We joined in conversation with Hayley Oakes, a Los Angeles-based Licensed Midwife and Certified Professional Midwife, who explained how midwives help create positive pregnancy experiences and birth outcomes. Hayley also shared valuable insight as to why an increasing number of women are seeking midwifery care today—and how to create your own “super birthing team”. Read on for more midwife wisdom, and keep in mind— if you think hiring a midwife might be right for you, you can register for yours with Little Honey Money. It just might be the most valuable gift you receive.


  • LHM

    What is a midwife?

    HO

    A midwife is a healthcare professional who is trained and skilled in caring for and managing low-risk pregnancies, labors and births and supporting mothers and new parents during the postpartum period.

  • LHM

    How is a midwife different than a doula?

    HO

    A midwife is medically trained and licensed—dependent on the state where she practices—and serves as the pregnant person’s primary care provider throughout pregnancy and during the first 1-2 months postpartum. A doula is a birth attendant who offers emotional, physical and informational support measures and coping techniques to the laboring person during childbirth. A doula does not have medical training nor does she perform any medical tasks like cervical dilation checks, blood pressure monitoring etc. She also will usually provide some postpartum support and lactation education.

  • LHM

    How do midwives and doulas support a birth together?

    HO

    The midwife-doula dynamic can act as a super birthing team! The doula usually will attend a labor sooner than the midwife and can act as a liaison with the midwife prior to her arrival to a home birth setting or before the laboring family arrives at the birth center or hospital. When working together at a birth, a doula is another very helpful, informed and knowledgeable person to be there as continuous support to the laboring mother or extra set of hands to the midwife allowing the midwife to focus on medical tasks and reserve some energy for the moment of birth and the immediate postpartum.

  • LHM

    Should every pregnant woman think about hiring a midwife, regardless of their birth plan and setting?

    HO

    Yes! In the U.S., OB-GYNs are the customary primary care provider during pregnancy and childbirth. They are trained in pathology and to be able to treat diseases of pregnancy and perform surgery. So, if your pregnancy is high risk, then this is the appropriate care provider to have. However, most women and pregnant people are low-risk and will continue to have very healthy, “normal” pregnancies and births. With this high rate of doctors managing most pregnancies and births, we also have a very high rate of cesarean sections and rising rates of maternal deaths in this country. Midwifery care serves to complement the medicalized model by providing more education, discussion and informed decision-making for each family. This kind of preparation and support can lead to more physiologic births without much need for intervention—as well as more positive experiences. In fact, there was a study out of the University of British Columbia that found that access to midwifery care led to lower rates of preterm labor, cesareans and newborn deaths.

  • LHM

    When is the ideal time during pregnancy for an expectant family to select their midwife?

    HO

    As soon as they are pregnant! There are so many questions and concerns prior to the standard first visit at 10-12 weeks of pregnancy and it’s so reassuring to have access to a healthcare provider who can offer individualized answers and support and not go down a Google wormhole of anxiety and fear.

  • LHM

    What is the best way to find a midwife?

    HO

    In the U.S., midwives serving as primary care providers are more commonly found in a birth center or home birth setting. However, there are some hospitals that have midwives on staff who you would see when you arrive at the hospital in labor but you wouldn’t necessarily have met them during the pregnancy.

  • LHM

    Have you seen an increase or decrease in demand for midwife care in the start of the pandemic?

    HO

    There has definitely been an increase in demand for midwifery care and interest in out-of-hospital birth settings since the start of the COVID era. I think for the first time people really considered what it was for us to be birthing healthy babies in institutions where people are primarily sick. This scared a lot of people—so much so, that it put home birth on the map a little more. However, this fear of hospitals was not reason enough alone to encourage someone to birth at home, but still, many emails and phone calls came in which led to essentially educating a lot of people about the safety of home birth and midwifery care. That was actually pretty amazing. And for those continuing to see an OB-GYN and planning a hospital birth but feel their telehealth visits, in between their in-person ultrasounds, are even more impersonal, that is when midwifery prenatal care comes in and can be so helpful for expectant folks.

  • LHM

    What’s the biggest misconception first-time parents have about birth?

    HO

    The notion of trusting the birth process without any preparation “because women have been having babies for thousands of years and have just squatted in the field, so they can probably do it too”. Birth is an incredibly physical, mental and emotional event—one that requires training, education, and a lot of support. A person would never show up to the start line of a marathon not having prepared or begin climbing Mt. Everest without a sherpa or guide. When you familiarize yourself with the birthing process, there is less fear, more trust and a smoother experience overall—especially with the right caregivers with you along the way.

  • LHM

    What inspired you to become a midwife?

    HO

    With my background in psychology, I have always been fascinated with the mind and its expression of feeling, memory and thought and specifically that of a child. In my late teens, I watched a documentary called What Babies Want, which explores the growing research in perinatal psychology – the consciousness of babies while in the womb! It was a formative film and the reason I studied psychology, became a doula and later a midwife. I knew I wanted to be a part of the earliest phase of a person’s life and help make that transition to this world, and thus the experience of the birthing parent, as safe, nourishing and a positive experience as possible.