Midwives grateful for recognition by American Academy of Pediatricians

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POSTED: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 3:58am

UPDATED: Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 10:21am

The American Academy of Pediatricians has given a qualified approval to home births.

The organization issued a report saying home birth is an acceptable way for parents to bring children into the world, but formal guidelines for midwives need to be adopted.

Among the academy's recommendations were having multiple caregivers in the room; monitoring the heart rate and temperature of the newborn; testing equipment before use; planning routes to a hospital in case of emergency; and making sure a phone line is available.

Alina Gardner, a local midwife, says those are some of the minimum precautions she and other licensed midwives take.

"We come with an emergency care plan," she said of her practice. "And every patient has an obstetrician, as well as a midwife.

"If, god forbid, there were a problem with both the mother and the newborn, there is a primary care provider available for each patient."

Approximately one of every 100 children is born at home. Various studies show either a slight or no difference in the health outcome for babies delivered at home compared to a hospital.

Wendy Cottrell said she never considered using a midwife, but had a bad experience while giving birth to her son in New York.

"I was on a clock once I got to the hospital," Cottrell recalled, "and if I didn't deliver within a certain amount of time, they said that I had to do certain things that I didn't want to do."

When she learned she was expecting for the second time, some friends convinced her to look into hiring a midwife. She and her husband were skeptical at first, but Gardner explained that she needed several years of training and education to get her midwife's license, which eased their concerns.

Cottrell also feels that Gardner uses a more personal approach than some obstetricians.

"Because I can call her, I think that helps, too," Cottrell said. "If I was seeing a regular OB, you know, it's not easy to get a hold of them and actually talk to them."

Gardner, who is licensed as a certified professional midwife and as a lactation specialist, believes pediatricians generally like midwives who have her level of certification.

"They're very reassured when they realize that the woman has a licensed, trained care provider," she said. "It's taken a while. About the last decade, people have started to notice that if you're planning a birth at home, that it doesn't mean you're forgoing medical care."

Gardner tests each of her patients to make sure they're healthy enough to give birth at home.

"The licensed midwife, the certified professional midwife are trained to determine if a mother qualifies as low-risk, which would qualify her for a home birth," she stated. "It's done, really every moment, all throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, post-partum."

If the mother does not qualify, Gardner will refer her to a doctor or take her to a hospital. But Cottrell is one of many pregnant women who say a trained, prepared midwife gives them the experience they're looking for.

"I just don't think that birth needs to such a medical procedure," she said. "It's a natural thing, and something that our bodies are designed to do."

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