As a practicing Naturopath who has recently completed a degree in Midwifery I wanted to share some thoughts on Midwifery care and birth. I entered the degree due to my passion for preconception health care and wanting to reconnect women with the confidence and “tools” to have a natural/physiological birth. I believe in the paradigm that in most circumstances “nature knows best” and that given the right conditions the body has the inbuilt capacity to heal itself and to birth a baby. Pregnancy and birth are a normal part of the human experience and the application of innate knowledge and intuition in this area should be engaged, as has been the case for almost 300,000 years.
The role of the midwife is to provide support while working collaboratively with woman, to promote confidence, health, safety and reassurance that pregnancy, labour and birth are the domain of normal physiology. While it is important that midwives maintain a watchful eye, and work collaboratively with obstetric and multidisciplinary teams to care for women as guardians of natural birth it is also a time when expectant management is paramount and interventions should be used only when necessary or by maternal request.
By supporting what is essentially unfolding and holding the space for questions, concerns, acceptance, exploration and education around pregnancy and childbirth women can be made to feel safe and confident during this pivotal phase in their lives. Midwives should aim to work collaboratively with their colleagues, know their limitations and assist women to access the appropriate services and allied health teams as appropriate.
Midwifery care aims to provide women with options and a sense of wellbeing being throughout the preconception, pregnancy, intrapartum and postpartum period. Practitioners of midwifery should demonstrate respect, deep listening, provide evidence-based information and ideally work in a continuity of care model where there is an opportunity to get to know a woman’s history and to foster a sense of trust and security.
In summary I believe women have the right to be informed, exercise choice and actively participate in their maternity care. I hope to practice in accord with the philosophy I have outlined and uphold the principles as stated by the WHO that “every woman has the right to the highest attainable standard of health which includes the right to dignified, respectful health care” (WHO, 2014).
Rebecca Tanner Naturopath/Acupuncturist /Midwife
World Health Organization, 2014. WHO statement: the prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during facility-based childbirth. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014.