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Navigating OB/GYN Visits After Trauma: Understanding Midwives' Approach

May 20, 2024

Navigating OB/GYN visits can be daunting, especially for individuals who have experienced trauma or are survivors of sexual assault. Understanding midwifery and its holistic approach can be helpful for those seeking trauma-informed care.


The difference between OB/GYNs and midwives

OB/GYNs are medical doctors specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. They often manage high-risk pregnancies, perform surgeries, and provide medical interventions. Midwives are trained health care professionals specializing in pregnancy, childbirth and women's health.

Midwives emphasize holistic care, focusing on emotional and psychological well-being alongside physical health. Many of them are also trained in trauma-informed care, which prioritizes healing and recovery.

A trauma-informed approach

Pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period can be extremely challenging for many people, and midwives recognize the need for patients to be heard and involved in their own care. By emphasizing safety, trust, and patient empowerment, midwives can reduce trauma's impact on birth.

“Many midwives understand that past experiences can influence a person's present well-being and health outcomes,” said Waverly Lutz, CNM, a midwife at Inspira Medical Group Gentle Beginnings. “They recognize the stress, fear, and anxiety many parents and pregnant people carry with them and the difference a trauma-informed, patient-centered approach can make.”

Holistic support and emotional well-being

Midwives engage in shared decision-making, actively involving patients in their care plans. This collaborative approach fosters trust and confidence, especially for individuals who may feel vulnerable due to past traumas. Midwives take the time to listen to their patients' concerns, preferences, and fears, creating a safe and supportive environment conducive to healing.

In addition to physical care, midwives address their patients' emotional and psychological needs. They offer counseling, support groups, and resources to help individuals cope with past traumas. “By acknowledging the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, midwives promote holistic healing and resilience,” said Lutz.

Midwives emphasis on consent

Midwives prioritize consent in their practices and empower their patients to reclaim control over their bodies and health care decisions.

Unlike traditional medical settings where consent may be assumed or obtained only once, midwives practice obtaining consent at every step of the examination process. From discussing treatment options to performing physical exams, midwives ensure patients understand and agree to each procedure.

“This ongoing dialogue promotes trust and reduces the risk of retraumatization,” said Lutz.

Building trust for better outcomes

OB/GYNs and midwives play vital roles in women's health care and midwives’ compassionate and holistic approach to health care can make a big difference for those with past trauma.

“For individuals with a history of trauma, trust is paramount in feeling safe during medical encounters. By creating safe spaces, providing holistic support, and emphasizing consent, midwives build trusting relationships with their patients and foster a sense of control and agency that improves health outcomes.”

Learn more about our comprehensive midwifery services here.

Topics: Obstetrics & Gynecology, Women's Health