After a positive pregnancy test, many Belgian women immediately call their general practitioner or gynaecologist for a 15-minute consultation. Midwife Lieve Huybrechts explains why midwives often take more than an hour and why couples choose this approach.
In Belgium, it is not yet common for women to choose a midwife to accompany them during pregnancy and childbirth. If the pregnancy test is positive, the first reaction is a telephone call to the general practitioner or gynaecologist. During the following consultation, the pregnant women receive confirmation of their pregnancy and a list of subsequent consultations at the hospital or the private practice of the gynaecologist, alternating with a few consultations with the general practitioner or a midwife at the hospital.
What many couples do not realise is that the chance that one of these care providers will also be present at birth is small. Let alone that they will be available during the first hectic maternity weeks.
Moreover, the information given to couples often depends very much on the hospital’s specific protocol. When you compare the protocols of different Belgian hospitals, you notice that there are many differences and that they are not always based on scientific insights. The ease of routine for care staff and the idea that everyone should receive the same care play a major role in this. Many couples expecting a child follow this routine and feel comfortable and safe with it. But not everyone has the same shoe size.
As a midwife with 42 years of experience, I have often come across such couples. Women and men who had different expectations of care around birth compared to what is standard. For example, they asked critical questions, but experienced that there was little time and interest in the hospital to listen to them, look at other options or deviate from protocols.
When these people then end up with a midwife, the contradiction is great: there is room to discuss all the couple’s questions, to look at all the phases in front of them calmly and to explore the possible options together. To see how they want to fill in their personal path.
A first consultation often takes an hour and a half. The next half an hour to an hour. Expectations of the expectant parents are discussed and the midwife gives information about the available guidance. Together they discuss what would suit them. Attention is paid to the experience of pregnancy, the pursuit of health and a lot of time is devoted to preparing for the birth and parenthood. A midwife does not only focus on the physical, she can use her knowledge to guide you through the whole process – also mentally. A good listening ear is one of the greatest qualities of a midwife. Future and new parents who are accompanied by a midwife know that they can always count on their midwife if there are questions or concerns.
Recent studies have therefore shown that individual counselling by a trusted midwife is not only perceived as pleasant, but that women are also much less likely to experience complications and interventions during pregnancy and birth.
In short, what can you expect from care by a trusted midwife?
- Coherence in care instead of fragmented care. Because you see the same faces, a bond is built up and mutual trust grows.
- The information you receive is tailored to you
- You as a pregnant woman and your family are at the centre of care instead of the routines and organisation of a large institution.
- You get personal care with a midwife who really gets to know you and makes time for you
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