Many women are drawn to SBH Health System by our outstanding midwifery program.
Midwives are trained to see childbirth as a normal, healthy event – although a common misconception is that women choose midwives only if they want a “natural” or unmedicated childbirth. While assisting in natural childbirth is one of the strengths provided by our midwives, our primary goal is to help you make informed choices.
The profession itself dates back to ancient Egypt (and is mentioned in the Old Testament). Midwives became a mainstay in America shortly after the arrival of the Mayflower, often learning to deliver babies from their mothers who assumed this role in their village. The medical profession, however, felt sufficiently threatened by midwives to wage a campaign against them. Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, they were prosecuted as witches.
Today, midwives enjoy a new-found respect. The American College of Nurse-Midwives requires that midwives pass a national certification exam and, since 2010, hold a graduate degree.
The midwives at St. Barnabas Hospital are intimately involved in every stage of childbirth. This includes pre-pregnancy counseling, prenatal care, childbirth planning, labor support and delivery, postpartum care, breastfeeding support, and circumcisions.
Midwives favor avoiding procedures and medical interventions whenever possible, which has resulted in positive effects on the culture of our labor and delivery. For example, episiotomies – a surgical cut between the vagina and the rectum made during the final stages of labor and delivery – used to be standard. Now, it occurs in a small percentage of our births. This shift was due in part to the influence of midwives and the open minds of our doctors who work with them. There is also a higher chance of vaginal birth, a reduced risk of preterm birth, and a better chance of a successful start to breastfeeding, with greater satisfaction. They also have lower rates of labor induction and augmentation, a reduced incidence of serious tears, and less regional anesthesia.
In addition to evidence-based care with improved health outcomes, midwives’ high-touch approach – without sacrificing the most advanced medical care available – is associated with lower costs for patients and insurers. Research has shown that women cared for by midwives simply do better.
Many expectant families prefer to work with midwives for less tangible reasons. Midwives take time to listen. They believe that childbearing is normal and that every woman and her family should create the birth experience that is most meaningful to them.
Our midwives and doctors work together. If your pregnancy becomes high-risk or complications arise, you don’t have to stop seeing your midwife. You can continue to consult with your midwife as well as an obstetrician or perinatologist for management of any complications.
We have created an amazing team of midwives at SBH Health System. They hold graduate degrees from the profession’s most elite institutions and have worked in a range of different health care settings.
Recognized for the work they do in obstetrics, midwives also provide well-women care. They see patients for routine annual screenings and do pre-conceptual counseling, family planning, post-partum care, etc.