I frequently discuss birth options with my newly pregnant clients. ‘Should I have a home birth, birth center birth, or a hospital birth?’ ‘What is the difference between a certified professional midwife (CPM), a certified nurse midwife (CNM), or an M.D.?’ In pursuit of our goal to help shed some light on this question, I encourage you to read this blog in our series from guest blogger, Elizabeth Spring.
The Midwifery Model of Care
Licensed midwives have specific guidelines on which they base their method of care. Midwives themselves vary as much as any one person from another, but their core beliefs and practice protocols are built upon the same foundation. The Midwives Alliance of North America and the Midwifery Task Force have defined this foundation in a statement titled The Midwives Model of Care (1), which includes the following:
- Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
- Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
- Minimizing technological interventions
- Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention
The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section while providing a healthy outcome for mother and baby (2).
From this foundation, midwives develop common philosophies of the midwifery model. The International Coalition of Midwives has written a document outlining common philosophies entitled The Philosophy and Model of Midwifery Care. Some of the foundational aspects included in this document are used to define the model of care that midwifery provides:
- Midwives trust that women are capable of natural childbirth, thus midwives partner with women to achieve each mother’s desired birth.
- Birth is a natural physiological process, and pregnancy is a state of health.
- Childbearing is a hugely profound experience in women’s lives.
- Women should be supported in healthy choices for their pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Midwives are to be continuous partners with women in their decisions and experiences during this time, not authoritarian “providers”.
- Midwifery care is holistic, avoiding unnecessary interventions and using a thorough knowledge of the expectant families’ cultures, beliefs, and life experiences. (3)
- Citizens for Midwifery [http://cfmidwifery.org/mmoc/aboutdefine.aspx] (1)
- Midwives Alliance of North America [http://mana.org/about-midwives/midwifery-model] (2)
- International Confederation of Midwives [http://www.internationalmidwives.org/assets/uploads/documents/CoreDocuments/CD2005_001%20ENG%20Philosophy%20and%20Model%20of%20Midwifery%20Care.pdf] (3)
****** If you’re not pregnant yet, pre-conception care is what you do to prepare yourself to become pregnant. Come learn how to enhance your health in preparation for optimal fertility, a healthy full-term pregnancy, a straightforward labor, a rapid recovery, successful breastfeeding – and of course,a bright, healthy beautiful baby! Learn how nutrition, changes in body composition, exercise and sleep can positively impact female and male fertility and impact the health of any future pregnancy.