By Naomi Benson • Poland Spring Academy

Three hundred years ago, all births took place at home with the help of an older woman or female family member. However, in the early 1700s, male doctors started becoming more popular. When hospitals came along, many families began thinking they were more safe. By 1960, 96% of all births took place in hospitals.

During the 60’s and 70’s, several movements began to get the attention of the public and direct them into the interests of the art of midwifery. The hospitals tried to make their birthing services more attractive, which helped them, but the budding interest in midwifery started to catch on, and more and more women started having their babies at home. Now in Maine, for every 16,000 births every year, about 200 take place at home. Most of these have a midwife attending.

Many studies have been performed since then to see what the safety and outcome differences were between hospitals and home births. The majority show a big difference – home births had much more successful births and were much less likely to end up going to the hospital to get a cesarean section or other medical help.

The goal of a midwife is to help the mother give birth naturally – giving her encouragement and support every step of the way. All midwives either study in a school to get certification, or do a blend of self-study and apprenticeship under another midwife.

My goal is, within the next few years, to be practicing as a midwife. Under Jan Willson from the Hope House and Pregnancy Support Center in Lewiston, I have received my doula certificate (labor support partner), and I am also an “apprentice” under her, working to become a midwife. Why do I want to be a midwife? I find it is an awesome way to serve women and help them to joyfully experience this gift God has given them. I also love to watch the miracle of babies being birthed into this world. It is an awesomeexperience that all married couples are entitled to, and I feel honored to be a part of it.

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