What Does a Midwife Do?

what does a midwife do

The modern use of a midwife and a planned homebirth is increasing in the United States.  This leads many newly pregnant people to ask the question, What Does a Midwife Do? A midwife is a highly trained birth professional and is often the right care provider for people seeking to have a natural birth.

An Introduction to Midwifery

Midwifery is the practice of providing care to pregnant people and their developing baby throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.  A midwife is a healthcare provider who specializes in low-risk pregnancy and natural birth. Midwifery services are often more individualized, personal, and cost effective than medical care from a hospital provider.  Midwifery upholds the client as the center of their own healthcare and a midwife tends to each aspect of a woman's pregnancy and well-being throughout the perinatal time period. 

What Does a Midwife Do During the Pregnancy?

During pregnancy a midwife provides prenatal care to their clients per the normal obstetric prenatal schedule.  This means that a midwife has prenatal appointments with their clients once a month up until they are 28 weeks pregnant, 2 times per month after that, with weekly appointments starting at 36 weeks of pregnancy until labor starts.  

Midwifery prenatal appointments tend to last much longer than the average hospital based prenatal appointment.  A midwife will spend an hour with each of their clients during their visits to monitor their vitals, check in on their pregnancy growth and development, run any labs or tests, listen to the baby’s heart tones, and to also provide time for questions, to assess the emotional well-being of each person, to provide informed choice regarding procedures, and to build relationships and trust with each client.

A midwife is on call for each client during pregnancy.  Therefore, a client can contact their midwife at any point if they have urgent questions or concerns.  Additionally, clients can rely on having someone available to them who knows them, knows their history, understands their specific pregnancy, and can provide counsel to them over the phone, or come see them in person if a concern requires a more in depth follow up.  All lab work and testing can also be done with a midwife in pregnancy. Many midwives collect lab work in their own office and refer clients out for ultrasounds.

What Does a Midwife Do After Your Birth?

    A midwife’s work doesn’t end with the birth.  Midwives provide ongoing postpartum care too! At Hearth and Home Midwifery, the midwives provide postpartum appointments in each client’s home.  Midwives will come to you, so that you can continue to heal after birth and bond with your baby, while still receiving exceptional healthcare. Postpartum care with a midwife is typically far more comprehensive than what people are used to if they’ve ever received postpartum hospital based care.  A midwife will provide around 4-6 postpartum appointments in the first 6 weeks after a baby is born. 

Midwifery Services in Portland, OR, Vancouver WA and the Gorge!

Hearth and Home Midwifery is offering well-rounded midwifery services in Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, Washington and the Gorge.  The midwifery practice is licensed in both the state of Oregon and the state of Washington, so they can care for pregnant people no matter what side of the river they live on.  It makes sense to hire Hearth and Home Midwifery as a midwife team if a pregnant person is looking for continuity of care, relationship and client centered appointments, if someone wants to be in charge of their own birth experience, and if they want to have a natural birth!  The midwives provide a free, one-hour long consultation to anyone who is interested in midwifery care with both of the midwives of the homebirth practice. Following the interview, prenatal care can start right away. The midwives of Hearth and Home Midwifery enjoy getting to start care with people in the beginning of their pregnancy, but they’re also able to accept new clients at any point along their pregnancy journey.  The midwives provide thorough prenatal care complete with all obstetrical labs and ultrasound referrals if a person chooses to have them. All labs and tests are offered with thorough, informed choice and each client is encouraged to make the healthcare decision that feels right for them, their body, and their baby. Hearth and Home Midwifery deeply values individualized care and client autonomy.

When it’s time to attend a birth, the midwives bring all of their birth supplies to their clients home and provide in-home midwifery care throughout the entirety of the labor and birth.  The midwives will listen to the baby’s heart tones throughout labor, will assess maternal vital signs, assess for labor progress, and maintain the safety of homebirth. Each client in labor receives care from both of the midwives throughout their birth.  The midwives come as a team of two in order to be available for both mom and baby throughout the birth and immediate postpartum. By attending births in a team of two, this midwife team is able to tend to both mom and baby thoroughly and quickly. They are able to uphold and protect the safety of homebirth by working together in this way.  The midwives will provide emotional and physical presence during the birth, and will assist people in catching their own baby if they choose to. Hearth and Home Midwifery is also well practiced in water birth and is excited to help people achieve one if they choose to. Once a baby is born, the baby is kept skin to skin with their mother while the midwives assist the mother in delivering their placenta.  The midwives keep a close watch on maternal bleeding, maternal vital signs, and the overall transition of the newborn. While they are rarely needed, the midwives have all of their emergency supplies nearby should either Mom or Baby need any additional support during this time. The midwives can control maternal bleeding, perform neonatal resuscitation, suture any maternal tearing, and provide standard newborn medications.  After a couple of hours or so following the birth, and once both Mom and Baby are thoroughly cared for, stable, and ready for sleep, the midwives will provide postpartum instructions, help the family into bed, and leave the home to return the next day.

The midwives will provide postpartum care per their typical postpartum schedule, which includes at least 4 home visits in the first 2 weeks after a baby is born, and also includes newborn blood typing, newborn screening, assessment of neonatal jaundice, and ongoing breastfeeding support.  This midwife team is a highly trained and experienced team of two certified professional midwives passionately serving all homebirth families in Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, Washington, and the Hood River Gorge!