Exploring Midwifery During A Pandemic

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With thousands of births held this past year with only the mother present in the delivery room due to COVID-related restriction in hospitals, my heart goes out to all the women delivering their newborns without the presence and support of their closest loved ones. All completely understandable given the context of the world today.

This year must have taken an extreme emotional toll from each of these families in a myriad of ways, on top of the tangible consequences the pandemic has wrought on their own personal relationships.

Having a team of medical professionals present to give their reassurance as mothers welcome their babies through this magical and miraculous experience, I hope has been enough to lend the necessary comfort that a birthing mother must surely need during this precarious and special time in their lives.

On top of the potential loneliness these mothers may have felt, my heart goes out to the fathers and loved ones as well, who could not bear witness to, and be present for, the arrival of their newborn offspring. The arrival of children are always a blessing, and in normal times already considered an event anticipated and special, even more so held against the backdrop of these unprecedented times, could only provide a shining glimmer of hope for what the future still holds.

From personal circles alone, the number of first-time mothers that gave birth during the pandemic reached the dozens, with each having their own harrowing tale of what their personal experience was like in the months leading up to the birth, up until the actual long-awaited day. Already a tackle in itself, and added to it additional protocols in place to curb the spread of the virus, one can only imagine the anxiety the whole process could have elicited.

Hearing their accounts struck the author a curious question of whether there could have been another way? Could this separation they endured, that while I’m sure made them stronger, have been mitigated? Could there have been options where birth could have been held inside a health-care facility, but outside a regular hospital, that at present have been faced with hordes of COVID-related cases, while still in the secure hands of birthing professionals?

This got the author to researching about the options available to mothers outside of the traditional hospital setting. The Yale School of Medicine recently released a short course on Midwifery, that tackled common misconceptions surrounding this practice: it’s slow eking out from the mainstream due to the rise of hospital-led healthcare, and the socio-economic factors that led to the preconceptions that we have of it today.

With the desire to streamline the birthing process, and make sure all procedures necessary to make most medical processes as smooth as possible, such as housing specialists of many fields, numerous state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, and a host of other services, hospitals sought to provide a level of care unseen before its conception. With this unprecedented event however, what was seen as a unique solution to a long-begrudged problem, now seemed to be its very downfall.

Could decentralizing a critical procedure like giving birth, and exploring midwife-led or -supported procedure be a worthwhile, maybe even advisable option to consider for some?

Taught by a team of doctors, midwives, and various healthcare practitioners, Yale’s School of Medicine course sought to explain how midwifery led to more spontaneous natural births, less cesarian births, less medication prescribed to the mother, lower neonatal deaths in countries that had a strong midwifery practice, and more holistic care for the mother and infant before, during, and after birth.

An enlightening course in its entirety, and certainly relevant to all, we would highly recommend this to everyone with an open mind who is willing to explore alternatives to a hospital setting.

Keeping in mind that this option of giving birth with only the midwife, may not be advisable in all cases, the authors intent is to spark curiosity over its long-ranging benefits to the mother and child’s overall well-being before, during, and well beyond birth.

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