Written By: Michelle Resco, Midwife at OT&P
What is a Midwife?
A midwife is a licensed healthcare professional who provides care for pregnant women and their babies during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Midwives are trained to provide comprehensive care for women throughout their pregnancies, including offering support and guidance on nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle choices. They also provide care during labour and delivery and offer postpartum support to help mothers and babies adjust to life after childbirth. In addition to providing direct care, midwives also play an important role in educating and empowering women to make informed choices about their health and well-being.
What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?
When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, there are a lot of different terms and concepts to know. Two such terms are midwife and doula. So, what is the difference between a midwife and a doula? While both midwives and doulas provide care and support to families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. there are some key differences between the two.
Midwives are medically trained professionals who provide care to pregnant women and have the skills to conduct deliveries. Training is formal, recognised, and extensive and includes hospital placements on labour units. Competency, knowledge, and skills are regularly assessed. Midwives are trained to recognise any deviations from normal and act accordingly (especially in an emergency). Midwives have a high level of accountability to the health system they work in as well as to the nursing and midwifery authority of the country. Midwives are usually required to uphold standards by signing up to a professional code of practice. To maintain registration with a licensing body they must achieve a set amount of education and practice hours every year.
Doulas, on the other hand, are unlicensed, and may not have had any formal training. They are care givers who provide support and guidance to families during pregnancy and childbirth. They are not qualified to carry out medical care or procedures.
Where can I find a midwife?
There are a few different places where you might be able to see a midwife. One option is to go to a midwifery clinic, or you can see a midwife in the comfort of your own home with a planned home visit. This is becoming increasingly popular, as it can provide a more relaxed and comfortable environment for the mother.
What happens at a midwifery visit?
During a clinic visit, the midwife will first assess the mother and baby's general wellbeing. This will involve a physical examination, measuring the mother's blood pressure and pulse and testing her urine sample. She will then check the baby's size, heart rate and position. An ultrasound might be done. The midwife will ask about the mother's symptoms and any concerns she may have. After the initial assessment, the midwife will provide advice and support on any issues the mother is experiencing. In advanced pregnancy, the midwife will also talk to the mother about her birth plan and any concerns she has about the birth.
At a home visit, a midwife will examine the mother to ensure she is recovering normally after the birth, and that any stitches or wounds are healing well. She will also weigh and assess the baby. A visit will typically include advice on breastfeeding, sleeping, and general care of the baby.
The home visit is an important opportunity for the mother to get support and advice from a professional. It is also a chance for the midwife to get to know the mother and baby, and to build a relationship of trust.
Should I see a midwife in the private or public sector in Hong Kong?
A midwife in the public sector in Hong Kong is employed by the government and works in a hospital or clinic. A midwife in the private sector is self-employed or working in a private clinic or hospital.
The main difference between a midwife in the public sector and the private sector is the level of autonomy. A midwife in the public sector is more likely to be working in a team environment and following hospital guidelines. She will work according to service demands so may have time constraints and difficulty providing individualised care. A midwife in the private sector has more autonomy, freedom to make decisions and the ability to tailor care and time to the individual needs of the mother. In the private system midwifery care is continuous, with the woman seeing the same midwife for every visit.
Tips to make you feel at ease when seeing a midwife
When seeing a midwife, there are a few things you can do to prepare and make yourself feel at ease. First, it's helpful to have a list of questions or topics you want to discuss ready in advance. This way, you can make the most of your time with the midwife and get all the information you need. It's also a good idea to have a general idea of what you want to achieve during the visit - for example, if you want to discuss your birth plan or any concerns you have. Finally, try to relax and be yourself - the midwife is there to help and support you, so there's no need to be nervous.