Midwives view pregnancy and birth as a natural process. They are a very common presence at European births. Most midwife-accompanied births occur in hospitals or hospital birthing centres. Generally, a midwife follows you through the pregnancy, is with you throughout the birth, and follows you and the baby for a few weeks after. Rarely will one get this amount of personal care with an obstetrician or family doctor.  Midwives support you in whatever kind of birth you wish to have (hospital, birthing centre, home), they encourage you to make informed decisions about your prenatal (antenatal) care, birth, and care of the baby. They have a gentle, warm and humane approach, and use natural methods and remedies. They are trained to recognize any health issues or complications that are beyond their area of expertise. If such a case occurs, the care is then taken over by a doctor. (The arrangement varies depending on local health-care regulations.)

Clinical studies show that a midwife-assisted birth has better chances of having a shorter labour, less medical interventions, less need for pain medications and women tend to have a better feeling about the birth experience.[1], [2] A newborn in a supported birth has lower chances of having foetal distress and needing medical intervention, and breastfeeding has a higher rate of success.[3]

A home birth with a midwife can be a wonderful way to welcome a baby into life, if you are comfortable with the idea and have a low-risk pregnancy. At home, you are free to create the surroundings you wish, you have complete privacy and, after the birth, you and your baby are in a place much more conducive to rest.  You are much less likely to be rushed during labour or brought unnecessarily into a medical situation, and your baby can be received in a much gentler environment.[4] Studies also shows that planned homebirths are at least as safe as hospital births.[5],[6],[7],[8] But the most important thing is the mother's confidence, that she trust that what she needs will be available, and that she feel comfortable and supported by those around her.

Today, more and more midwife-run birth centres are being created, both in hospitals and free standing. If the idea of a home birth worries you, or if your home seems too far from emergency help, or if it simply isn't possible, but you still would like to have a quieter, more home-like setting, a birth centre can be a good alternative to a hospital. They all vary in setup and in how they are run, so it's worth going for a visit before choosing one.

Midwife Discreetly Helps to Deliver a Child While a Friend Supports the Mother

Aztec Midwife Administering Herbs to a Woman after Childbirth from an Account of Aztec Crafts

To find a local midwife see Birthing Naturally


Prenatal care and tests



[1] University of Washington. Women With Low-Risk Pregnancies Receive Fewer Obstetrical Interventions When Cared For By Midwives, Compared To Women Attended By Physicians. ScienceDaily, 18 April 1997, June 2009, < /releases/1997/04/970418123423.htm>


[2] Butler, Jaida. During childbirth - a friend in need is a friend indeed. Continuous Support During Childbirth. Research News in the Cochrane Library, 8 September 2003, researched August 2009 <>

[3] Symon, Andrew, et al.. Outcomes for births booked under an independent midwife and births in NHS maternity units: matched comparison study. British Medical Journal, BMJ 2009;338:b2060, 11 June 2009, June 2009 <>


[4] Johnson, Kenneth C, Betty-Anne Daviss. Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America. British Medical Journal bmj.330.7505.1416, 18 June 2005, researched June 2009 <>


[5] Janssen, Patricia A. et al.. Outcomes of planned home births versus planned hospital births after regulation of midwifery in British Columbia Canadian Medical Journal, CMAJ • February 5, 2002; 166 (3),  2009, researched September 2009 <>

[6] Wiegers, T.A. et al. Outcome of planned home and planned hospital births in low risk pregnancies: prospective study in midwifery practices in the Netherlands, BMJ 313 : 1309, 23 November 1996, researched May 29, 2011<>

[7] Davis D. et al. Planned Place of Birth in New Zealand: Does it Affect Mode of Birth and Intervention Rates Among Low-Risk Women? Birth Volume 38, Issue 2, pages 111–119, June 2011(Birth, 38: 111–119. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2010.00458.x), researched May 29, 2011 <>

[8] Ackermann-Liebrich U, et al. Home versus hospital deliveries: follow up study of matched pairs for procedures and outcome. Zurich Study Team. BMJ. 1996 Nov 23;313(7068):1313-8., researched May 2011 <>