Midwife-Led Care Benefits Mothers and Babies, Study Says

Can you reduce your chances of premature birth by choosing a midwife? Image by Thomas Hartwell, USAID

Can you reduce your chances of premature birth by choosing a midwife? Image by Thomas Hartwell, USAID

Midwife Care Reduces Preterm Birth and Early Miscarriages?

Professor Jane Sandall, lead researcher of this study, told Decoded Pregnancy that the most surprising result of the review was a reduction in preterm birth associated with midwife-led care; a new finding.

Previous research indicated only that fewer early pregnancy losses occur under the care of midwives.

Sandall added, “We need to find out why fetal loss is reduced for babies under 24 weeks’ gestation, and why there are fewer preterm births and likely fewer overall fetal losses and neonatal deaths in midwife-led continuity models of care. For example, whether it is the model of care itself where midwives are in a position to pick up problems and get the right specialist input as early as possible, or whether a relationship where a women knows and trusts her midwife leads to a better outcome.”

Midwives See Your Pregnancy and Birth as Normal Events

Midwives monitor your physical, psychological, spiritual and social well being while providing you with individual education, counseling and prenatal care. You can expect your midwife to be in continuous attendance during labor, birth and the immediate postpartum period – and to provide you with ongoing support.


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While midwives tend to minimize technological interventions, they are good at identifying when women need them. The quality and the degree of relationship between you and your midwife does have an impact on birth experience and outcomes, according to researchers.  Additionally, being involved in decision-making processes increases your confidence and ability to cope before, during and after birth.

Midwife-led Services Cost Less

While the cost of midwife-led care was found to be less than that of physician-led care, an exception was postpartum follow-up care, probably because midwives make more visits to address diverse problems, including newborn care and breastfeeding issues. Further research is needed to study midwives in home birth practices, and to reveal whether midwife-led care improves long-term maternal outcomes, such as postpartum depression, incontinence, prolonged perineal pain, and pain during intercourse.

The review found no adverse effects for mothers and babies associated with midwife-led care and concluded that most women should be offered this option.

Reviewers noted that in areas where such care is not available because of government health system financing, “policy makers who want clinically important improvement, particularly in normalizing and humanizing birth and preventing preterm birth, should consider how financing of midwife-led services can be reviewed to support them.”

Midwife Care: Slightly Longer Labor, Reduced Chances of Pregnancy Loss and Preterm Birth

Most women would trade slightly longer labors for continuity of care with a midwife they know and trust. All mothers want to avoid pregnancy loss before 24 weeks gestation and preterm birth. And who wouldn’t want to birth without instruments and avoid the need for stitches? These and other benefits explored in a review of studies make midwife-led care an attractive choice for pregnant moms.

References:

Sandall, J., et. al., Midwife-led Continuity Models Versus Other Models of Care for Childbearing Women. (2013). The Cochrane Library. Accessed September 18, 2013.

© Copyright 2013 Mary Earhart: Pregnancy, Childbirth, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Pregnancy

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Comments

  1. Ross Lucas Unger says:

    Thought provoking article. I am sending this to my ob/gyn friends. Ross

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