why we switched to a midwife group

I mentioned last week that hubby and I have made the very exciting decision (for us) to switch to a local midwife group for our little Valentine baby, and I want to share with you the experience that solidified our decision and convinced us to make the switch. I’d like to say, as I always try to, that I believe everyone’s experience is different and everyone’s needs and desires are different…so what works for my husband and me may not necessarily work for you. And you could have a completely different experience with your OB than we did. So take this for what it’s worth…our experience…and then make your own discoveries, analyses, and conclusions.

HUBBY
OB:
My husband is completely ignored and no one introduces themselves to him, aside from our actual OB who does include him…somewhat
MIDWIFE: Makes him feel comfortable, welcomed, and asks him for his questions too…she also got him a chair to sit in during our consultation as there were initially only two in the room

WHO CAN DELIVER ME?
OB:
One of eight doctors in the practice, none of whom we can meet except for my OB
MIDWIFE: One of two midwives (possibly three if they hire a third on that they’ve been trying to get in the group) and we will rotate between the two for each visit

C-SECTION RATE?
OB:
About 35%, what we are told is the standard, and what is about the standard for Northside Hospital, which many woman love delivering out of in the metro Atlanta area (many women will call us crazy for leaving this hospital…but I felt crazy staying!)
MIDWIFE: About 8% of their births have to be transfered to the on-call OB for a c-section

THOUGHTS ON EPIDURALS?
OB:
“Well, of course you can deliver without an epidural…but we really don’t see that anymore.”
MIDWIFE: “About 90% of our patients don’t elect to have an epidural, but the option is there if you want it.”

WHAT POSITIONS CAN I LABOR IN?
OB:
Any, but I would have to be prone on my back at the “end”, because the doctor says that’s the “best position for [me] to be in if they encounter a problem”
MIDWIFE: Any position I want to, and they are the only hospital in Atlanta to offer water births and/or tubs to labor in

CONSTANT FETAL MONITORING?
OB:
“Yes. It’s essential. Some old midwifery practices say this isn’t important, but that’s incorrect.” (By now we’re beginning to feel that anything outside the medical “norm” is ridiculed by the OBs here.)
MIDWIFE: Intermittent monitoring is all that’s required in most cases — which to me provides a very important thing — MOBILITY!

HOW LONG PAST THE DUE DATE CAN I GO BEFORE INDUCING?
OB:
7 days. Which is funny, because my due date was pushed back 6 days in the blink of an eye after I measured behind at my first ultrasound. If six days are that easy to add on or take off my estimated delivery date, does it really make sense to only allow my baby to incubate in my belly 7 days past my due date?
MIDWIFE: Up to about 2 weeks…after 1 week after they start doing tests to ensure that everything is okay and we can let the baby keep progressing naturally

FOOD/DRINK DURING LABOR?
OB:
We didn’t get to ask this question. We didn’t get to ask the OB a lot of questions. We were very rushed at our appointment with them.
MIDWIFE: I can eat and drink during labor if and when I want

HUBBY ALLOWED TO CATCH THE BABY IF HE WANTS?
OB:
Didn’t get to ask
MIDWIFE: Yes (and he is actually considering it…COOL!)

CAN HUBBY CUT THE CORD?
OB:
Didn’t get to ask, but I am guessing yes, since I know this is pretty common
MIDWIFE: Yes

SKIN TO SKIN?
OB:
Didn’t get to ask
MIDWIFE: Yes

CAN WE HAVE SOME BONDING TIME BEFORE ROUTINE EXAMS? CAN EYE CARE BE DELAYED DURING THIS TIME?
OB:
Didn’t get to ask
MIDWIFE: Yes and yes

WHEN DOES THE CORD HAVE TO BE CUT?
OB:
Didn’t get to ask
MIDWIFE: I can’t remember the exact amount of time she said but it was NOWHERE near immediate and made me feel comfortable

CAN I LABOR IN MY OWN GOWN INSTEAD OF A HOSPITAL GOWN?
OB:
Didn’t get to ask
MIDWIFE: Yes, as long as I don’t mind if it gets dirty

KEEP BABY IN THE ROOM?
OB:
They do allow this, but I have heard stories about nurses and hospital staff pushing you to let them take the baby to the nursery so you can rest, etc
MIDWIFE: Yes, as long as there aren’t complications that require otherwise, which of course I understand

HOSPITAL ROOMS DURING DELIVERY:
OB:
This is not something we asked, but I have a friend who just delivered out of Northside, and I know they pull the bottom of the bed off, you have your feet in stirrups, and they shine a pin light on your vagina
MIDWIFE: We did ask about this, and while the rooms aren’t as plush and hotel-esque as those at Northside, they do have dim lighting and absolutely do not put you in a bed with stirrups and a pin light — HURRAY!

I know this cross section of conversation between us and our former OB and us and our current midwife runs the risk of becoming a narrow view of the two types of practices, and I don’t intend it to be. This was our experience, and was one in which we walked away deciding that the midwife group would give us our best chance for having the natural, empowering, and peaceful birth that we are desiring. If you take anything away from this post, I hope it’s that you have the power to ask questions, research, and make your own informed decisions. Don’t be afraid to question your practitioner or look around if you aren’t satisfied.

I do recommend the documentary The Business of Being Born to any expectant mother. It is definitely pro midwifery/natural labor but was absolutely eye-opening to me in terms of the history and science it explained to me, and I think there’s value you can take away regardless of your beliefs on childbirth. My husband and I found it supported our inclination to switch to a low intervention practice and made us feel more empowered and informed. If you are interested in exploring a home birth, this is also an excellent resource to begin learning about that. While we did consider a home birth as well in the end we decided it was not for us for several reasons.

So we’ve made the switch. We couldn’t be happier. And we have our next appointment next Monday at 11 weeks. Can’t get here soon enough!

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7 thoughts on “why we switched to a midwife group

  1. I’m so excited for you both!

    We just had our first appointment with a midwife and it was the best “medical” experience I’ve ever had.

    But I totally agree with you that different people need to do what feels right for them.

    P.S. We’re pretty much due at the same time!

    • Erin, I completely agree!!! I have noticed some interesting verbiage in some writing about birth that I respect lately…things like that the birth is “attended” or you are “assisted…” not that they are delivering! I think that’s really a key point! It also reminds me of my wedding ceremony, in which the shamans who married us said that they believed that they were there to witness our marriage to each other…and that we were actually the ones creating the ceremony. Very beautiful distinction in both cases, in my opinion!

  2. Whoo boy! Medicine in the US scares me sometimes. And makes me pretty darn disappointed for my profession. Have you read Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf? She says a lot of good things about this.

    • Hello! I haven’t, but I will have to look it up…right now I am reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, which I have found very enlightening and informative.

  3. Pingback: 22 weeks…happy national midwifery week! « spirit and seed

  4. Pingback: The Top Ten Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Birth Provider | Atlanta Birth Center

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