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05th May 2016

6 Reasons To Choose A Midwife-Led Birth


In my mind, midwives are absolute angels. Practicing midwifery is definitely a vocation; I have huge respect for their expertise and the compassion and emotional support they offer, often in a very difficult working environment and for not a lot of money.

Some women feel consultant-led care is the ‘safest’ and ‘best’ care during pregnancy and birth because it’s the one you pay for. But this isn’t always true.

Midwife-led care is an option in all Dublin hospitals and in some around the country, either via the MLU (midwife-led unit), via the community midwives team or via a midwife-led clinic within the hospital. Midwives are the primary source of care in home births also.

Here are my top six reasons for choosing midwife-led care:

1. Midwives are highly qualified and hugely knowledgeable

Midwives all have a minimum of a university degree these days and the training here in Ireland is highly regarded worldwide. Irish midwives are sought-after all over the world.

2. Midwives know lots of little tips and tricks to get babies out without medical intervention

Ever heard this one: ‘put your hand down and feel the baby’s head’ or ‘try moving onto your hands and knees’. They’re not just empty suggestions! Midwives know every trick in the book to get our little ones going in the right direction.

3. Midwife led care is just as safe

Many studies have found that midwife led care is just as safe than consultant-led care for women with low-risk pregnancies. If you want to read more on this, have a look at this TCD study which showed that giving birth in an MLU was just as safe as in a consultant-led unit and that these births inevitably involved fewer interventions.

4. Midwife lead care is cheaper

Midwife-led care is free in Irish hospitals and MLUs – that includes Domino care and community midwives clinics. It has also been proven that midwife-led care costs the State less than consultant-led care.

5. You have less chance of taking an epidural, and therefore less chance of needing forceps or a vacuum delivery

That 2015 Irish study mentioned above also found that women in midwife-led units were less likely to opt for an epidural. If your midwife feels you can do it she will encourage you all the way! Epidural can be directly linked to the increased risk of an instrumental birth so the less chance of opting for an epidural, the less chance of needing forceps or vacuum.

6. Midwives are all about supporting you. They want the same thing you want

The traditional Irish term for midwife is ‘an Bhean Ghlúine’ the word ‘glún’ depicting the midwife with the woman, both on their knees, one birthing and one supporting. The English word ‘midwife’ means ‘with woman’. If your midwife finishes her shift knowing that you felt empowered, safe and like you made informed decisions, no matter what those decisions were and no matter how your baby came out in the end, that’s been a great day’s work for her!

Emily McElarney is Hypnobirthing practitioner and pre-natal and post-natal yoga teacher. Find her at or on Facebook. You can read more about the philosophy of Irish midwives here and find fully qualified and highly experienced independent midwives in your area here.