What your midwife wants you to know
Midwives have been helping women through childbirth since time immemorial. In the UK, their role is to provide support and guidance during pregnancy, childbirth and the ensuing period. If you have any questions or concerns, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact them – they are there to help and reassure you.
So, how will a midwife support you?
A midwife’s primary role is to provide care and advice before, during and after childbirth, including:
- Information on how to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Supporting your quest to quit bad habits such as smoking or drinking
- Planning your regular antenatal care
- Providing care after birth
- Dealing with emergencies
- Identifying potential problems and, if necessary, contacting a doctor or other health professional for assistance
- Supporting parents who have recently experienced a miscarriage or who have a disabled or poorly baby
Some Useful Tips
1. No two pregnancies are alike
When reading through the plethora of information that is available nowadays, it is important to bear in mind that no two pregnancies are alike and every newborn child is different. For example, there is no guarantee that what happened during your first pregnancy will happen again during your next. Naturally, relatives, friends and even social media platforms will be more than willing to offer some advice, but actually it is your midwife who is in the best position to keep you informed about the up-to-date guidance.
Remember, it’s your pregnancy and your baby. Therefore, it is crucial that you listen to your body. If you start feeling as if something’s not quite right, don’t hesitate to contact your midwife for advice. The health and safety of you and your child is paramount, and midwives can provide you with the necessary information so you can make the right choices. Their main objective is to help you achieve your ultimate goal – give birth to a healthy baby.
Midwives don’t consider any question to be trivial or silly; what is important to them is to make sure you get an appropriate answer and as a result peace of mind. You need to maintain a positive mindset during your pregnancy and in this regard midwives are vital members of your team.
A quick guide on contractions
You should be aware by now that contractions are a normal part of every pregnancy. If they occur infrequently and at irregular intervals, then your body is probably sorting things out naturally.
If the contractions come at regular and frequent intervals, then this may be a sign that your labour is imminent. Midwives consider a woman to be in established labour if they experience three or four contractions within a 10-minute time frame. It is advisable to consult a midwife or trained health professional if you are having contractions more frequently.
If your waters break, this can also be an indication that you are about to go into labour. However, if you are unsure, this article offers the following helpful tips.
- Put on a pad to absorb the leakage
- Determine whether any contractions are occurring
- If your discharge has a strange colour or smell, call or go to the hospital
Even if it’s clear fluid, if it doesn’t stop for more than an hour, you should contact your midwife or local maternity unit.
2. You can choose your own birth method
When it comes to your preferred method of childbirth, although the midwives will provide advice and support, the final choice will be yours. Nevertheless, your particular circumstances at the time of birth may dictate the method used. There are various options available, including:
- Home birth – two midwives will take care of you and help with the birth
- A hospital or birth centre but led by midwives
- Hospital obstetric unit – although an obstetrician leads the medical team, you will mainly be taken care of by midwives
If you decide to give birth at home, you will usually be on familiar terms with your midwives. Also, barring any potential complications, most midwife-led deliveries involve vaginal births. You will need to consider all your birth options. For instance, if you are considering an epidural, it is important to remember that they are not available for home births.
Although it is an excellent idea to have a birth plan in place, certain circumstances can dictate the final outcome. For example, you may need to have a caesarean section. If so, this is not a sign that your body has failed you – you are still bringing a new life into the world. In fact, if a caesarean section has been recommended, it is usually to ensure a safe delivery and to protect the wellbeing of both mother and child.
3. Ensure your birthing partner is supportive
When planning the birth, it is a good idea to set expectations and it is vital that your birthing partner knows all about them! They can help in a number of ways, such as:
- Give you drinks during labour
- Provide regular snacks or meals
- Calm your nerves with music
Your midwife will also support your partner by answering their questions and making sure they are involved. They should accompany you to appointments and antenatal classes and relay any concerns they might have. Furthermore, the midwife will be able to tell your partner:
- What to expect during childbirth
- How they can support you
Midwives can also prove to be excellent birthing partners. They can help you relax by giving you massages or by applying aromatherapy oils.
Make an appointment with your midwife
As soon as you find out you are expecting, you should arrange an appointment with your midwife, preferably before you are ten weeks pregnant. During this appointment, the midwife will schedule your antenatal check-ups.
Remember, midwives have heavy schedules so you try not to miss an appointment or turn up late.
At least a day before the appointment, make a list of any questions you want to ask. Your partner should also make a list of their own. If your midwife says something you don’t quite understand, don’t hesitate to speak up ... you need to ask as otherwise the midwife will assume that you understand what they’ve said. Whatever you need to know about your pregnancy, your midwife will be able to provide you with detailed and reliable information.
After you give birth...
It can take between 4 and 24 weeks for a baby to establish predictable movement patterns. They like to move around and this is a healthy thing. If the baby is still barely moving by 24 weeks, you should call your midwife immediately. It’s better to be on the safe side and ensure everything is okay.
If this is your first time giving birth, you can expect labour to last quite a long time. However, the second and subsequent births are usually much quicker. Whatever your situation, it is a good idea to think of giving birth as a marathon rather than a sprint. Hydration is vital during labour and energy drinks can help keep your sugar levels up. Remember, giving birth is a precious moment that you will want to cherish forever so try to relax and enjoy the experience.