Midwives are recognized and respected world wide as experts in the care of normal childbearing women. The midwife’s focus is on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding as natural life processes, not illness. This wellness focus shapes the way in which a midwife cares for women.
The relationship between a midwife, the woman and her family is based on mutual respect. Midwifery actively encourages the mother to become fully informed about choices throughout the reproductive period and to take an active part in decision making. The mother is encouraged to develop the understanding, skills and motivation necessary to take responsibility for, and control of, her own health. The choices available to a woman include choice of birth site. Midwives provide birth care in home, birth center or hospital.
Continuity of care is a basic principle of midwifery. The woman and her family are cared for by an individual or small group of midwives throughout the pregnancy, birth and postpartum periods. The mother has the opportunity to get to know all members of the team who will be providing care to her.
Midwives are constantly on the watch for early signs of problems and when a problem is caught early there is a greater chance that it can be corrected or minimized. A lot of time is spent with women answering questions, supplying information and counselling; emphasis is placed on preventive measures such as a good diet, healthy lifestyle and simple safe remedies for common ailments as well as the normal inconveniences of pregnancy.
A common misconception about midwives is that they are against the use of technology. Midwifery’s emphasis on continuity of care and preventative measures can reduce the use or over-use of technology. Midwives are however, advocates of the appropriate use of technology when the need arises based on informed choice and active participation by the parents in the decision making.