Monday, February 8, 2010

The Midwifery Model of Care

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Alva Edison

For me, this statement embodies the midwifery model of care.

Midwives generally approach birth from the perspective that if it's not broken, don't fix it. Midwives help women approach pregnancy in a holistic fashion: taking into account diet, lifestyle, personal and emotional well-being, and more in helping a pregnant woman stay healthy and low-risk and
avoid complications rather than expect them and react to them.

This isn't to say that midwives are ill-equipped to handle problems. They are trained to know what to watch for, and when transfer of care may be needed if something is beyond their scope of practice. Even home birth midwives come to a birth equipped with knowledge as well as tools in case there is a need for it. I was a little surprised when I was in labor with my planned home birth and my midwife showed up with an oxygen tank along with her other tools. She set it aside and never needed to use it, but it was there just in case.

Birth is a natural process, not inherently dangerous

Yes, there are complications that can come up in birth, and there are times when medical intervention is definitely needed. The majority of the time, however, no such intervention is warranted.

According to Grantly Dick-Read in his book "Childbirth Without Fear" 95% of all births are low-risk and require no medical intervention whatsoever.

The Midwives Model of Care™ is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events.

The Midwives Model of Care includes:

  • monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • minimizing technological interventions and;
  • identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention

The application of this model has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.

The Midwives Model of Care definition above is Copyright © 1996-2001, Midwifery Task Force, All Rights Reserved.

I've written many times before about midwives. Here is an older blog post that might be of interest:
Differences Between Physician and Midwife - My Personal Reflections

In the coming weeks I will be posting a series of blog posts about midwives, along with some personal experiences and advice from some of my friends. If you have any questions or comments, or would like to share your own experience, please feel free to post a comment below.


  1. I'm excited to see this! I think there needs to be a lot more education about midwifes and their model:) Thanks!

  2. i'm a new reader, found you through rachel...

    love this topic! i also agree that more women need to know how wonderful midwifery is!

    - fellow birth lover/advocate from mesa arizona

  3. Kamille, welcome! I love getting feedback from readers :) There will be a total of 14 posts in this midwifery series. The second one has been posted just this morning, about different types of midwives. Just click on the blog title at the top of the page to see the most recent posts.