Call the midwife

How mothers give birth and who’s standing beside them has changed over the years.

Fifty years ago and 50 years from now, babies have — and will continue — to make their way into the world. While mums and dads have always sighed and cried over their little miracles, it’s how mothers give birth and who’s standing beside them that’s changed over the years. Today, modern midwives are highly trained, independent practitioners who work hard to ensure everyone gets off to a healthy start.

One of the most important transformations for midwives in recent times is their qualifications. Previously, calling yourself a midwife was only possible for registered nurses who had completed further training. Now, a midwifery career begins with studying a specialty degree all on its own, separate to nursing. While experienced nurses can still retrain to become midwives with further study, these two professions are no longer thought of as one and the same, which has contributed to the growing autonomy of a midwife’s responsibilities.

Another change to modern midwifery practice is the end of doctor knows best. Mothers now show up to prenatal check-ups with questions — and lots of them — for the midwife. Many mothers-to-be have taken control of how they want to give birth and who is in the room with them. Midwifery as a profession has kept pace with this evolution. Birth as a result has become a more collaborative process, where midwives play a central role and their medical colleagues are kept on standby to provide further care only if problems arise.

Modern medicine and technology has well and truly made an impact on the business of birth. There are large populations of women who previously would have been advised to avoid pregnancy at all costs, such as those with conditions like diabetes or heart disease. Now, many of these women have been given the green light. Thanks to technologically advanced interventions, these women can not only go ahead with a pregnancy, but expect a healthy baby at the end — and a midwife by their side.

Midwives have been educated to handle high-risk pregnancies and have grown their knowledge of how to manage these types of births that just a short time ago wouldn’t have been possible.

Find out more about studying nursing and midwifery at ACU.