The Role of a Midwife

If chosen as your primary caregiver for pregnancy, the role of the midwife will take the place of an obstetrician. It's important to note that a midwife is not the same as a doula, a professional labor support person who is not medically trained and does not provide medical care.

While midwives represent the minority of birth attendants for childbearing women in the US, they are present at approximately 75% of births in the UK and other nations that support the Midwifery Model of Care, wherein midwives provide prenatal care for all low-risk mothers and obstetricians only see high-risk patients.

The midwife's role is a complex thing.   She:

  • understands and facilitates normal childbearing 
  • spreads health and well-being to women and their families
  • supports, facilitates and implements the woman's choice
  • comprehends the range of normal maternal, fetal and neonatal well-being 
  • does not implement interventions not based on sound evidence
  • can critically evaluate the evidence-base for midwifery knowledge and practice 
  • diagnoses factors that may adversely affect maternal or fetal well-being
  • locates appropriate assistance or intervention while providing continued family support 
  • manages skilled emergency interventions 
  • assists during bereavement
  • is a resource to women and their communities

The midwife assists in critical decision making regarding appropriate care in pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period. It is a skilled profession that provides continuous care over several months. Midwifery care confers many benefits over obstetrical care in that midwives are exclusively trained in normal birth with specialized knowledge on supporting natural birth. A typical midwife visit lasts an hour or more whereas a typical OB appointment is 5 minutes in duration. Midwives are an option well worth considering when interviewing potential caregivers.

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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE

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