The role of childbirth is, quite literally, fundamental to human life. Every single year, nearly 150 million babies are born. Despite different languages, cultures and customs, the universal understanding of life and the healthcare that ensures its survival, can be found in every country on the planet.
Some women may choose to embrace natural healthcare and birthing practices and others opt for more contemporary approaches. Regardless, the advances of modern medicine and healthcare are transforming the process of pregnancy and childbirth alike. Yet there are still major advances that are needed: roughly 5 million (3%) of the 150 million babies born each year die within the first year of life.
While there can be an armada of professionals tasked with ensuring a healthy, safe delivery, there are some healthcare workers that contribute more than others. Today, let’s examine six professions in particular that play pivotal roles in a healthy pregnancy and infancy.
Once upon a time, midwives could be found in virtually every neighborhood in the world. These important caregivers helped guide mothers through the complexities of pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery care. While many developed nations have since seen a rapid decline of traditional midwifery, these healthcare professionals can still be found in hospitals, home and other healthcare settings.
Midwives most notably help to ensure safe and effective birthing practices are utilized, whether it be at the mother’s home (where an otherwise high risk of complications could occur) or in the hospital. The roles of a midwife ultimately include providing assistance with a variety of other tasks before, during and after pregnancy: they can assist in making appointments for mothers, providing reproductive care exams, and teaching new mothers how to care for their infants.
Ultimately, the presence of midwives in today’s society helps ensure fewer mistakes are made. This in turn increases the likelihood of a healthy birth.
Millions of babies are born every single year worldwide with complications. Some are caused by last-minute health risks during delivery, while others are congenital or genetic in nature. Regardless of the cause, these babies need intensive post-delivery care that often requires them to remain in the hospital for a period of time. This is where neonatal nursing becomes such a valuable profession to the miracle of life.
A variety of BSN and DNP neonatal degree holders practice in hospitals throughout the world. Neonatal nurses not only look after special cases where medical attention is required post-birth but also tend to otherwise healthy babies during their first few hours of life.
Neonatal nurses earn great salaries, making it a very appealing career choice for many. The earning potential of a DNP neonatal graduate can easily exceed $100,000 per year in the right circumstances.
While midwives play a crucial role in the delivery of many babies, so do obstetricians. These qualified healthcare professionals work with women during their pregnancies to monitor the progress and health of infants. An obstetrician will provide a variety of services, including ultrasound sessions, advice for proper diet and exercise, and assistance with delivery.
Just like for DNP neonatal graduates, the world of obstetrics pays well but requires ample training. Given that this role is a doctor-based role, completing a medical degree program after passing the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is required; it can take eight years of training or more to become an obstetrician, but salaries routinely reach $300,000 per year for seasoned doctors.
Given the sheer risk of mortality during the first year of life, the key to healthy and happy babies doesn’t just involve a successful pregnancy. Pediatricians step onto the front lines of service once babies are born, treating these newborns (and children of all ages) when they are ill.
Pediatricians focus on managing a variety of sicknesses and illnesses, whether it be a common cold or infection. It is common for pediatricians to also provide immunizations to young children in accordance with local laws and regulations. Pediatricians can be found in a variety of healthcare settings: hospitals often have on-site pediatricians, but many also operate their own independent practices.
Working with both babies and parents, pediatricians ensure that optimal health outcomes can be achieved regardless of the situation.
While the direct healthcare consequences are easy to consider, sometimes the health and happiness of babies can extend far outside pregnancy, delivery, hospitals and doctor’s visits. The reality is that a growing percentage of babies are born into living situations that are not safe or conducive to healthy development: this requires the aid of social workers.
Social workers have a wide variety of responsibilities. First and foremost, it is the goal of social workers to ensure that babies can remain with their parents in safe and healthy situations. If this is not possible, however, then the job of a social worker pivots to placing the child into a more suitable living environment.
Social workers often also work alongside many of the other professions mentioned on this list, including DNP neonatal professionals and midwives. Ultimately, social workers have the best interest of babies and children at heart, which requires them to make difficult decisions at times.
The health and well-being of babies and children in the home aren’t guaranteed unless the health and well-being of everybody is addressed. This is why the profession of family counseling is so vital to long-term health outcomes. Family counselors work with parents and other family members to address a plethora of needs and concerns, including mental health issues and psychological challenges.
From postpartum depression to tensions in the home among siblings, family counselors help prevent potentially dangerous and irreversible actions from boiling over in the home. This ultimately helps minimize the chances that harm will occur to a newborn.
There are many reasons why family counseling may be necessary, but the addition of a new member to the family can create especially tense situations for all involved. As such, family counselors indirectly help keep babies happy and healthy by addressing the needs of those around them.
A team of seemingly unrelated healthcare workers all comes together as part of a greater whole to provide genuine care and assistance to newborns and their parents. By doing so, these six professions are on the front lines of ensuring that babies have the best chance possible at growing up to be happy and healthy.