Midwifery is now seen as a health science profession that deals with pregnancy, child birth, and post-partum care. It is now a more respected and acceptable profession. However, it was not always so widely accepted. In fact, in one point in history it was outlawed and heavily regulated. In the 18th century there was conflict between medical professionals and midwives. Medical professionals thought that the medical way was the only way proper technique to deal with pregnancy and childbirth. They were not necessarily wrong. Midwives now have proper training and are also used in a hospital or birthing center. Back in the day it was considered medicine and for example was done by just anybody who called themselves a midwife, i.e. Tara Westover’s mother. The late 20th century brought midwives that are more professionally trained and considered specialized professionals in the world of Obstetrics. Midwifery is also more popular and widely accepted in Europe, specifically in Sweden. Swedish midwives give about 80% of prenatal care and family planning. This could be due to the government laws which are so drastically different that other areas in Europe and America. Studies show that those who receive care and go through childbirth with a midwife are less likely to result in a birth that requires an epidural, an episiotomy, or any other instrumental assistance. On the other end though studies show that these women also have on average a longer child laboring experience measured in hours. Pregnancy is categorized into three different trimesters. The first trimester is from conception to week 13. During this time the midwife takes down the family history, past pregnancy information, measures the woman’s blood pressure, height, and weight. At this point further tests can be requested such as a pap smear, bloodwork, std check, and/or urinalysis. Possibly an ultrasound to get a proper due date. This depends on the center you are seeking care. Some birthing centers aren’t as invasive as a medical office. However, there is a wide range in midwives from more “old-fashioned” to those up to date and on board with today’s medical technology. The second trimester goes from week 14 to week 26. During this time frame the pregnant woman and her support person will see their midwife more regularly about once a month, unless needed more. Blood pressure will be monitored as well as the growth of the mom’s baby bump. The midwife will discuss common pregnancy side effects and can answer any questions or concern of the expecting mother. Further lab test can be requested at this time. The third trimester is from week 27 to week 40, give or take a few weeks dependent on child birth. During this time, the midwife will see the pregnant mother about every two weeks until week 36 where visits become weekly. Weight, blood pressure, and abdominal measurements will continue to be done. Other lab work can be requested at this time as well. In this time frame, the midwife will begin palpating the mother’s abdomen to feel for the position of the baby as well as perform cervical checks to see if the mother is dilating. The midwife and the mother will also discuss birthing options and make a birth plan. Today midwives are qualified to assist with normal vaginal deliveries whereas doctors will be needed if more complications arise. Throughout labor the midwife monitors the mother’s vital signs as well as the baby’s vitals. Contractions will also be measured as well as fluid intake and output. During this first stage of labor where the cervix needs to dilate to 10 centimeters the midwife is there for support as well. The second stage of labor is delivering the baby which if there are no complications the midwife can deliver the baby and cut the cord if the father does not want to. The third stage of labor is delivering the placenta which the midwife can assist with by encouraging the mother to push or gently tugging on the umbilical cord. The fourth stage of labor which is the most neglected is the six weeks following birth. The midwife after birth will check for excess bleeding or any tears. The midwife can also assist with breast feeding help and encourage skin to skin contact as well as continue to monitor mother and baby. A midwife sees the mother for a minimum of ten days postpartum. There are a wide range of midwives from private to corporate practices. There is also midwifery-led continuity care which is a group of midwives who have the primary responsibility of childbearing women and can refer to another medical professional when needed. Midwives are dated as far back as to 1900 BC in Greek and roman culture. Today it requires an education and extensive training to become a midwife. To be a Certified Nurse Midwife you are both a nurse and a midwife which requires at minimal a bachelor’s degree. For centuries midwives have been assisting woman with pregnancy and childbirth but today they can also assist and give care to any woman during their reproductive life. There are several different types of midwife each requiring different training. Certified Nurse Midwifes are the highest, most recognized, and widely accepted degree of midwifery. This requires a degree and a license to be maintained. The other 3 options of midwifes are not fully recognized or accepted in all states and their qualifications lessen as the lower levels. Today certified nurse midwives have a wide range from assisting with pregnancies and childbirth to just giving gynecological care and everything in between. Midwives have come a long way and have proved themselves as a vital part of the medical professional team.
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