Jaxson’s pregnancy was different in so many ways, not just because he was a boy and I felt physically different than with Anna and Savannah, but because of the care I chose during pregnancy. After two pregnancies with OBGYNs, two hospital births, two pitocin inductions, and two episiotomies I wanted something different. Not just in how I envisioned the birth to be, but in the attention and care I got through the 9 months as well. I did see an OBGYN during the first trimester to ease my fears after losing our twins last year and my visits there only confirmed my desire for something more. Sure, the doctor was nice but I was tired of waiting 45 minutes just to be seen for 5 minutes . Tired of tests I was told I needed to do. Tired of feeling like just a chart and not a person. So, I took advantage of The Pregnant Woman’s Rights and I switched when I felt comfortable that Jaxson was going to “stick” and be healthy in the beginning of my second trimester.
I had actually been researching midwives to use since I found out I was pregnant in 2009 with the twins so I had already decided who I wanted and where I wanted to deliver. My midwife, I’ll call her D, works with a birthing center completely separate from the hospital and only consists of licensed midwives. It took Mark a little while to get used to the idea of not using a hospital for fear of the “what if’s” but once he met D he began to trust her as I did. The birthing center was a stepping stone in a way for us, it was a way to get the completely natural experience I wanted like a home birth would be, but it wasn’t our home (which we both weren’t ready for). The differences between the OB and midwife care was apparent from the very beginning, even back in 2009 when I would email her questions about my miscarriage.
1) I loved that I could email or call her directly if I had questions or needed anything. I called her a million times to inform her about contractions starting or stopping, to ask about cold remedies, questions about baby movements, my family concerns when I was overdue, etc. 2 weeks postpartum I still call her with concerns about Jaxson or postpartum things. It is so nice to get a quick response and not going through nurses, waiting hours for phone calls back.
2) I have only ever had her for my care and she was there the entire labor/delivery. D was the one who did my prenatal appointments and I knew she would be at my delivery. No doctor rotations, no hoping you get the doctor you like when you go into labor, no doctors popping in and out when its convenient for them, no hoping the nurse you get is a good one. So because I had her for every appointment and through the entire labor we both got to know each other much better than a typical doctor/patient.
3) Which brings me to my next point that prenatal appointments lasted much longer than a doctor appointment. Actually, technically it would be shorter since I practically never had a waiting time to be seen. But, meaning she was checking the baby and we were talking for good 20-30 minutes. I loved there wasn’t a rush in-rush out feel with her, she took her time. And again, having this extra time let me (and Savannah since she came to all my appointments and was often included in checking on the baby) get to know D more on almost a friend level.
4) I had options and could make decisions. In typical OB care, you are told what tests to take when, what shots or blood work you need, what the baby needs after birth, etc. as “preventatives,” regardless of whether you or your baby is at risk for the issue or not. I loved that since I had no sugar in my urine or any other signs of gestational diabetes, I didn’t have to get the test done! I also had the choice at 28 weeks if I wanted to get the rhogam shot as a preventative in case I had a car accident or something that would cause my blood to mix with Jaxson’s since I am RH-. Having had two other pregnancies, I thought I needed it or something horrible would go wrong and at first I was going to get it just in case. But honestly, the price of the shot (over $100) made me think twice about it…why spend that money if we don’t need it? D helped me do the research and I asked several professionals their advice and all said it wasn’t needed during pregnancy (even a hospital labor and delivery nurse and a wife to a doctor!). And IF something happened, like a car accident, I still had a window of opportunity to get the shot. In the end, I chose not to get the shot during pregnancy (but needed it after birth and I did take that one) and while it was hard at first to let go of the doctor mentality that something horrible would go wrong…I’m glad I had that choice and glad I made the choice I did.
5) The atmosphere was so much more relaxing! Though the birthing center is in a business building, when you walk in it is very homey. Especially the birthing rooms, they are set up as bed rooms you would have at home with real furniture, dressers, colorful bed linens, painted walls, curtains, etc. No uncomfortable hospital beds, it was so nice to share a normal queen size with Mark and Jaxson after delivery. I’m sure it was much more comfortable than the hard couch/bed thing Mark had when Savannah was born! The prenatal room was the same way, a twin size bed rather than those hard paper covered doctor tables. There was also much less people around since the midwives split up their days in the office, so it was quiet even during the day.
6) The attention I got from D in all areas was different. Not just her being there when I needed something, but during visits she asked questions that went beyond what doctors seem to care about. She had me pay more attention to my diet by writing down what I was eating for a week, every visit she asked if I was drinking enough water, she cared about how I was feeling emotionally in the weeks after birth, she encouraged me to let my self rest and recover after birth (not climb stairs, not get out of bed for 24 hours, etc.) and let others take care of me. Our visits just feel much more in depth and, well, personal. I’m definitely not just a chart number any more.
7) My labor(s) and delivery were what really marked the difference though. Like I said, it was such a peaceful and relaxing environment. The lights could be turned low how I wanted them. I could move into positions that I wanted rather than being stuck in the bed with IV’s. I was encouraged to eat and drink as much as I could rather than being starved with only ice chips to eat, “just in case” I ended up with a c-section. When it came time to push I chose what position felt the best and I was able to be in the birthing pool. The only time D told me to change positions was when Jax was taking a while to fully crown and she knew gravity would help, so I moved from a semi-reclined position to squatting to standing. I also didn’t hear “PUSH PUSH PUSH!” a million times like you hear on TV. D knew my body needed time to breathe Jax down by itself first to prevent tearing so she didn’t encourage me to actually try to push until the very end. She also didn’t do an episodomy like the previous doctors did and let my body tear naturally (which ended up being 2 small shallow tears that didn’t need stitches, much better than episodomy recovery!). I loved that she let my body do what it needed to do rather than forcing it (same for during pregnancy, I would have been hooked up to pitocin or had a c-section after my stalled labor if I was at a hospital).
8) After birth was also a huge difference. After D unwrapped his cord from his neck, he was immediately passed to me and he stayed with me. No rough rubbing to clean him off or make him cry, it was very gentle and calm. We did skin-to-skin contact for hours afterward and we were encouraged to breastfeed as soon as possible (with Savannah she was taken away and it was 3 hours after birth before they brought her to feed!). Jaxson wasn’t weighed until probably 2 hours after he was born, until I was ready to let him be checked out (which is why he popped 3 times before he was weighed, so he probably was more than 8 pounds at delivery). He didn’t get the goopy gunk in his eyes, since I knew I didn’t have STD’s or an infection for him to contract (again with the choices!). Like I said before, all 3 of us were able to rest in one comfy bed and when I was finally feeling some-what better after my blood loss we were able to go home after only 12 hours of arriving the night before.
I could write much more I’m sure, but that’s the gist of the midwife experience I had. Of course, experiences vary from person to person, from different midwives or issues that may come up. For me, it was amazing in every way (even with the frustrations of weeks in prelabor!), from the beginning to present. I’m so happy with the choices I made and the outcome, I feel much more “complete” in my birthing experience than I did with Savannah. I got the natural approach to pregnancy and birth I wanted, I have a healthy son, and I feel like I’ve met yet another goal of mine. I did it!
Would I do it again this way? Absolutely. (Update: And we did! Ashlyn was born at home with D and baby #4 will be as well. We love our midwife!)