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More mothers choosing midwives to deliver at UT Medical Center

The head of the hospital's Women and Infants Center said it is preparing for one in ten babies to be born with midwives soon.

The World Health Organization has declared 2020 the "year of the nurse and midwife." 

At the University of Tennessee Medical Center, it's a program that is growing fast. 

Jodie Simms-MacLeod leads the hospital's five midwives. 

It's a small team, in growing demand. 

"I think a lot of people are looking for a different type of healthcare, a more personalized form of healthcare," she said. 

The UT Medical Center's midwives have a Master's in their field. They provide complete gynecological care to women pregnant or not -- from conception through menopause.  

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When it comes to babies, midwives deliver instead of physicians. 

"Midwives don't perform surgery, so if anything was to arise during labor where a patient needs like a c-section, then there's always a physician on call 24/7," Simms-MacLeod said. 

Midwives aren't the same as doulas who provide emotional and physical support to mothers during labor. 

They are medical professionals that specialize in low-intervention births, but they can and often do give medication like epidurals. 

"Midwives are known to have lower c-section rates and increased breastfeeding rates," Simms-MacLeod said. 

But she thinks it's the way midwives provide care that attracts moms. 

"We tend to be more relationship-focused and we really try to provide more individual holistic care," she said. 

The University midwives average about 12 babies a month, she said. Right now, Tennova's midwifery practice is operating out of the hospital. They deliver 40-50 babies a month but will move to the birthing center at Tennova North in Powell when it opens next year.