Midwifery: A Woman’s Choice

Ronnie's Awesome List is proud to present a guest post by Melanie Hamburger, Director of Development at the Marin City Health & Wellness Center and a supporter of The Marin Family Birth Center, Marin’s first freestanding alternative birth center.

Midwifery is a women-focused way of providing comprehensive maternal care for low-risk pregnancies. Women deserve choice in childbirth, and not all women feel comfortable in a hospital setting for this experience. The ultimate expression of natural health and well-being is in contrast to a room filled with technological intervention. Yet having a birth at home may not be the optimal choice for some women.

Starting this summer, there is a third option: Marin’s first freestanding alternative birth center. We hope you’ll attend an open house on Saturday, 6/25, 10am-2pm, to see the birth suites and meet the  Marin Family Birth Center, 880 Las Gallinas, San Rafael near Northgate.

Did you know that cesarean section is the most common surgery performed in the United States? While sometimes necessary, it is major abdominal surgery and can effect the overall health and safety of mother or child. The World Health Organization recommends a C-section rate of 10-15%. The average in California is over 25%. Here are some things that every pregnant woman should know about C-sections. The overuse of cesarean sections in the U.S. is a reality that all families should know when making a choice about maternity care.   

Additionally, cesareans increase the cost of childbirth. Birth centers typically provide services for less than $6,000 – contrasted to $18,000-$50,000 for the average hospital charge for vaginal and C-section deliveries and newborn care. Yet despite these high costs, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country.

Contrast these medical procedures to the holistic, wraparound healthcare of the midwifery model, an ancient practice to safely bring babies into the world. Midwives maintain low-risk pregnancies by offering longer pre- and post-natal visits with women where they encourage questions, choices and, even, the father’s participation in this ultimate family experience. Midwives improve maternal health outcomes through comprehensive perinatal care. They provide access to all recommended prenatal testing, and emphasize ongoing perinatal education, nutrition and self-care. We encourage families to ask about midwifery options.

For low-risk pregnancies, birth centers offer a woman the opportunity to create her own birth experience.  Birth centers make natural birth more comfortable by encouraging women to move freely during labor, select their own delivery position and choose water births, if desired. Most deliveries are normal and can be managed without medical intervention. However, birth centers partner with hospitals in the rare case when transport is needed for the safety of mother or  child – this happens in 6% of birth center deliveries.

A midwifery approach to childbearing is vital to creating healthy births, healthy babies and healthy communities. Any woman can receive midwifery care at some point in her pregnancy, where true informed consent to all health care procedures is encouraged. Learn more at Midwives Alliance of North America and the North American Registry of Midwives.

Melanie Hamburger is Director of Development at the Marin City Health & Wellness Center and a supporter of California midwifery and The Marin Family Birth Center, Marin’s first freestanding alternative birth center. Learn more about The Marin Family Birth Center at their Open House on June 25th, 10am-2pm in San Rafael. You can also find them online at their websiteFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram.