy and birth as a normal physiological event and is well-suited for expectant parents that want to minimize unnecessary medical interventions. That said, midwives are highly trained medical professionals, and offer many of the same medical screenings, options, and treatments that a family physician or obstetrician could.
2. Bringing birth closer to home
BC midwives support rural, remote and Indigenous communities to bring birth closer to home. For Indigenous Peoples, this is a step toward decolonizing birth. Bringing birth back to communities that have been subjected to evacuation policies supports Indigenous Peoples to reclaim our traditional birth roles, revive traditional birth practices, and surround new parents with the support of family and community.
3. Longer visits
Midwives typically offer 30-60 minute prenatal visits. When's the last time you got that kind of face time with your doctor? These longer visits give you a chance to develop a trusting relationship with your midwife and ask lots of questions so you can be an informed decision-maker in your care!
4. Choice of birth place
Some people think midwives only attend home births, and others are shocked to learn home birth is even an option! Most births attended by midwives are in hospital, however, home birth is also an option for healthy, low-risk pregnancies.
5. Home visits
You will typically remain under the care of your midwife for six weeks postpartum. In the first week or two, your midwife will visit you IN YOUR HOME! I cannot stress enough how fantastic this is as a new parent. No need to shower (or even get dressed), pack the diaper bag, buckle your new baby in the car seat, and sit in a full waiting room at the doctor's office. Just stay in bed and let the midwife come to you!
6. Pap tests
Did you know that your midwife can do your pap test? Yes, it's true! One less separate appointment to schedule, and you're looking out for the long-term health of your cervix at the same time.
7. Lending library
Many midwifery practices offer lending libraries. So just in case your local library doesn't have the awesome selection of prenatal and parenting books that Vancouver Public Library has (or maybe the waitlist for the book you want is just too long), check out which books you can borrow from your midwife.
8. Lower cesarean section rates
If you're looking to avoid a cesarean section, you may want to choose a midwife. Midwife-assisted births have a 42% lower rate of c-sections than the provincial average.
9. Education and support groups
Some midwifery practices offer additional services such as educational workshops, prenatal classes, and parent groups. Here's a few local examples:
10. Community referrals
Midwives are connected within the communities they serve and are often able to make referrals to local service providers such as acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, counsellors and, of course, doulas.
You can find out more about supporting BC Midwives here.