Once a month, the midwives of South Shore Hospital host a free program, Meet With the Midwives, an open forum for expecting moms and support persons to become introduced to the team of certified nurse-midwives, learn about midwifery care, and find answers to their questions as they consider the option of choosing a midwife as their provider.
Being a midwife myself, I was looking forward to attending the June 11th program, as an observer, to see what kinds of questions came up from the attendees. As I entered the room I was pleasantly surprised to see it packed with at least 20 expecting women, most of whom were accompanied by a birth partner. As we all introduced ourselves, one woman explained that she was pregnant with her seventh baby and all six of her other children were born with midwives. She couldn’t say enough in praise of the care she received.
In addition to the expecting women, their companions, and the midwives, there was a new mom in attendance with her one-week old baby that was born naturally (without the use of pain medication) despite a birth weight of 11 pounds, 6 ounces! She was a patient of one of the midwives and her presence was a highlight of the evening. This new mom was so immensely happy with her birth experience she felt compelled to share her story, even if it meant leaving her house so soon after birth. She spoke at length about her appreciation for her midwife and how respected and supported she felt during her prenatal care and birth. She reported how grateful she was that her caregivers avoided mentioning the word “epidural” per her request, to help her achieve her goal of having an un-medicated birth. She then comically shared that Nannette, her midwife, told her at one point during labor, when she especially needed encouragement, “I can hear you dilating.”
Everyone in the room chuckled at that line because it was funny to imagine being able to hear someone dilate - an impossibility, right? …..Or is it??
OK, it’s true that one cannot literally hear the cervix dilate but did you know that a midwife can acquire a significant amount of information about one’s labor and birth just by listening?
- A midwife hears the deep sound of a woman’s groans as her contractions become stronger and more frequent, a sign that her labor is more active and dilation is occurring more rapidly.
- She listens for the soft rustle of the sheets as a woman’s toes begin to curl, often a sign that labor is more advanced and she is getting closer to having an urge to push.
- She hears the resistance in a woman’s breath as she begins to bear down, ready to birth her baby.
- She can tell by the sound of a baby’s cries if all is well.
Most of all, however, a midwife will listen to YOU! She will ask you what kind of birth you are looking for and support your choice, as long as it’s safe, of course. Some people believe that a midwife only attends “natural” or un-medicated births but that is not true. If you are planning to use an epidural, no problem – you can still have a midwife.
Shared decision-making between provider and patient is a national maternity care initiative that helps improve outcomes and increase patient satisfaction. Shared decision-making is when your midwife or OB offers you options for your care, fully describes evidence-based risks and benefits for those options, listens to your preferences and supports your choices as long as they are medically reasonable. Having a voice in your own care is empowering and will help you feel more in control of your labor and birth. Having a voice means someone is listening.
Educated in the disciplines of nursing and midwifery on a master's level, South Shore Hospital’s 10 + nurse-midwives are members of the American College of Nurse-Midwives and certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. They see patients both at affiliated community OB/GYN practice settings, including Crown OB/GYN and Atrius, and on our main campus at South Shore Hospital. To gather more information about the South Shore Hospital Midwives, be sure to attend the next Meet With the Midwives program. No registration is required.