A midwife is a specialist who cares for women during normal pregnancy and labor. Read about the modern midwife's role.
What does a midwife do?
A midwife is a specialist who cares for women during pregnancy, labor and postnatal periods. If potential or actual problems arise, the midwife will refer you to a consultant doctor who has special training in the complications of pregnancy and labor (an obstetrician).
Nowadays, midwives ensure that all is well during pregnancy (through exams, ultrasound scans, monitoring of the fetus, etc), offer emotional support and ante-natal classes, and also monitor the mother’s health in the first few weeks after the birth, provide information on contraception and advise on baby’s feeding and hygiene.
Midwives play an essential role for women in terms of medical care and emotional support.
Hospital midwives staff prenatal clinics, maternity and postnatal wards. Being a midwife in a hospital is a bit like being in a baby factory. Unfortunately, midwives don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to each mum. They will answer questions about post-pregnancy care and baby’s health. They can also give advice on every subject affecting the newborn or the new mum (breastfeeding, the baby blues, etc) but in practice, midwives are juggling time as the increase in the number of midwives is not in line with the increase in the number of births.
Nevertheless, on all maternity wards, there is always a midwife on duty who will be able to give help and advice throughout your pregnancy. Your midwife is a very valuable resource! With the arrival of new technology, the midwife’s expertise is broadened, but sometimes to the detriment of emotional support. A midwife’s skills are vast. We forget sometimes that a midwife can administer a local anesthetic, perform an ultrasound scan, ensure the overall running of the birth and re-inject anesthetic during an epidural administered by a doctor. On the other hand, not many midwives are trained in the use of instruments such as forceps to assist birth and must hand over to the doctor or consultant midwife in case of complications or a difficult labor.
Community midwives provide ante-natal, intra-partum (during labor) and post-natal care. They often work in teams and they provide individual support and advice. During pregnancy, they see you either at home or at a clinic; during labor, they are available for a home birth or they may come into the hospital to be with you; then once your baby is born, they visit you at home for between 10 to 28 days after the birth, or as long as they deem necessary.