Are you expecting? It’s such an exciting period of preparation, regardless of whether this is your first baby or you are an experienced mother.  At North County Health Services (NCHS), we want to provide you with the best possible experience with your pregnancy, labor, and birth. Our goal is for you to feel confident throughout your entire pregnancy, from start to finish, so you feel well prepared to deliver and mother your child.

Midwives deliver positive birth outcomes around the world! At NCHS, Certified Nurse Midwives work with Board-certified Obstetrician Gynecologists to help ensure that you and your baby are as healthy as possible while providing personalized service that you feel comfortable with.

What Is a Midwife?

“What is a midwife?” is a question we hear a lot from couples looking to start a family. The simplest answer is that a midwife is an individual (usually a woman) that is trained in managing the care of women through the lifespan from adolescence to post-menopause. Like many midwives, the NCHS team of midwives primary focus is on pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum care.

A midwife has extensive knowledge, training, and expertise in helping women deliver their children, which allows them to be able to help all kinds of mothers and future mothers with incredible results. Midwives are well-versed in virtually every step of pregnancy from beginning to end.

If you desire, midwife services can extend well beyond childbirth: midwives can assist in virtually every aspect of women’s health, including contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, annual exams, and more.

As you learn more about midwives, you’ll likely hear about the different kinds of midwives (which may vary from state to state):

  •   Certified Midwife – non-nurse who has passed a certification exam and taken a graduate-level midwifery degree program.
  •   Professional Midwife – a midwife that has also met any requirements for certification from the North American Registry of Midwives
  •   Direct-Entry Midwife – a midwife that specializes in births that take place in the home or birthing-centers.
  •   Lay Midwife – a midwife with informal training, typically in an apprenticeship by working alongside a professional certified midwife.
  •   Certified Nurse Midwife a registered nurse who has undergone additional training and education in the areas of pregnancy and childbirth and has received her master’s degree in nurse midwifery.

Above all, midwifery care is all about providing mothers with a positive and satisfying birth experience by giving unparalleled support throughout the entire pregnancy process, especially during labor and delivery.

Midwifery Practice

Many midwives work outside of traditional medical offices or facilities, such as in private midwifery practices. They may still deliver at hospitals, birthing centers, and other typical birthing locations, however. No matter where you hope to deliver, utilizing midwifery care during your pregnancy is a great option for many reasons. Many women choose midwifery care and midwife services because a certified midwife often has a more delicate, supportive, and educational role in the pregnancy process. Rather than visiting an OB-GYN (which is still a great route to go), midwifery care allows the woman to be more intimately involved in the decision-making process for her care. Most NCHS patients report that the midwives caring for them offer a more holistic approach to the experience of pregnancy and childbirth and that they feel really listened to by their midwives.

At North County Health Services, we provide midwife services and other women’s health services to help make your pregnancy and childbirth as pleasant and satisfying as possible. At NCHS you will always have a team of professionals available to you, including your midwife, obstetrician, registered dietician, childbirth educator, and more. Together with your midwife, you can choose who you want to support you on your journey to motherhood. 

Benefits of Midwifery

There are different ways to approach your pregnancy and childbirth, but there are some benefits that come with having a trusty midwife at your side through every step and decision along the way. If you want an unmedicated birth, the midwife and childbirth educators will support your choice and help you prepare to meet that challenge. Many women choose to have pain medication, including epidural anesthesia for labor and birth, and the midwife will help you prepare for that too!  Breast or bottle feeding? Your midwife is your best resource at helping you with establishing healthy feeding patterns for your baby.

Midwife practices and certified midwives commonly have varied payment options, flexible pricing in select situations, and may even accept a wide range of insurance plans, making it easier to choose the midwife route for your childbirth if it’s a form of care that you are drawn to.

In addition, having a midwife at your side is also known for having the following benefits:

  •   Decreased risk of needing a cesarean (C-section)
  •   Less use of regional anesthesia (based on mother’s choice)
  •   Decreased risk of preterm birth and infant mortality rates
  •   Lower costs to you and insurers
  •   Increased chance of breastfeeding success
  •   Reduced rates of labor induction/augmentation
  •   Overall increase in satisfaction of quality care

Continue reading below to learn more about these benefits and more that come with working with a midwife at NCHS.

Benefits of Working with a Midwife for your Pregnancy & Birth

Each year, more and more women are choosing midwives for their prenatal care and to deliver their babies. In 1989, just 3% of US births had midwives as the primary care provider, but in 2014, over 12% of vaginal births in the US were attended by midwives. Midwives provide the best in evidence-based care, while offering continuous support to moms during pregnancy and delivery, with the fewest interventions necessary. The benefits of midwifery care for the exciting journey to parenthood are endless, and here at NCHS, we have incredible midwives providing the comprehensive, personalized care you and your baby deserve.

Benefits of Midwifery Care

Midwives are experts in managing normal pregnancies and births, as well as in recognizing when complications occur that may require obstetrician care are needed. Midwives focus on providing moms-to-be with physical, emotional, and psychological support throughout their pregnancies. Midwives spend more one-on-one time with each woman they care for, promoting wellness and ensuring all questions and concerns are addressed in pregnancy and during labor, birth, and afterward. This helps each woman feel confident in her ability to be the best mother they can be.

For moms who prefer a more natural and holistic approach to childbearing and birth, a midwife is an excellent choice. Midwives consider pregnancy a normal event in a woman’s life, not a disease or health concern that requires medical treatment. Midwives take a comprehensive approach to prenatal care focusing on providing women with education about all the options in her care and then supporting her decisions. This may include choices about what kind of tests she may or may not want to have during her pregnancy, information about the use of pain medications in labor, and education about different choices for how she feeds her newborn.  Women are given the information they need to make the choices that are right for them, and their midwives support them throughout the entire process.

In general, midwives are said to prepare women for the labor and delivery process better than any other care provider. The trust and confidence you build getting to know your midwives meant that your needs and desires will be well-understood long before you go into labor. In addition to the teaching at each prenatal visit, the NCHS midwives will refer you to a birthing class, can help you prepare a birth plan, and find a care provider for your new baby. They can also help you get connected to support groups with other new moms or with other women learning to breastfeed or struggling with postpartum depression.

Rest assured that the NCHS midwives not only  know when a mom-to-be needs additional medical support, but they also work in collaboration with the NCHS team of board-certified OB-GYNs and local high-risk maternal fetal medicine specialists to ensure that you get the safest care possible.

Benefits of a Midwife During Labor & Delivery

The labor and delivery process is where midwives really shine. Moms who choose midwives as their primary care provider may desire a natural, vaginal birth where few to no medical interventions are utilized unless absolutely necessary. Midwives are trained to assist moms with holistic pain management, natural relaxation techniques, optimal birthing positioning, and so much more. However, if you desire to have an epidural during labor or are in favor or certain medical interventions, midwives are prepared for that too.

The benefits of having a midwife oversee your labor and delivery also include a number of health benefits for mom and baby. A decreased cesarean rate, a lower rate of induction, a reduced rate of regional anesthesia, decreased infant mortality rates, decreased risk of preterm birth, and increased satisfaction with quality of care are just a few benefits of a midwife.

Midwives are the experts in any and all birth scenarios. They recognize and use medical interventions only when absolutely necessary, so moms who use midwives during labor and delivery are less likely to experience unneeded interventions, such as episiotomy, birth by forceps or vacuum, and more. These medical interventions have been linked to later health concerns, so having a midwife by your side during labor not only helps moms heal faster after delivery, but it also helps babies stay healthy in the early days and for years to come.

Benefits of a Midwife for Postpartum Care

The first few weeks as a mom can be overwhelming, to say the least. Between elation at meeting your new bundle of joy, extreme exhaustion, and rapidly changing hormones, being a new mom can be quite a whirlwind. Thankfully the ongoing support of midwifery care can help you manage all of this.  NCHS midwives offer more follow-up visits after your birth to review all the physical, emotional, and psychological changes you are experiencing and to offer extra help for breastfeeding, postpartum depression or anxiety, or any other issues that may come up. Six weeks after your baby is born your midwife can guide you through your options for birth control and family planning. All NCHS midwives can prescribe and manage all birth control methods so that you can focus all your time and attention on your new baby without fear of a surprise pregnancy.

The benefits of a midwife are far-reaching. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant until long after your sweet baby is welcomed into the world, a midwife can play a big role in your life, as well as your overall health and wellness and that of your child. If you select an NCHS midwife for your prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum care, you are sure to have a great experience and feel as confident and equipped as possible when it comes to birthing your baby and becoming a mom. Get in touch with NCHS today to find a midwife near you.

Seven Things to Know About Midwives

Here at North County Health Services, we have excellent women’s health programs and an award-winning midwifery program. Many women are unaware of the excellent benefits that a midwife can offer to you during and after a pregnancy, so they tend to stick with a traditional obstetrician for both prenatal and postnatal care. However, midwifery can provide women with many things that obstetricians alone cannot. Take a look at our top seven things you need to know about midwives. 

1.     They can provide care for both normal, healthy pregnancies AND high-risk pregnancies.

It is common today for women of childbearing age to have poor health before they become pregnant—they may be overweight, obese, diabetic, hypertensive, and more. We wish to provide the best care to all women, so we welcome all patients, regardless of health status and risk factors, in our midwifery program. Some high-risk pregnancies may be more closely overseen by an OB-GYN or other medical specialist, but we support all women’s decision to advocate for herself and her baby, and we strive to provide the optimal birthing experience for every woman we serve.

2.     Their preterm delivery rate is well below national and state averages.

The state of California’s average preterm delivery rate is 8.3%. The national average is 9.6%. NCHS’s preterm delivery rate is only 5.6%! When you consider the fact that March of Dimes wants the national average to be lowered to 8.1% by 2020, our 5.6% is even more impressive! On top of a lower preterm delivery rate, we also have found that of our preterm deliveries, the vast majority of them take place at 32 to 37 weeks gestation, which is considered “moderate to late preterm.” Only 0.22% of our babies are born “extremely preterm” (before 28 weeks), 0.56% are born “very preterm” (28-32 weeks), and the remaining 4.8% are born in those remaining 32-37 weeks, making them “moderate to late preterm.” This is a testament to the quality of prenatal care that our midwives deliver and the fact that our moms are healthier both physically and mentally when they work with our midwives.

3.     Their low birth rate averages are much lower than national averages.

A low birth rate is considered less than 2500 grams, or 5 pounds and 8 ounces. The national average for babies born with a low birth weight is 8%, while NCHS’s rate is 4.06%. A very low birth weight is considered less than 1500 grams, or 3 pounds and 4 ounces. The national average for babies born with a very low birth weight is 1.4%, while NCHS’s rate is 0.23%. This ties in with the success we’ve seen in minimizing our preterm birth rate, but it also proves that midwifery care plays an important role in the education of our moms and the health of our babies.

4.     Their cesarean rate is much lower than the national average.

The CDC reported that in 2014, 32.2% of all births were by cesarean section. At NCHS, our total cesarean section rate (including women with one or more previous C-sections, some of which are elective) is 24%, while our primary cesarean section (first one) rate is only 13.58! The high C-section rate in our country is quite concerning, especially when you consider that many of them are not medically necessary. Women who undergo cesarean deliveries not only have to experience life with a newborn, but they also have to recover from a serious surgery, adding to their stress, potential for complications, and additional health concerns. Our midwives play a huge role in keeping our C-section rate low not only by keeping our moms healthy, but by encouraging vaginal deliveries through pain management techniques, creative laboring positions, and supporting and encouraging moms to accomplish the birth plan they desire.

5.     CNMs are extremely well-educated.

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, “certified nurse-midwives are registered nurses who have graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program…and have passed a national certification exam.” In addition to attaining a bachelor’s degree and completing graduate work, CNMs must also take continuing education courses throughout their careers.

6.     They do more than just prenatal care and delivery.

While many women think of midwives just as people who deliver babies, they can do anything from well-woman visits to cervical cancer screenings to pre- and postnatal care and delivery.  

7.     They offer patient-focused care and alternative approaches.

Instead of viewing pregnancy and delivery as medical emergencies waiting to happen, they view them as normal, natural events. They also focus on their patients throughout their entire pregnancies and stay with them during their entire labor and delivery, which helps them make the best care-based and patient-focused decisions the entire time.

For more information about the award-winning midwifery program here at North County Health Services, check out our website or give us a call at 760-736-6767.

Should You Choose an OBGYN or a Midwife?

After reading all of this information about midwives, you may already have your mind made up about which type of provider to choose for your own pregnancy, delivery, and women’s health needs. However, we’re here to break down the differences for you and help you make the best decision for you and your baby during your pregnancy.

If you’re expecting a baby, you’re likely already aware of the large number of decisions you’ll have to make throughout your pregnancy and your baby’s first few weeks. One of the biggest choices will come with the type of care provider you select. This individual will care for you during your pregnancy and will deliver your baby when he or she is ready to enter the world. Depending on your personal preferences, experience having babies, and beliefs about childbirth and prenatal care, you may choose either an OB-GYN as your primary care doctor during your pregnancy or you may prefer a midwife.

Both types of medical professionals are going to give you prenatal care, labor and delivery support, and postpartum care. There are a number of factors that will go into your decision, and your preference of care provider will be based on those factors. Some of those factors include the type of birth you want, the amount of support you want during labor, what type and how much pain management you anticipate wanting, your expectations during labor and how much freedom you’ll want during the process, the amount of support and advice you’ll want after the birth and throughout your pregnancy, whether or not you are high-risk, and your overall health. Education is key, both for you and your partner, as you embark on this journey towards parenthood. OB-GYNs are the most common type of medical provider to serve pregnant women today, although more and more women are turning to midwives for their prenatal, labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Know what types of services and the type of care each provider will offer you, and make your decision based on your preferences and desires for the labor and birthing experience you hope to have.

OBGYN Care

OBGYNs are medical doctors who are specially trained to provide care and surgical procedures to women. They are experts in the female reproductive system, pregnancy, and female problems that require surgery or advanced medical attention. OBGYNs offer a variety of options for labor and delivery, including vaginal birth with or without medication, planned caesarian section, and emergency caesarian section. They are supportive of any and every type of pain management technique, though they are generally seen as less supportive of completely natural births, especially when labor progresses slowly. OBGYNs generally offer less freedom in the delivery room and may require women to lie down during labor and be under constant monitoring. This is dependent on the physician, however, so if you want to utilize OBGYN care but wish to have certain freedoms during labor, have a conversation with your doctor about what they are okay with. Obstetrician/gynecologists will always answer your questions during prenatal visits and will help you to feel comfortable with everything you experience during pregnancy. They are always willing to refer you to specialists outside their realm of expertise should you need it, but they are less likely to spend a great deal of time advising you during doctor’s appointments. Generally speaking, OBs won’t be in the room with you during your labor. You will have a number of nurses tending to you and helping you work through the labor pain, but the OB will typically only stop in occasionally and show up for the actual birth. Thanks to medical advancements and the specialty of OBGYNs, they can provide care for any woman during her pregnancy, regardless of her current or past health and any possible complications or high-risk labels that she is facing.

Midwifery Care

Midwives are trained medical professionals with expertise in obstetrics and newborn care. They specialize in prenatal care, labor and delivery support, and postpartum care, and they are known for providing more personalized and attentive care to women throughout the entire process of their pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Midwives usually provide more family-centered care and typically provide support for more natural birthing experiences. If you are passionate about having a vaginal birth with no medicine of any kind, a midwife is a great choice. They have a number of natural pain-relief techniques that can help you minimize pain, speed up labor, and encourage a natural and quick delivery. Midwives are also known for allowing more freedom during labor, such as the ability to eat and drink, as well as the ability to move around and change positions during labor. Midwives are typically present for the entirety of your labor, and they can provide breathing and pain-relief techniques while you’re waiting for baby’s arrival. Midwives typically spend more time with you at prenatal appointments, talking about any concerns you might have, answering questions about the baby’s or your own health, and helping you feel at ease with your pregnancy and your upcoming labor and delivery. Midwives typically only serve women who are considered low-risk, but there are some exceptions. They always work with obstetricians so that in the case of an emergency, they could turn to another medical professional for support. Additionally, if you ended up needing a caesarian section, the obstetrician they work with would be able to perform that. Midwives are also more willing to take on individuals who have previous C-sections but wish to have a vaginal birth with this pregnancy. They believe that minimal intervention is best and that is it only appropriate when absolutely necessary.

No matter which type of care provider you would prefer during your pregnancy, NCHS has an excellent staff made up of both OBGYNs and midwives to best serve you. Get in touch with us today or come into one of our many locations to learn more about our midwifery services, our OBGYN care, and our other health services.

Contact us today to learn more about midwifery services and our midwife practice. We’ll happily answer any questions that you have so that you can feel educated and confident throughout your entire pregnancy. Join us this October as we celebrate National Midwifery Week during the first full week of the month, from Sunday to Sunday.

NCHS has comprehensive women’s health services and healthcare center locations dedicated to helping you through every step of the pregnancy process and more. Give us a call or send us a message and we’ll help you get started!

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