Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Posted by: Lauren MacKenzie, CNM, MSN
In times of stress and transformation, most people find the support of a trusted person to be invaluable. Challenges become manageable and fear can turn into determination if you are surrounded by people that believe in you and encourage you towards your goals. At no time is this more apparent than when you are in labor, working towards the birth of your child. In recognition of this, a hallmark of midwifery care is honoring the therapeutic value of human presence. Midwives have both the technical knowledge and the passion and interest to support women in labor and assist them in achieving the birth they are hoping for.
The intuitive value of labor support has been supported by numerous scientific studies. Women who labor with continuous support from a caregiver are less likely to request pain medication, less likely to have a cesarean section, less likely to have a forceps or a vacuum delivery and report more satisfaction.* The kind of support that a medical or non-medical person can provide includes massage, physical support for different labor positions, warm or cool compresses, suggesting changes in position, walking with a laboring woman, providing hydration and snacks and offering words of encouragement and support. Just being there with a laboring woman can be enough to provide her the comfort she needs.
In addition to labor support, a midwife brings the capabilities of keeping the mother updated on the progress of her labor and her baby’s status, as well as her knowledge of what has worked in other labors and births she has attended. As your healthcare provider, your midwife can also initiate interventions, such as IV hydration or pain medications, should you elect to use those technologies. She is there to give you hands-on assistance and encouragement and to advise you on your choices in every stage of your labor and birth.
The bond forged by working together and sharing the joy of your birth often becomes a lifelong one, with many women returning to their midwife for future pregnancies as well as gynecologic care. With their training in providing annual exams and treating common gynecologic ailments, midwives are a great choice for women across the lifespan.
Lauren MacKenzie is a certified nurse midwife who sees patients at the Newberg office of Women’s Healthcare Associates, LLC.
*To read more about the evidence surrounding labor support, visit Childbirth Connection, including the Cochrane Review on Effects of Continuous Labor Support.