Friday, April 27, 2012

my decision to use a midwife...

I found out we were pregnant with our first after we had been married only four months. Shocked was an understatement. I always knew I wanted to be a mother - someday. The mister and I had plans to be married for about two years and then try to have a baby - we knew we wanted to be young parents and didn't want to wait too long to start a family. But the Lord in all his magnificent timing proved us so wrong.

But neither of us had any experience with children. As in, neither of us had ever even changed a diaper! I babysat older kids while in high school but that was more of playing baseball outside or watching them ride their bikes... nothing to do with changing diapers, spit-up, bottles.

So after I got that positive on that test, I went to google. What exactly are you supposed to do after you find out you're pregnant? Well, you find a doctor. I did a quick search for doctors in Lexington. I just used the free clinic throughout college and since I was not a student anymore I hadn't found a doctor of my own. I called a local place and just told them I was pregnant and I guess I needed to make an appointment? I was so clueless. 

The lady on the phone was so nice. She told me congratulations! and asked if I had a preference and I told her I was open to anyone - I figured if I didn't like them I would just choose a different doctor the second time. I got the positive when I was four weeks pregnant, my first appointment was not scheduled until eight weeks. And we didn't tell a soul we were pregnant until after we had an honest to goodness confirmation from  a real doctor. Let me tell you, that was one long month!

Well, little did I know there were three midwives at this particular practice and she scheduled me with one of them. I always knew I wanted a natural birth for various reasons, and so I think it was really just a God thing that I got scheduled with a midwife. and since I had gone the midwife route - I saw each of the midwives at one appointment or another.

My appointments looked just the same as if I had a doctor. Each time I got my weight, blood pressure, and urine checked. I even thought about scheduling an appointment with a doctor to see what the differences were. (Luckily a friend told me midwives typically spend more time with their patients then doctors - so I probably would have just been disappointed!) But, they would listen to the heartbeat and then just ask what questions I had. I think one of the biggest differences in a doctor and a midwife is the midwife listens to you  more. You get as much say as you want (unless medical intervention is necessary, in which case the midwives I'm familiar with practice under an obstetrician... should you need that). Of course there are some excellent doctors that are an exception. But I am blown away by how many women I've heard say, "My doctor said I had to be induced." "I had to have a c-section for this or that reason." or whatever. I didn't want any doctor to tell me that... I wanted to be able to trust my doctor/midwife would keep my best interest at heart and not make a decision regarding my body and baby based on her schedule or personal preference in any way.

When we got later into my pregnancy I of course expressed my opinion to have a natural birth. Our son was breech until 37 weeks so I would have had a c-section had he not flipped. Let me also just say... it's about impossible to try to mentally prepare for a c-section while also prepping as much as possible for a natural, epidural-free birth.  But she told me she really believed he would flip - and if not by 39 weeks she recommended I see a chiropractor who specialized in pregnancy and had a very high success rate of getting breech babies to flip. Luckily that wasn't necessary! But she was very supportive of my decision and just told me we would see how my labor progressed and what I needed when the time came. I think she wanted to be sure I wouldn't feel disappointed in myself had I made the decision to have an epidural.

Now if I had requested an epidural, that would have happened. I actually had a very, very long labor and considered it very strongly at around 8cm. And my midwife was there to talk to me about that - if it was something I wanted, she would make it happen. She also reminded me that I was very close to having my baby and I had done such an exceptional job. She even told Michael that I was the nicest pregnant woman in labor she'd ever seen... something I may be a little proud of, too. :) It all encouraged me to keep going and I am so, so, so thankful that I did and I had the support of my husband and such a great midwife behind me.

A big difference, too, between doctors and midwives is I feel like is after 36 hours of labor... no one ever told me that things weren't progressing quickly enough. I took up an entire room in the labor and delivery section of the hospital for over an entire day and no one rushed my progress. The baby was healthy, I was tired but hanging in there and there was no reason to pump drugs into my body. I will mention I did have Stadol  - It helped me take a 30 minute nap and after zero sleep for two days I am everso thankful that that was an option. I remember falling asleep asking the nurse, "how long does it take to...." and I was out. So, I say take the drugs if you need them - but if you don't want them... don't let anyone force them on you or talk you in to them. Just be sure you trust your chosen provider to keep your interests in mind - not what would be more convenient for them. (As in if you have an epidural, that slows down labor, then they give you Pitocin to speed things back up... faster then your body may actually be ready for).  

I had our son on a Sunday, the following Monday there were 30 babies born - 24 of them via c-section. That rate is absurdly high and I feel like with more than one of those cases the doctor probably said you're not progressing quickly enough, the baby is in distress or SOMETHING and forced a c-section. That just breaks my heart. This is totally my opinion, I don't know if the doctors actually said those things - I can only imagine they must have for the number of c-sections to be so high. Of course I am thankful for the medical advances of our day and realize they have saved lots and lots and lots of women and babies lives... but they need to be done only when they're necessary, not because they're more convenient. For our country to have a c-section rate of 34% that screams that something isn't right.  We need to trust our bodies more and perhaps trust some doctors less. I found a quote once that I loved and I haven't forgotten. "We have a secret in our society and it isn't that labor is hard... it's that women are STRONG." I can't remember where I heard it first, but it is so, so true and I just love it.

My midwife opened a practice of her own and I was very excited to continue to be a patient of hers. She no longer delivers at the hospital where our son was born so I will be delivering baby girl at a different hospital this time around. One that actually was recently entirely renovated and is less than a mile from our home. But my appointments still look almost exactly the same as they did the first time around. If I need an ultrasound, though, that is scheduled under the obstetrician that my midwife practices under but that's not been an issue so far. The hospital and my midwives practice are less than 2 minutes from each other!

The most important thing you can do for yourself and for your baby is just be educated. It's a totally personal preference to use or forgo an epidural or other drugs or to use a midwife or doctor. Unfortunately there just aren't many people these days who are in support of natural births. I cannot tell you the number of people who said to me after expressing my desire for a natural birth, "Oh you just wait..." "Yeah, you say you don't want an epidural now..." When all I wanted was someone to say, "Wow, that's awesome... I wish you the best." But only a handful of women were encouraging about that decision. I would mention I didn't want an epidural and people would do nothing but look at me like I was nuts and try to discourage that decision. That's one reason I try to be so supportive of women who are interested... because it is such a beautiful thing. I don't want to force my opinion on people - because like I said - it's a totally personal thing. But if a women mentions to you it's something she's interested in... don't discourage her! Because it is hard work and she needs people rooting for her. If it's something that didn't interest you... that's fine! But don't push your opinion on her or make her feel like she's a fool for not choosing your route.

Just think about what you want for you and your family. Ask your doctor/midwives what their take on certain issues such not using epidurals (I've heard stories of doctors refusing to even consider delivering a baby without an epidural) or pushing in different positions is. (I have a friend who's doctor would not deliver her baby unless she was on her back.... just ridiculous!) But do your research and just trust your body and your own instincts.

Michael and I watched the Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake and we both HIGHLY recommend it. It is just really, really encouraging and gives you some insight into just how rare a natural birth is - in fact many doctors and med students in the video had never even seen a natural birth! Of course the video is a little one sided - but it being the side we're both on - we were totally in support of just about everything. I recommend watching it just to realize what you agree with or don't agree with. I also read a LOT. Probably too much - but the point is - just educate yourself. 

Another quick thing worth mentioning - it costs the same to use a midwife or a doctor in both situations I've been in (with two separate practices). Pretty neat! I can't imagine not having my midwife now... I'm so thankful for that lady who answered the phone and made me an appointment with her over three years ago. I can't say enough good things about her! If you have any questions... please send them my way. I love this stuff :)


  1. I just love how much YOU love this stuff. Thank you for sharing--I feel I need to bookmark this to come back to it one day! I so love that you and Michael go the natural route and I do hope that when that time comes, I'll be able to deliver naturally as well. I am super proud of you and definitely root you on! I agree that it is a very personal decision and however you choose to parent is your own decision. One thing I'm learning is that sometimes as women we do more damage to our own gender than anything--I hope we can learn to support each other through our differences whatever they may be. We have enough naysayers via the media, let's be on each other's team in real life!
    *Stepping down off the soapbox now..sorry!

    So thankful for you friend and I appreciate you sharing!

  2. Oh my goodness, Faith, I totally agree! Instead of respecting our differing views I feel like we as women only feel the need to explain the reasoning behind our own personal decisions whenever there are differences - rather than just listening or supporting women with differing opinions. Which really only pushes us further apart from one another. I notice this primarily with child related things - but it's so true in so many other areas, too. I agree - we should totally be on each others team in real life - even if we disagree, hopefully we can still be able to support one another without passing judgement because someone didn't use our own personal preferred route. I don't think you were on a soapbox at all - I completely agree with you!

  3. It was so nice to read your story and how you made your decision to use a midwife. It's crazy to think about that there are still some states that don't allow midwifes! Nebraska just recently changed their laws and allows them now and my husbands dad actually works very closely with them and helped them get started at the new birthing center they built. I'm using a doctor mainly because she was recommended to me but she has been very helpful and very supportive of my decision. I haven't decided either way on an epidural only because I don't want to dissappoint myself one way or another so we are in agreement (me hubby and doc) that I will go as far as I possibly can and we'll just see what happens. But I refuse to be induced unless absolutely necessary and luckily having a doctor in the family helps me to determine when that would be. I think its awesome you were able to do it naturally and I hope the same for this next little one you have. My sister in law had a baby naturally in decemeber and I got to experience most of her labor with her and it really changed my way of thinking when it came to epidurals it really is just an amazing miraculous experience! So I guess in all that I want to say thank you for sharing and good luck I'm sure you'll do wonderful once again!

  4. It is so refreshing to hear your perspective. I recently went to a TIPQC conference "Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care" and listened to an MD lecturer from California. He spoke on the increase of maternal morbidity/mortality due to C-sections. He said another hospital in his city had a 70% C-section rate... which is truly not safe. I completely understand the need for intervention if the baby is stuck, not tolerating labor, or other disease processes, but I think we need to go in thinking vaginal birth unless something happens.

    At our hospital, we have a large midwifery practice, and they come very well recommended. It turns out that not only do they have a low c-section rate, they have a higher breast feeding rate as well compared to the MDs.

    Kudos to you Melissa and I wish you luck as you get closer to meeting your newest little one.