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Career Information: Midwifery



Official Resource

Official Resource: North American Registry of Midwives - http://www.narm.org/
Short Definition
Midwives work with women so they can experience a healthy pregnancy and a safe natural childbirth as well as providing necessary education and follow-up care. Licensed midwives or nurse-midwives receive extensive training in gynecology, fetus development, obstetrical complications, nutritional assessment, counseling, community health, family planning, various forms of delivery management, and other issues surrounding pregnancy and birth.

Expanded Information
The simplest definition of midwifery is "with woman", but truly, midwifery means different things to different people. For many, the Midwifery Model is an attitude about women and how pregnancy and birth occur, and view that pregnancy and birth are normal events until proven otherwise. It is an attitude of giving and sharing information, of empowerment, and of respecting the right of a woman and her family to determine their own care.

The attitude of midwifery, or the Midwifery Model can be contrasted with the Medical Model. In general, the Medical Model is an attitude that there is potential pathology in any given situation, and that medicine

can assist to improve the situation. Medicine is also about teaching, informing, and prevention, but the power seems to be more with the provider rather than with the woman.

Historically, midwives have always been around to help women give birth. Before physicians, midwives were the primary healers in their communities. They were the medicine women of their own cultures, and assisted families and women throughout their lives. In the Old Testament they were described as examples of the strength and faith in God.

Midwives were once the nutritionists, herbalists, doctors, ministers, counselors all rolled into one 'profession'. Many feel they were the first holistic practitioners. Midwives were always available to help the poor, the women without medical care or the women who were the outcasts of their culture. Today, midwives take care of anyone who wishes to see them, but practice within the constraints of their medical and legal systems.

Today midwives are as diverse as the populations they serve. Midwives are willing to take care of anyone who wishes to see them. Over 70% of births in the world are attended by midwives. In the Netherlands,

midwives deliver a majority of the babies. Other countries do not utilize midwives to their fullest potential. Each country worldwide has a slightly different view of midwifery, and of how midwives work within their communities. In sci.med.midwifery, midwives will speak from these various perspectives and cultures. Midwives are encouraged to share their statistics and work situations within this newsgroup.

What do midwives do?

Midwives teach, educate and empower women to take control of their own health care. In most communities, they provide prenatal care, or supervision of the pregnancy, and then assist the mother to give birth. They manage the birth, and guard the woman and her newborn in the postpartum period.

Most midwives encourage and monitor women throughout their labor with techniques to improve the labor and birth. Reassurance, positive imaging and suggestions to change positions and walk helps labors progress. Many midwives provide family planning services and routine women's health examinations such as pap smears and physical examinations.

For example, in the United States some midwives can prescribe medications, provide women's health care throughout the menopause years. Midwives worldwide attend births in the home, hospital or birthing center, depending upon their education and licensure, and the rules governing their practice..