“Every Birth Is So Powerful”: Insights into Everyday Life as a Midwife

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Preventive examination at the birth center in Rosenheim: Julia Aerzbäck is pregnant with her second child. She is lying on a double bed in the comfortably furnished delivery room. Colorful curtains, candles, aroma lamps and dim lights create a calm and pleasant atmosphere. Midwife Bettina Eilhardt sits with the pregnant woman. First she feels the belly, feels the size of the uterus and how the baby is lying on the belly. She then uses ultrasound to check the baby’s heartbeat using a small handheld device. The little heart beats. The mother-to-be smiles.

“The midwife is the most important thing for pregnancy and birth”

Midwife Bettina Eilhardt and Julia Aerzbäck have known each other since their first pregnancy and birth. It immediately became clear to Julia: she would like to give birth to her second child again in the maternity hospital, outside the hospital. One of the peculiarities: the woman receives comprehensive care, from pregnancy to childbirth and postpartum, by the same midwife.

Julia Aerzbäck finds this individual service “completely enjoyable”. Birth is always a surprise anyway. But the birth center gives you security. Because she already knows the place, she knows that her midwife Bettina will welcome and support her. “It’s very good, I can only recommend it to everyone. I think the midwife is the most important thing for pregnancy and birth.”

The hometown of Rosenheim focuses on naturalness and tranquility

The hometown of Rosenheim has existed for almost 25 years. Around 2,600 babies have been born here. The team of midwives is small: there are six who take care of prenatal care, courses and the postpartum period. Also for women who do not give birth in a birth center.

Just three of them Midwives provide birth assistance. One of them is Bettina Eilhardt, who appreciates the naturalness and tranquility of out-of-hospital births. “Our greatest safety is not to intervene in the birth process, but to accompany it. This is very important to us because we know that childbirth is easier if the woman moves freely. all.”

A peaceful start to life

Babies are born outside the hospital, without painkillers, without anesthesia, without a cesarean section and without a doctor. But with the midwife’s individualized care, you already know. Theresa Donauer, who also works at the Rosenheim birth center, refers to studies by the Society for Quality in Out-of-Hospital Obstetrics. “We always have very good numbers outside the hospital. Children born here have the same performance as children born in the hospital. the numbers show and we are always very grateful for that.”

Julia Aerzbäck is also looking forward to the birth of her second child in a few weeks. Because she has great memories of her first child. What she particularly likes: “You give your child a peaceful start in life. You can hug and come first. They don’t need to be removed or examined immediately.”

Inadequate payment, almost unaffordable responsibility

Bettina Eilhardt is also grateful for all of this. She loves her work as a self-employed midwife. Despite being on duty, 24 hours a day, on Sundays and holidays. Despite many night births, despite the sometimes low salaries, despite the extremely high amount of responsibility of more than 12,000 euros per year, which she first has to earn as a freelancer.

Despite all these restrictions, she is radiant when talking about her work in motherhood. “It’s so wonderful to be able to experience each birth here. Every birth is so powerful, every birth is different. center is for “It’s a good alternative for many women. The clinic here in Rosenheim is just 500 meters away. We have a good relationship with each other.”

Good cooperation with nearby clinic

16 percent of women who wanted to give birth in a birth center or at home in 2022 had to be transferred to a clinic during birth. This is demonstrated by the figures from the “Society for Quality in Out-of-Hospital Obstetrics”. 99 percent of these transfers occurred calmly, only one percent involved an emergency situation.

A team of 17 midwives works in shifts at the Rosenheim hospital. One of them is Brigitte Schuster. She or one of her colleagues is present when the transfer from the maternity ward to the hospital takes place. The entire team is on duty at the clinic 24/7. And when a transfer occurs, everyone is present: the midwife, the doctor on duty, the senior doctor and often the pediatrician.

Often, says Brigitte Schuster, it is fortunate that the birth is completed “normally”, that is, through a spontaneous birth. In the hospital, unlike the birth center, there is the option of painkillers. This brings relaxation to many women and then the baby is born naturally.

Midwifery course for several years

RoMed Rosenheim is a so-called “level 1 hospital”. This means that midwives here also take care of births where everything doesn’t go according to plan. Unlike the birth center, here there are stillbirths, extremely premature babies or seriously ill newborns.

This, says pediatric nurse and midwife Barbara Vodermaier, is also one of the reasons why The midwifery profession has been academic for a good four years It is. Since January 2020, midwives have no longer completed their training, but rather a bachelor’s degree, which is offered at nine universities in Bavaria. Midwifery schools can still complete their training courses by 2025. The demands on midwives have increased dramatically, says Vodermaier.

At the Rosenheim Clinic, two midwifery students per year complete their practical training. A win-win situation, says midwife Brigitte Schuster. Young students learn a lot, but experienced midwives also learn new things that their young colleagues bring with them from their studies. And according to Brigitte Schuster, the students are “very, very popular” among pregnant women. Midwifery students also undertake part of their practical training at the Rosenheim birth center.

The midwife’s work continues after birth

The Akgül family is holding a birth review with midwife Elisabeth Steer. Little Sarah was born at the birth center in early March. Her parents, Eva and Mikael, fondly remember these special moments. They came to the birth center and immediately felt comfortable. The birth and the hours that followed with their newborn daughter were very intimate. They felt no shame and felt at home.

Elisabeth Steer cared for Eva during her birth. Even after that, the midwives continue to be contact people for the young family. For example, for breastfeeding, aftercare for mother and baby and also postnatal recovery. Eva has great respect for her midwife Lisi and her colleagues: “What they do, what little free time they have, they are always on call. But they never give the feeling of being stressed or being the fifth person of the day. In Instead, they always have 100 percent time for one. That’s very, very good.”

Call for more midwife-led obstetric care

So that this unique care provided by midwives can benefit even more women in the future, the Bavarian Association of Midwives calls for even more midwife-led rather than doctor-led obstetric care as part of hospital reform. In other words: only midwives should be responsible for healthy and normal births, not only in out-of-hospital births, but also in hospitals, in so-called midwifery delivery rooms. They are available in Nuremberg, Dillingen, Kulmbach, Munich and, from today, also in Vilsbiburg.

Unlike usual birthing rooms, according to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, births in midwives’ birthing rooms often take place without medical interventions such as labor painkillers, episiotomy or cupping. Because in the midwife’s delivery room, individual care is guaranteed. And according to the midwives’ association, this care is the best guarantee for a safe and natural birth.

Midwife Sylvia Pellikan, who after working in a clinic now also works on the team at the birth center in Rosenheim, points out that many people do not know that the midwife is the person responsible for the birth, not the doctor. “A midwife must be present at the birth. A doctor is not authorized to direct the birth alone. The midwife is only required to call a doctor if the birth does not go well.”

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