A collaborative practice that includes surgical expertise and holistic know-how can mean a win-win for you and your baby:
Less waiting, more service You’ll still likely log time in a waiting room, but seeing a doctor or midwife in joint practice can save you precious minutes (or hours). “Most physicians feel rushed,” says Peter Weiss, M.D., an OB-GYN in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif., who shares an office with a midwife. Weiss often divides his time between office hours, deliveries and surgeries, but by partnering with a midwife, his patients can get more from each appointment. “A typical prenatal visit with a C.N.M. or C.M. will include a health assessment and education about pregnancy, nutrition, fitness, preparation for labor, as well as any factors in your life that are contributing to your health and that of your baby,” says Holly Powell Kennedy, Ph.D., C.N.M., first endowed chair of midwifery at Yale University and president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Natural childbirth is encouraged “Midwives fundamentally believe that a woman’s body knows what to do in labor and how to give birth,” says Michelle Collins, Ph.D., C.N.M, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn. In a collaborative practice, your midwife will be spending the most time with you during labor—a boon for moms who want to go au naturel, but don’t want to give birth at home. In fact, 96 percent of births attended by midwives happen in a hospital setting.
Midwives can help you manage pain by suggesting helpful labor and delivery positions (view step-by-step photos of squatting and swaying at fitpregnancy.com/laborpositions), pain management techniques (breath work and imagery) and hydrotherapy (warm showers and baths), as well as providing pain medication or ordering an epidural, if needed.
You’re covered in an emergency The majority of births go off without a hitch, resulting in a healthy mom and healthy baby. However, if a complication unexpectedly comes up, a collaborative practice means you have an OB-GYN—most likely one you already know—at the ready. As for my own birth, after three days of laboring at home, I checked into the hospital. My midwife was supportive and gave me the confidence I needed to endure such a long labor. Together with my OB-GYN, they encouraged me to push—so that’s just what I did. My son was born healthy and well after four days of labor. If I’d had just one or the other on my team, my birth experience might have been completely different. But, with an OB-GYN and midwife in my corner, I was able to have the birth I’d hoped for—knowing that no matter what came my way, we could handle it.