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Who to Hire: Benefits of Hiring a Midwife

Hiring a midwife has a lot of benefits, from having more personalized care to costing less. If you’re considering hiring a midwife, keep reading to find out what benefits you’ll have to look forward to if you do.

pregnant woman talking with a midwife

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Did you know that midwives achieve better birth outcomes than OBGYNs, pretty much without fail? We’re talking higher chances of vaginal birth, lower rates of preterm birth, less likelihood of postpartum hemorrhaging, and more!

And that’s just one benefit of hiring a midwife.

When you get pregnant it can be hard to know who to trust with your care. Midwives and OBGYNs care for their patients differently and those differences have a huge effect on how you experience this unique time of life.

I’ve already written about the differences between midwives and OBGYNs, how to know if a midwife is right for you, and the 4 different kinds of midwives. Today I want to go over all the benefits of hiring a midwife – why I think midwives are such a great option for most women.

Can I Have a Midwife in the Hospital?

Before we get into the benefits, I want to make sure we’re on the same page about two things.

First, can you have a hospital birth and have a midwife? Yes, you can.

But…

Chances are the kind of midwife who attends births in hospitals will be more like an OBGYN than the kind of midwife who attends births outside of hospitals.

Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are nurses who then become midwives. They have a medical background. And they usually practice pretty similar to how OBGYNs practice. Most often, they work in doctors’ clinics and attend births in hospitals. 

If you talk to your OBGYN office and they say you can choose between the OBGYN group or the midwife group for prenatal care, those midwives are probably CNMs. Whether you choose OBGYNs or midwives in this case, you’ll still go to the same clinic for appointments and your appointments will be basically the same as they would with an OBGYN.

If you want to give birth at home or at a birth center, you’ll probably be cared for by a certified professional midwife (CPM).

Will I Still Get Those Better Birth Outcomes?

The second thing is connected to the first. 

I already mentioned that midwives achieve better outcomes than OBGYNs. So does that apply whether the midwife is in the hospital or out?

Yes…but not to the same degree.

In a study of more than 10,000 births, researchers compared rates of perinatal death (when the baby dies) and other birth outcomes across planned home births, planned hospital births with a midwife, and planned hospital births with an OBGYN.

They found that hospital births attended by OBGYNs had a rate of perinatal death of 0.64%. The rate during hospital births attended by midwives was 0.57%. And the rate of planned home births with midwives? 0.35%.

As far as other outcomes, the researchers concluded, “Women in the planned home-birth group were significantly less likely than those who planned a midwife-attended hospital birth to have obstetric interventions.”

So yes, you can have a midwife in the hospital. And yes, she’ll likely help you have better outcomes than an OBGYN. But a home birth with a midwife is by far the best option, if we’re strictly talking outcomes.

Benefits of Hiring a Midwife

With those two things established, we can begin. To be clear, most of these benefits apply only to care with an independent midwife who works outside of the hospital.

Appointments With Midwives are Longer and More Personal

Let’s start at the beginning. Prenatal care is the first area where hiring a midwife brings big benefits. 

Independent midwives set their own schedules so they have far more time with each client than a doctor does. My prenatal appointments with my midwife were often an hour or longer.

That extra time allows for a few things.

One thing it provides space for is opportunities to get to know each other.

This is the person that will be with you during one of the most intimate, life-changing events of your life. The more comfortable you are with them and the more you have come to trust them, the better your experience will be.

The second thing longer appointments allow for is individualized care and education.

Midwives Have More Time to Educate

At my appointments with an OBGYN, a nurse would check my heart rate, blood pressure, and weight and then lead me into a little exam room. After a few minutes, a doctor would come in and introduce himself. (There were 7 OBGYNs at the clinic I went to so I didn’t always see the same one.)

He’d check the baby’s heart rate and ask if I had any questions, and that was that. 

It was nice of him to ask if I had questions. But the thing was, I didn’t even know what questions to ask. So most of the time I just told him I didn’t have any.

When I started meeting with my midwife, we were able to sit down and have a conversation every time. That meant she could teach me what I needed to know. And as she taught, I was able to ask clarifying questions.

I also started keeping track of things that I saw online or heard people talk about so that I could ask her at my next appointment – things like how much blood was normal during birth and what kind of carrier she recommended.

She also taught a Bradley Childbirth class, which my husband and I took.

The education she provided to me, both in the class and in prenatal appointments, was invaluable.

Midwives Provide Holistic Care

One of the big benefits of hiring a midwife instead of an OBGYN is that midwives see things holistically.

In other words, midwives approach your care with the understanding that everything is connected – your physical health generally, your pregnancy, your mental health, etc.

For example, midwives encourage women to exercise specific muscles during pregnancy to prepare for labor. Exercises like deep squats and butterflies both strengthen and stretch the muscles that need to be toned for your body to labor effectively.

Midwives also tend to use herbs and other natural remedies rather than turning to medicine or intervention.

Some midwives (and some childbirth methods) encourage women to acknowledge and address their fears about birth. Emotions can affect our bodies in direct ways so it makes sense that midwives would make emotional health a priority during prenatal care.

Midwives Focus on Nutrition

As part of their holistic mindset, midwives also focus on preventative care, especially nutrition. Nutrition matters not only for the development of your baby but also for avoiding birth complications, like your baby being born prematurely

Many midwives recommend The Brewer Pregnancy Diet, which places emphasis on getting enough protein and enough salt, along with eating a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet.

Dr. Brewer, who created the diet, discovered through his own research that sufficient nutrition can prevent or treat most pregnancy complications, including the following: 

When I asked my OBGYN if I should be eating specific foods or avoiding others, the advice he gave was, “Be a grazer.”

I’m sure he had the best of intentions, but most medical schools don’t even teach a single course dedicated to nutrition. So he just didn’t know.

Midwives Will Attend Births at Home or at Birth Centers

This one is a little more obvious. If you hire a midwife, you have three choices for where to give birth, rather than just one.

Some midwives work at birth centers. And some home birth midwives will go with you to a birth center if that’s what you choose.

Birth centers are, in some ways, the best of both worlds.

They are somewhat like hospitals – they are separate from your home and have designated rooms where you’ll give birth. But they’re also somewhat like home – they tend to have a more homey set up, with a normal bed and decor and a more relaxed feel.

A home birth is nice because you don’t have to travel anywhere during labor. You’re surrounded by your own things, in your own space. And you get to sleep in your own bed right after giving birth, with no lights or machines or strangers anywhere near.

READ MORE >> Birth Center vs Hospital: What They’re Like and Factors to Consider

READ MORE >> Birth Center vs Home Birth: Similarities and Differences

Midwives Are Hands-Off Immediately After Birth

One of the big differences I often point out between midwives and OBGYNs is that the minutes and hours immediately after birth look quite different, depending on which you choose.

Soon after your baby is born, you will deliver your placenta. After your placenta is delivered, the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut.

OBGYNs often give Pitocin and sometimes pull on the umbilical cord to get the placenta to come out. They usually clamp and cut the cord immediately. (Even when hospitals say their policy is delayed cord clamping, they just mean they wait at least 30-60 seconds after birth.)

Midwives will wait for the placenta to detach on its own. And they often wait several minutes, if not closer to an hour, to clamp and cut the cord.

In addition to delayed cord clamping, midwives usually wait to do any tests or measurements until mom and baby have had at least an hour together, bonding and initiating breastfeeding.

To make those first few hours even more intimate and special, some midwives wait until 24 hours later to do the newborn screening test (which requires a heel prick).

Midwives Achieve Better Birth Outcomes

As I mentioned in the intro, hiring a midwife usually means your birth will go better. That includes less chance of a c-section, decreased risk of severe tearing, less postpartum hemorrhaging, significantly lower risk of death, and less chance of assisted vaginal birth.

In addition to the medical benefits, women are more satisfied with their birth experience when they are cared for by a midwife.

Women Cared for By Midwives Have More Success Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing and is the best way to provide your baby with the nutrition he or she needs. But it can also be hard. 

Women who are beginning to breastfeed need education, support, and encouragement. And midwives can provide all three.

Studies have shown that women cared for by midwives have better rates of both initiating breastfeeding and of continuing to breastfeed after the first few weeks. 

To learn about why breastfeeding is so beneficial to your baby and to you, check out Breastfeeding vs. Formula: 25 Benefits of Breastfeeding.

Midwives Cost Less

Finally, midwives (often) cost less than OBGYNs and hospitals.

If you receive prenatal care from an OBGYN and give birth in the hospital, you’ll likely pay between $6,000 and $10,000 (depending on extra lab costs, ultrasounds, or hospital costs like epidurals and c-sections). 

If you have good insurance or you’ve already met your deductible for the year (and depending on where you live) you may pay less than that.

Midwives, on average, cost between $2,000 and $9,000 in the US. That’s a big range, obviously. Most women pay closer to the $3,000-6,000 range to hire a midwife.

And if you give birth at home, you won’t have any costs associated with the place of birth. (Birth centers can cost anywhere from $2,000-7,000 but your midwife fee is often included in that.)

With midwives, it’s also much easier to know exactly how much things will cost from the start.

Hospitals are incredibly vague about how much they charge and for what. If you get any number at all, you’ll probably just get an estimate based on other women who had the same insurance provider as you.

Midwives, on the other hand, can tell you exactly what they charge, and for what, at your first appointment. If you plan ahead for the supplies and other items you’ll want for the birth, you can know exactly how much you’ll be paying before labor begins.

READ MORE >> How Much Do Midwives Cost?

READ MORE >> How Much Does a Home Birth Cost?

TL;DR

Clearly, hiring a midwife has lots of benefits. They provide more personal care and you get more time with them at each appointment. You’ll be better educated and prepared for labor, especially because you’ve learned about the importance of nutrition. 

Your prenatal care will be more holistic, including a hands-off approach right after birth, and you’ll have a better chance at successful breastfeeding.

You can choose if you’d rather give birth in a birth center or at home instead of a hospital.  You’ll have better birth outcomes, including more satisfaction with your experience.

And finally, you’ll probably pay less for a midwife than for an OBGYN. 

That sounds pretty good to me.

If you want to learn more about midwives check out these blog posts:

With all that said, I recommend you hire a midwife (as long as your pregnancy isn’t high-risk). Midwives will provide better, more personalized care and you’ll likely have a more satisfying and happy birth experience.

Midwives are the experts on normal pregnancy and childbirth. Why would we not want that?

Until next time,

Allison

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