Midwife 411

Is this kind of health care provider right for you? Learn what a midwife does, and whether you should see one.

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-Hi, I'm Ann Ebeling. You're watching Parents TV. Now, whether you're expecting, just had a baby or still considering getting pregnant, it's important to know that helpful women's health is out there. Midwives and doulas assist women before and during labor and delivery, and some even come to your home after the baby is born to help you get settled in with your little one. -Midwives have been around since the beginning of mankind. There are women like Karen Jefferson that help other women through childbirth and beyond. -A midwife is a trained professional who specializes in the care of women, the care of normal, healthy women from when you get your first period through after menopause. -Karen is a certified nurse midwife in the state of New York. She works mostly with prenatal care, childbirth and postpartum care. -With the family from the-- you know, from whenever they join our practice, sometimes people at the very beginning of pregnancy and sometimes people join our practice later, and then care through the birth, emotional support, and very, very importantly monitoring the mother's health and the baby's health throughout the labor and making sure that the baby's tolerating labor and that the mother's tolerating labor. -Karen helped Heather Cousins give birth to baby daughter, Katia, just 6 weeks ago. After interviewing several midwives, Heather chose Karen to help her with an at-home childbirth experience. -I really had access to the comforts of home, plus during labor and right after which was nice. I would it's extremely nice to go to bed in your own bed right after giving birth and not have to be woken up to get checked. -But not all midwives assist with homebirth. In fact, the majority of midwives work in hospitals. -The most important thing about birth is finding the setting that makes you comfortable to reduce your anxiety about birth. If you're very comfortable in the hospital, then that's where you should have birth. If you would like to be at home, then that's where you should have birth as long as you're healthy. -Most midwives are nurses as well and most are certified through their individual states. You can do it either way so you can be, you know, a career nurse then a midwife. You can be a nurse just to be a midwife. You can be a non-nurse midwife. -So what should you look for when seeking a midwife? -Karen says, "First get a feel for what's offered in your area, who the midwives are, their qualifications and where they practice." Then she says, "Find someone you get along with." -Especially if you're planning to have a non-medicated birth because the relationship, the trust relationship and comfort level is a really important thing, and I wouldn't-- I would recommend that people work with midwives who they liked. -Hey, it worked for Heather. -I have no ideas, and much like the rest of my life, I like to walk around paths, so I didn't wanna, like, just have to fit in to somebody's other's-- someone else's system. -I liked my midwife a lot, and I probably would've ended up in a hospital with a C-section if she wasn't here. -Midwives are covered by most insurance companies, and their fees are comparable to physicians' fees. If you'd rather have more emotional and physical support and leave the medical stuff to the doctor, you might be happier with a doula. A doula provides knowledge and unconditional support for mothers before, during, and after labor. When Katy [unk] and her husband became pregnant with twins, they knew they'd need some help. -We just knew that, you know, with twins, having never experienced it before that we wanted to have the best care that we could have and learn as much as we could so that we could do it on our own. -An online search led them to postpartum doula, Barbara Ryan. -There's really nothing I don't do; 24/7 on the phone, you call me at any hour, any day. I usually pick right up, and if not I call you back in seconds after, and I work every and any hour from mornings to evenings, overnights, and most doulas work that way. -Barbara helps Katy wash dishes, makes her snacks, changes diapers, grooms the babies, reads to them and more. -I go food shopping. I do laundry. I run errands, post office, whatever needs to be done. I make doctor's appointments. -Plus, doulas may help prevent postpartum depression. -You have that support there with you, so they don't get towards that edge that is bringing them towards that postpartum depression. You can help keep it at bay because you're there to talk to them about what's going on and not getting frustrated on their own and feeling isolated. -Doulas like Barbara have to take an intense course to become certified. -You have to fill out forms. You have to go into clients' homes and get them to evaluate you, and you submit all your papers. You have to write essays and that's how I got certified. -Finding a doula is easy. Barbara says the best places to get information are on the internet, at your doctor's office or hospital labor and deliver floor or by asking other mothers in your area. When looking for a doula, Barbara and Katy both say experience and personality top the list of must-have traits. -I knew that Barbara is also a nurse and that was a labor and delivery nurse, so I knew that was tremendous, and we were really lucky. I knew she had many years of experience, been in hundreds and hundreds of homes with twins as well. -An unconditional support, I think, is really important and personality and that she's there for you when you need her. -And that's exactly what Katy says Barbara has done for her. -It is the best thing we could've done for ourselves, incredibly helpful and just a real delight, and I couldn't imagine doing it without her. -Doulas charge about $25 to $45 an hour. But don't delay; it's important to book your doula or midwife as soon as possible to make sure she's there for you when you need her. Thanks for watching Parents TV, your source for the best information for your growing family. -Thank you for watching Parents TV, our families, our lives.