Do Midwives Deliver Babies in the Hospital?
By Dorothy Cam, MSN, CNM, WHNP – BC, Midwife—Virtua Midwifery – Camden
You’ve chosen a midwife for your pregnancy care. This means a midwife will see you for your prenatal visits in their office. This includes performing exams, ordering and reviewing lab work and ultrasounds, and prescribing medications as needed. You and your family will work with your midwife to prepare for the birthing experience, transition into parenthood, and the postpartum period.
Midwives can attend births (deliver babies) at home or in freestanding birth centers. However, most midwives attend births in the hospital. Attending your birth means your midwife is an invited guest to the experience, guiding and supporting you in trusting your ability to birth your baby.
Regardless of where you deliver your baby, midwifery care promotes pregnancy as a healthy experience. Your midwives share their expertise while ensuring that what’s most important to you and your family is at the center of your care.
What is it like to have a midwifery birth in the hospital?
Midwives embrace pregnancy and birth as an unrushed, natural experience centered on trust—in your body and your baby.
When you’re in the hospital, a midwife will discuss with you and your support people what you want your birth experience to look like and how the midwife can support you through labor. This can include strategies to cope with contractions without medications, including massage, position changes, birthing balls, wireless fetal monitors, and hydrotherapy in a warm shower.
If you choose to use medications, such as epidural for pain management, your midwife will still manage your care and can modify your labor strategies to continue to encourage your baby to move down in the pelvis and help labor progress. Then, when you begin to push, the midwife is present to encourage you and catch your baby. The midwife can also perform vaginal repairs and prescribe medications to prevent hemorrhage (heavy bleeding) if necessary.
After birth, a midwife sees you each day until you and your new baby leave the hospital. In that time, the midwife can help you ease common postpartum discomforts and guide you in how you've chosen to feed your baby (breastfeeding or bottle feeding).
If you have a cesarean birth, a midwife continues to be a part of your care team. Your midwife can be a familiar face in the operating room while assisting the surgeon during the procedure.
Midwives also recognize that your support people are essential to your birth experience and love to include them in your care. This might be your partner, family member, friend, and/or labor doula. We can teach them how to provide massage or counter pressure, ask them to put on your favorite song and dance with you, or encourage them to feed you snacks and sips of water to make sure you are well-supported during your labor.
Our ultimate goal is to hold space for you to have a birth experience during which you feel safe, seen, and heard.
What are the benefits of midwifery care?
Studies show that midwife-attended births are linked to better outcomes for birthing people and babies, including lower rates of premature births, cesarean births, and newborn deaths. Midwife-attended births are also associated with lower use of epidurals, fewer episiotomies, and higher rates of vaginal births. New Jersey is ranked 4th in the United States for integrating midwifery into health systems to create higher quality maternity care.
Most importantly, midwives can continue to care for you throughout your reproductive lifespan. Engaging with a midwife for your pregnancy care can be the start of an enduring lifelong relationship.
Get to Know Midwife Dorothy Cam, MSN, CNM, WHNP – BC
Dorothy Cam’s goal as a certified nurse-midwife and women’s/gender-related nurse practitioner is to apply a reproductive-justice lens as she cares for people during their reproductive lifespan. Improving maternal, child, and community health in disenfranchised communities has been her focus throughout her career. Dorothy previously served as a community health worker in Philadelphia, La Paz, Bolivia, and Boston. She is a first-generation degree holder, having completed her health care education at the University of Pennsylvania and a degree in sociology and religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her culturally rich upbringing led Dorothy to learn and speak five languages (in varying levels of fluency), including English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Teo Chew. Dorothy is excited to catch babies at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and bring the joy and person-encompassing care of full-scope midwifery to Virtua Midwifery – Camden.
To learn more or schedule an appointment with a Virtua midwife, call 856-247-7440.
Updated May 17, 2022