SOUTH BEND — A growing number of women are choosing not to use a doctor during childbirth. Instead, some women are using a midwife.
Brooklynn is a healthy 6-month-old. Her older sister Madison is two. Both were born without a doctor nearby. Their mom, Bethany Hochstetler, wouldn't have had it any other way.
"That is the way I want it to go every time," says Hochstetler.
She is one of a growing number of women choosing a midwife over a doctor for prenatal care and labor and delivery.
"I like the idea of 100 percent natural. No pain killers. No hospital gowns. I guess, the old fashioned way. How it was in the Bible," says Hochstetler.
Midwifery does date back thousands of years. These days certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives offer a full range of health care services for women -- including prenatal care and labor and delivery.
According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives the number of births attended to by a midwife has risen every year since 1989.
"We really don't want to rush a process that is natural," says Beverly Lowther, a certified nurse-midwife with Fairhaven ObGyn, "it is a natural process and women are powerful and are made to do this."
Fairhaven has seen an increased number of patients interested in their midwife practice.
The most recent data from 2013 shows 343 births were attended to by midwives at Fairhaven compared with 2011 when midwives attended to 206 births.
Lowther says midwives spend a lot of time with their patients supporting them and educating them. She says midwives follow a model of supporting women in normal healthy childbirth rather than unnecessary medical intervention.
Research has shown that midwifery care results in fewer cesarean sections than physician care for equally low-risk women. Numbers show midwifery care also results in higher rates of breastfeeding.
Local doctors say they support local midwives but emphasize they tend to higher risk pregnancies.
"Since we do more complicated deliveries, take care of breaches and ladies with previous C-sections. Naturally, we are going to have more C-sections," says Dr. Len Ferguson an ObGyn from St. Joseph Regional Medical Center who works closely with midwives.
Still, mom's like Hochstetler like the ability to choose and will opt for a midwife next time too.
While they do pre-natal and labor and delivery most midwives say reproductive care and primary care are their main responsibilities.
More information about Midwives: http://www.midwife.org/Essential-Facts-about-Midwives