Marvellous midwives

This month, as we celebrate International Midwive’s Day, we take a closer look at the remarkable profession of midwifery, which is much more than just a job, but a calling.

Professionally trained and highly experienced private midwife Cheryl Rowe has been in private practice for over two decades. She is passionate about helping every woman in her care experience a birth she can remember and cherish forever.

Birth is often accompanied by fear and trepidation and midwives like Cheryl aim to eliminate that, rather bringing mothers through labour with excitement and anticipation, knowing that both they and their babies are safe.

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Having trained at Addington Hospital in 1986, Cheryl specialised in midwifery in 1993, working in traditional labour wards for a number of years. “I gained valuable experience in the management of complications in pregnancy and childbirth, but I also realised there must be gentler options for the birthing mother with a low risk pregnancy.”

She started her midwifery practice, Cheryl’s Gentle Births, 21 years ago. She had two unmedicated waterbirths at home herself, strengthening her belief in a woman’s right to choose the type of birth that is right for her.

So, what does a private midwife do? “A private midwife is trained to care for uncomplicated, healthy women during pregnancy and assist them during active hospital births, water births and home births. She is trained to detect problems, both in pregnancy and in labour, in advance, and refer timeously should the need arise,” says Cheryl.

Where an obstetrician/gynaecologist is the expert in managing abnormal, high-risk pregnancies and deliveries (and will therefore routinely deliver their clients using high-tech, high-intervention methods), Cheryl says private midwives are considered much more of the experts as far as active birth goes. Fully supported by an experienced team of gynaes and specialist sonographers, the mantra of ‘safety first’ is always adhered to. During active phase of labour, the mother is encouraged to remain upright and mobile, often shortening labour significantly and reducing the risk of needing a c-section, forceps or vacuum delivery.

“Private midwives focus on the physical and emotional needs of the expectant mother. What affects the mind affects the body! We also have a very family-focused approach and dad is not the only one allowed in the delivery room. Birth plans are encouraged as each pregnancy and labour is unique and we use natural methods of intervention (mobility, gravity, homeopathy) to stimulate a sluggish labour, start an overdue one and provide the mother with pain relief.”

Cheryl says mothers may also use narcotic drugs should the need arise. “All options of pain relief are available to you, including epidural, however 95% of midwife-assisted births need no drug intervention.” She says narcotic medication is only offered to moms in hospital, to reduce the risk of side effects.

When it comes to the experience for babies, Cheryl says they can and do experience pain and trauma during birth. “Private midwives take measures to ensure a gentler transition from womb to world. Dimmed lights, minimal noise and gentle handling are encouraged and baby is placed skin-to-skin with mom or dad for the first hour.” There is also postnatal support, with visits either in hospital or at home to assist with breastfeeding and do physical checks on both the mom and baby.

Her main goal, Cheryl says, is always to ensure that the mother experiences a wonderful birth, whether that be a natural birth or caesarian section. “I truly believe that it is just as possible for a woman who has an emergency caesarian to feel like she has had a wonderful birth as it is for a woman who has her baby at home. The key is not what happened, but that you were able to participate in the decisions taken and make an informed choice.” Details: Cheryl’s Gentle Births: 031 266 9952, 083 288 8203, [email protected]

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