What Happened to the Midwife?

Submitted by Laura McDermott '10 on March 15, 2010

C-Sections. Epidurals. Contractions. All scary terms for a woman going into labor. However, does child labor really have to be like that? Haven’t women been giving birth since before there were hospitals? What happened to the midwife?

Nursing Fairfield Alumni Vanessa Daou came to share with students about the heavily misunderstood job of the midwife on Thursday, February 4. While Daou works in a hospital at the present moment in labor and delivery, she is concerned about the large number of C-sections doctors are performing, and is working on completing her certified nurse midwife degree at Frontier Nursing in Kentucky.

C-sections are easy for doctors,” Daou explained. “You can schedule a C-section, and they make more money doing it. However, there are a lot of problems with C-section babies. They may have trouble breathing and breast feeding, and if taken too early, may end up being low birth weight babies.”

It’s easy to trust our doctors and hospitals, Daou asserts, thinking we are getting the care we need. The hospital seems safe with its monitors, IVs, and pain medications, and the image of a midwife with a bag full of herbs doesn’t sound so appealing when you know you’re preparing for an intense amount of pain. However, today’s certified midwife is fully equipped with all of the necessary modern nursing tools in case something does go wrong during childbirth, and works collaboratively with physicians to provide the safest care for mothers and babies.

In all, Daou says that with midwives, it is possible to receive more continuity of prenatal and post natal care. Midwives take a holistic focus that includes a healthy diet, exercise, and stress reduction. Daou’s illuminating lecture emphasized how imperative it is that we advocate for the kind of quality care we think we should be getting. As she put it, “Being pregnant is not a disease, and it shouldn’t be treated like it is one. We need to give choice back to the woman.”

For more about the midwife profession, click here.

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