Midwifery vs Obstetric care
Midwifery vs obstetric care has been a controversial topic in some circles. For some, it is hard to decide which one is better or more important. My answer is: Neither. They both have a place and time. For low-risk pregnancies, midwifery care would be more appropriate and for high-risk pregnancies, the obstetric care is needed.
In the recent issue of the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, there was published an editorial named “Midwifery Is Not Obstetrics: The Importance of Precise Maternity Care Language”. The article suggests that providers use appropriate terminology when discussing midwifery care and not make it sound the same or equal to obstetric care. I agree with the author. However, I believe many people, especially not directly involved in women’s care do not know the actual difference in obstetric and midwifery care models. By this post, I would like to bring more awareness on midwifery and midwifery care model.
Please, don’t take me wrong, there is a place and need for OB care when appropriate. For example, when someone has a high-risk pregnancy, needs C-section, has previous uterine surgeries, serious chronic health conditions, etc. In those occasions, OB care or at least consultation and co-management are needed.
Today, just about 10 percent of US births are attended by midwives. And, according to the American Midwifery Certification Board, as of August 2016, there were 11,475 CNMs in the US. However, over the last few years, there’s been a growing interest among women to consider having their births led by midwives. Midwife-led deliveries are generally lower-tech, less invasive, and less inclined toward intervention without a clear medical need and less likely to end in C-section.
Midwifery is a discipline that melds science with art; it is a humanistic approach to providing quality health care to women, newborns, and their families that recognizes the sacredness of the individual and of the processes of fertility and birth, and that honors women across the lifespan. The definition of the word midwife is “with women”. With midwifery care you may be assured that you will be in good hands whichever way your labor and delivery may end up, the midwife will be with you and will support you through the whole process.
Here is a statement from the ACNM (American College of Nurse-Midwives) regarding midwifery care philosophy:
We, the midwives of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, affirm the power and strength of women and the importance of their health in the well-being of families, communities, and nations. We believe in the basic human rights of all persons, recognizing that women often incur an undue burden of risk when these rights are violated. We believe every person has a right to:
- Equitable, ethical, and accessible quality health care that promotes healing and health
- Healthcare that respects human dignity, individuality, and diversity among groups
- Complete and accurate information to make informed healthcare decisions
- Self-determination and active participation in health care decisions
- Involvement of a woman’s designated family members, to the extent desired, in all healthcare experiences We believe the best model of health care for a woman and her family
- Promotes a continuous and compassionate partnership
- Acknowledges a person’s life experiences and knowledge
- Includes individualized methods of care and healing guided by the best evidence available
- Involves therapeutic use of human presence and skillful communication
Until the next time,
Likis, F.E. Midwifery Is Not Obstetrics: The Importance of Precise Maternity Care Language. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. Volume 62(4), pg. 395-396. July/August 2017.
Tharpe, N. L., Farley, C., Jordan, R.G. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Midwifery & Women’s Health (p. 1). Jones & Bartlett Learning. Kindle Edition.