The midwife (men in this profession are called obstetric nurses) is the person who can advise and care for a woman equally well before, during and after childbirth. In Germany, midwives conduct births completely independently; in fact, by law, they are the only ones allowed to do so. A doctor must always consult a midwife; only in an emergency is he allowed to conduct a birth without a midwife.
Midwives are usually either employed by hospitals or freelance. Freelance midwives may also either join a doctor’s office, or, often several of them, manage a birth center.
Many pregnant women do not know that they can also receive complete care during pregnancy from a midwife instead of a gynecologist. She performs the examinations, the results of which are recorded in the maternity record.
If the pregnancy is normal and goes smoothly, there should be no need to see a doctor. However, if health concerns arise, the midwife sends the pregnant woman to the doctor immediately to rule out any danger to the unborn child and the mother.
Midwives handle all aspects of preventive care for pregnant women and their children. They monitor the health of mother and child, recommend preparatory courses or even conduct them themselves, and help parents decide on one of the various birth methods. In problem-free pregnancies, births in a birth center or even a home birth are possible.
During the birth, they support the mother and decide whether a doctor needs to be consulted. A midwife can solve many problems on her own, but if a Caesarean section is necessary, she consults and assists a doctor. After the birth, the midwife examines the newborn child and also the mother.
Mothers are also accompanied by midwives during the postpartum period, who monitor the healing of delivery injuries and the involution process. Midwives are also the best people to turn to for tips and information on breastfeeding and caring for the newborn. They are also trained to recognize mothers’ problems and offer them help, be it from their social environment or partnership, but also depression.