The Profession of Midwifery

By: Mary Olsen

The profession of midwifery is the practice of giving support, guidance and care to an expectant mother during her pregnancy, labor and delivery. The goal of a midwife is to assist a low-risk mother in having a healthy and natural pregnancy and delivery with as little intervention as is necessary. Midwives typically strive to educate the mother on healthy behaviors during pregnancy such as proper nutrition and avoiding harmful substances, proper exercise and also the signs and symptoms that could signal trouble. An educated mother produces a healthier baby, so the midwife takes this part of her job very seriously.

The profession of midwifery began at the very beginning of human existence. Once a mother had given birth to her own child she became uniquely qualified to assist another mother during childbirth. Supporting the mother and providing advice and experience are still important parts of midwifery today. Of course, today's midwives usually receive more education and training than just having given birth themselves, but their job is much the same as it has been since the beginning.

Today, the profession of midwifery is practiced legally in 39 states, while 11 still oppose it. Even in states where it is illegal, women have been known to cross state lines and even go to other lengths to have a midwife assist with their birth rather than going to a hospital. Many women value having the choice and being able to birth their babies in a setting that is far more natural and comfortable than a hospital. Especially since at the hospital a "natural birth" still involves being hooked up to an IV and several monitors during labor and delivery and the newborn is still subjected to being poked and prodded when they should be suckling on their mother's breast for comfort.

The profession of midwifery has survived throughout the ages in spite of persecution including imprisonment or even death all for the "unspeakable" act of supporting a woman's choice to birth her baby as she sees fit. Woman who are educated on all aspects of their pregnancy and childbirth options tend to experience far less stress about childbirth and usually report feeling less, or even no pain at all. With all of the history of midwifery being considered, it seems safe to say that the profession of midwifery will continue to survive until there are no more babies to be born.

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Mary Olsen has assisted and attended many natural and at-home child births and is the main contributor for Mothers Naturally. Mothers Naturally is a public education program for the Midwives Alliance of North America. Mothers Naturally believes that natural childbirth and pregnancy are healthy life processes.

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