How can midwifery nourish your soul?
Throughout history, women have received support during every step of their journey to motherhood.
A midwife, meaning “with woman", takes responsibility for assisting women to have healthy pregnancies and birthing experiences. They place women at the centre of everything they do, offering professional advice, care and support through pregnancy, labour and birth, and postpartum.
Midwives and doula’s are frequently confused, as they both assist women to have optimal birthing experiences. Unlike a doula, however, a midwife is a qualified health care professional who is trained to provide a level of medical care. Midwives may take the place of doctors, or obstetricians, in Australia’s public health system where a pregnancy is considered to be low-risk.
The responsibilities of a midwife include preventing pregnancy complications, detecting abnormal conditions during the pregnancy, providing medical assistance, and when necessary, executing emergency measures. A midwife has either qualified traditionally as a nurse with specialised medical training, or qualified with a three-year university degree.
In Australia, practising midwives are required to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, which is regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Another peak body for midwifery in Australia is the Australian College of Midwives (ACM). This organisation may provide continuous professional development and support for midwives in Australia.
Benefits of midwifery
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that having a midwife during all stages of pregnancy and childbirth may offer significant and long-lasting benefits for women and their babies. Their importance in the pregnancy process is increasingly being recognised, with many hospitals in Australia working towards midwife-led models of care to improve continuity of care for women.
A large review has detailed several health benefits for women who have received midwife-led continuity of care. These include increased maternal satisfaction, and the decreased likelihood of having an epidural, fewer episiotomies or instrumental births, lower rates of induced labour and lower rates of pre-term births.
A midwife may also play a crucial role in facilitating successful breastfeeding during the postnatal period. Results from a study have shown that mothers with a midwife are more likely to breastfeed to at least six months. This is important, considering the fundamental contribution that breastfeeding makes to the health and development of the new-born, as well as to the mother’s health.
A large meta-analysis has also reported that Midwife-supported psychotherapy treatment may improve the mental health of expectant mothers, by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
A midwife may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Childbirth and labour
- Mental health
- Mood imbalances
- Pregnancy, birth and antenatal support
What to expect from a midwifery session
You may expect to see a midwife in a hospital setting, in the community or at home. Since a midwife may provide support over a period, the care that you may receive during your visits will depend on your stage of pregnancy.
During pregnancy, a midwife may discuss your general health and wellbeing, and provide you with information, advice and support. This is to help you make informed decisions about your labour and birth, equipping you with all the knowledge you may need as you transition into motherhood. Your midwife may also provide routine pregnancy checks on you and your baby, such as checking the baby’s position and growth or organise your ongoing tests and scans.
Your midwife may also provide skilled physical and emotional support during labour and birth, such as monitoring your health and the baby’s health. If necessary, your midwife may offer pain relief solutions, and get extra medical assistance if required. Throughout labour and birth, your midwife will stay by your side, keeping you well-informed on your progress and providing you with words of encouragement to ensure you receive the highest standard of care.
After the birth, your midwife will provide immediate postnatal support for you and your baby. This will include helping you learn about breastfeeding, assisting with your recovery, carrying out routine checks and setting up new-born screening tests.
If you are on Medicare, you may be eligible for Medicare rebates to cover the cost of your midwifery-led care.
Keep in mind that it is always advisable to consult a qualified health professional before commencing any wellness journey. The role of a midwife is to work alongside your doctor or obstetrician. If you have an injury or an underlying health issue, speak to your Midwife, who will be happy to address these concerns and personalise the therapy session to your individual requirements.