Midwifery: The Wave of the Future

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Midwifery is the Wave of the Future in US Birth!!

Americans are living in a time when access to obstetrical care is an important topic in politics. Obstetricians are leaving practice in high numbers because of insurance rates which reflect the high number of lawsuits families are filing. This is a sign that the time has come for fellow Americans and politicians to recognize that Professional Midwifery Care has the potential to help resolve many of the concerns American mothers have in maternity care.

How can midwives help the current state of maternity care and cost in the US? The cost benefits are evident of many levels:

Beginning with prenatal care, midwives spend an average of 30 minutes to an hour with their clients at each prenatal. These visits are focused on prevention of potential complications through nutrition and lifestyle education, also, much attention is given to preparation for labor and birth. This attention early in pregnancy reduces miscarriage, fetal development complications, prematurity, and low birth weight babies. Health complications can have a longterm impact on healthcare costs in our country, and can also result in delivery complications which lead to lawsuits which raise premiums.

The next midwifery cost and quality benefit is seen during the labor and birth. Mothers are better educated and prepared for the labor due to the prenatal time midwives devote to explaining the process and options. Midwives also help the mothers deliver vaginally with out the use of instruments and drugs which increase the cost and number of complications in labor and birth. By using a combination of methods like positioning, water, heat, comfort, support, massage, and more, the mothers are able to birth safely and effectively. Use of interventions such as episiotomy and cesarean are greatly reduced under midwife care. These factors add up to a reduction in birth and postpartum risk and cost to the family. The positive outcome and nature of these birth experiences result in fewer lawsuits which ultimately lowers insurance premiums for both the clients and healthcare providers.

The benefits of midwifery care continue into the postpartum. Reduced cesarean and episiotomy incidence means more rest, speedier recovery and less risk of infection for the mother. Also, typically, under midwifery care, mothers are able to begin a sucessful breastfeeding relationship with their baby. Breastfed babies tend to have fewer infections throughout their infancy and childhood. These benefits result in less expense for mom and baby in the postpartum, and continued benefits into the early toddler years. Insurance company premiums can be lower due to fewer emergency room visits, infections, and postpartum complications.

In comparison with the rest of the world, our country ranks 28th in infant mortality rates- despite all of our interventions and technology. Our cesarean rates are mind-boggling at 26%; over 1 out of every 4 women will undergo cesarean surgery in the US. World-wide, the best infant mortality and cesarean rates belong to countries whose primary maternity caregivers are midwives.

Nationwide, Certified Professional Midwives have an astounding infant mortality rate of .02% and a cesarean rate of 3.9%! Another landmark accomplishment under midwifery care is that 93% of the mothers are sucessfully breastfeeding at 6 weeks after the baby is born!

There are considerable potential national health cost benefits of using midwifery care as a primary form of maternity care for low risk mothers. Just using the average midwifery service cost versus the average medical birth cost, $85,000,000,000 (billion) could be saved. If you factor in the potential health savings of reduced preterm labor and low birth weight due to increased prenatal care and education, plus the benefits of breastfeeding and child health, the US health care system could see a total savings of $608,661,000,000!

The cost savings of midwifery care combined with the reduced lawsuit filing experienced with midwives has the potential to greatly reduce the expense of healthcare to Americans. This savings also has the wonderful side-effect of fewer instrumental births, fewer cesareans, fewer infant deaths, and fewer maternal deaths. It is a positive solution for the current maternity care crisis and could significantly impact the health insurance and provider insurance premiums in the United States.

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