Every mother wants the best for her unborn child, and part of this means making the right decisions for her pregnancy and birth journey, particularly when it comes to choosing a professional maternal and birthing care partner.
While obstetrician-gynaecologists (ob-gyns) and doctors are often the first and preferred option, choosing a midwife to support you on this incredible maternal journey has a great number of benefits for mothers, their babies and the well-being of the family unit, that can be considered as an alternative. Dr Justine Greeff, Medical Advisor at Bestmed Medical Scheme, says that choosing a medical practitioner is a good idea in certain circumstances. “A woman would be referred to a doctor or ob-gyn as soon as the pregnancy has been identified as risky or complicated. This is also the case in situations of multiple pregnancies, as they are more equipped to handle a complicated pregnancy from a medical standpoint or perform a C-section where absolutely necessary,” she says. However, in the case of low-risk pregnancies and births, especially where mothers prefer that their care provider takes a warmer and more personable approach to their pregnancy journey, a midwife is a great option.
What is a midwife?
A midwife is a healthcare professional, who is trained to provide obstetric and gynaecological services to mothers from the beginning of their pregnancy journeys to birth and beyond. These services include primary care, pre- and postnatal care and guidance, as well as routine gynaecological care such as pap smears, exams and contraception. In other words, they are trained experts in the fields of uncomplicated ob-gyn care.
In fact, midwives have been far more prevalent in history as the main providers of care and support to pregnant women, and at the time of birth than doctors. Today, midwives can deliver babies at birthing centres, in the comfort of one’s home, or at a hospital depending on the mother’s choice and circumstances.
Services offered by midwifes
For mothers experiencing the joys and tribulations of pregnancy for the first time, midwives are not just trained to provide appropriate care, but also to adopt a warm and friendly approach that tends to ease the fears of a first-time mum. They are just as vital and helpful for “seasoned” mothers, as it gives them greater control and peace of mind when it comes to their birth plan and wishes.
Midwives are also a preferred choice for the valuable roles they play when it comes to ensuring the holistic well-being of mothers – providing emotional support in what is often a mentally trying time for women.
Another benefit is that they can assist you in creating a birthing plan suited to your unique needs, circumstances and desires. Importantly, they will advocate for you in the birthing room to ensure every member of your birthing experience – from doctors and nurses to family members – adheres to your wishes based on the agreed birthing plan, as far as possible and medically appropriate.
Crucially, a midwife knows when to refer a pregnancy to a doctor or ob-gyn, and will do so transparently as part of their commitment to advocating for the health and well-being of the mother and baby.
It’s also worth noting that choosing a midwife for your journey will cost less than a doctor or ob-gyn, even when opting for natural birth. Some medical schemes cover the cost of maternity consultations with a midwife. Bestmed Medical Scheme, for example, covers up to nine antenatal consultations, one 2D ultrasound scan at first and second trimester, and one antenatal consultation, as well as selected prenatal supplements at 100% Scheme tariff.
There is a wealth of benefits in choosing a midwife to support you through the miracle of pregnancy, birth and your post-partum healing journey. Women on any Bestmed option can choose from 37 contracted midwives. Bestmed members can search for their nearest midwife via the Bestmed App or online member portal.