…And my midwife makes three

October 1 | Guest post by Erika

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I'll be honest, my motives for seeking out natural childbirth started many years ago and sprang from a very rational fear of gigantic needles. I was scared senseless by the idea of a lightning rod going into my spine, and thought the pain of childbirth had to be preferable.

I realized this was silly, and slowly worked my way to an uneasy tolerance of needles. As I resolved my needle abhorrence, I looked again at childbirth. This was years before I actually got pregnant, mind you, but I became obsessed with researching labor and birth. I read birth stories online, watched The Business of Being Born, and asked as many pregnant women as I could find about what it was like.

The more I filled my head with childbirth, the less I feared it. It changed for me, into something natural and empowering. The direct result of this change was that the idea of an epidural no longer made sense to me. I felt strongly that my body was made to bring a child into the world, and I wanted to feel every minute of it (as ridiculous as that may sound to those of you who have actually experienced contractions).

When I brought this up to my OB-GYN, he surprised me. I'd been seeing him for about four years, and thought for sure he would deliver my children. When I asked him how he felt about natural childbirth, he looked uncomfortable and said, "I support it, but I don't really see the point."

That's when I strayed.

I started looking into other options. I considered hiring a doula for the labor, but ruled this out when I added up the cost of a doula as well as the cost of a hospital birth. I considered going it alone, relying on my husband and mother for support, but put the kibosh on that when I realized neither of them has helped a laboring woman before and it could all end in disaster.

I knew I didn't want to do a homebirth, so I looked into using a midwife and having the baby at a birth center. I fell in love, and I fell hard. When I looked at the cozy birthing suites, I could totally picture myself surrounded by candles in the giant jacuzzi tub. I could easily envision laboring in a relaxed environment where no one would try to hurry me along. Most importantly, I could visualize myself succeeding in having the birth I've been working toward in that environment.

I booked a meeting with one of the midwives at the center and she was everything I wanted a midwife to be. Warm, compassionate, enthusiastic about babies, and knowledgeable. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she'd be able to help me through my first labor, and furthermore that I wanted her to be there.

My husband and I looked at each other after the meeting and we simply knew. And just like that, my vision of giving birth changed from my husband and I in a hospital room to my husband and I and my midwife in a birthing center suite. My husband and me, and my midwife makes three.

I called my OB-GYN and broke up with him the next day. I told him it was nothing personal, I'd just found someone else. Someone who saw the point. We're on excellent terms, and he respects my decision (even though he doesn't like it). Now I have a new care provider, and let me tell you. It's exactly what I hoped it could be.

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  1. Great post, Erika. I am really committed to the idea of doing this on my own terms, too, and we are lucky enough to live near a hospital that doesn't even DO epidurals, and has a C-section rate less than 10% (when the national average is 33%!). We knew immediately when the midwife said "of course you can do it – you're a woman" that this was the right place. Kudos for dumping your doctor who just didn't get it.

    2 agree
    • Thank you! It's amazing how much of a difference it makes when your care provider believes you can do it! Good luck with your upcoming delivery! 🙂

    • Ashby, I hope you see this. What hospital IS THAT? It sounds like a dream. If you say that its in the US I will not only fall over in shock but melt into a happy oblivion that somebody somewhere GETS IT and can 'GET THE POINT" even in a hospital! oh my you are talking paradise.

  2. Fantastic post! Thank you for writing. I've been looking into alternative birthing methods as well right now and want to be super comfortable with what we're doing before I get into it, because like you, needles (esp. IVs and giving blood) freak me out! i would love to hear more about your experience

  3. Thanks Erika! I have also opted for a midwife-assisted birth. I have so far had 2 appointments with her and I look forward to our future visits and her assisting my birth. She is so much more gentle and personable than the OBGYN was and she makes me tea! What's not to love?

    • That's awesome, I love tea! Makes me yearn for the days when I could afford to go to a nice salon and sip wine while my hair was dyed a fresh shade of red 🙂

  4. Best of luck with everything! I had both of my children at the hospital but tried for as little interference as I could (especially with the second one!). Know what you want and go for it.

  5. I'm envious! I had an OB/GYN that was totally pro-natural birth but I found out too late that the hospital she was associated with wouldn't do breech deliveries. I found out at 36 weeks that my daughter was breech, so my birthing center plans went out the window! This second time around, I've found an OB/GYN based on my doula's recommendation; she is pro-VBAC and so is the hospital! Looking forward to reading your birth story on these pages soon!

  6. I would suggest to anyone wanting a doula, but having a hard time scrapping the money together for one, to seriously consider a student doula. Many students will come to your birth at a reduced rate or even free. It can be a little scary (for mother and doula!) to have a new doula attend your birth, but we've all got to learn sometime and students often can't become certified without attending at least three births. Consider making a choice based on the connection you have with a doula, rather than the number of births they may have attended.

    It is one of the most disheartening things in the world, as a birth worker, to hear from mothers who can't afford a doula. Every woman who wants a doula should have one.

    2 agree
  7. That's just glorious 🙂

    We are going the same route as you… a midwife in a birth centre, and we've also employed a doula for extra support… I'm really excited about it!

  8. This is a fantastic post and hopefully the option I will be taking when I do get pregnant.
    Unfortunately for Australian women it will be potentially our only supported alternative (and then only for non rural women) now that the Government will effectively end the right to Midwife supported homebirth in July of next year.

  9. Excuse me? "I support it, but I don't really see the point." That is totally unacceptable behaviour from an OBGYN. How can you support natural childbirth and not see the point. In fact, scrap that, how can you NOT see the point of natural childbirth? Shame on him.
    I am in my final year of medical school and am hoping to enter the field of Obs and Gynae, it is my opinion that you have absolutely no right in entering the field of Women's health if you don't understand and support the importance of natural childbirth. Of course, they are situations when either the mother or baby is at risk and at that point medical intervention is needed, but in an otherwise normal healthy pregnancy there is no justification for not fighting tooth and nail for a natural birth for woman (if that is what they choose).
    Our bodies were designed for the purpose of giving birth. During labour our bodies produce natural pain relief and for most woman the pain is nothing more than they can handle. Breast feeding after a natural birth is often easier to establish because the process of labour and all of the hormones released stimulate milk production. They are less complications because without an epidural woman can actually feeel what they are doing and find it easier to push.
    I am ALL about prochoice and I accept that for some woman pain relief is a better option and I absolutely support the right to choose what woman want for their labour.
    However, I do not support OBGYNs who have no interest in suppporting woman to make decision that are right for them.

    1 agrees
    • I wish you lived in my area and were my OB/GYN. I know when I finally have insurance again, it's going to take a a long, long time to find one that has a low c-section rate, because honestly? I fear c-section, not because it's surgery but I want to breastfeed, and they often won't let you have your baby with you after major surgery, and they'd have to restrain me from getting up and following the nurses to the nursery so I could be with my baby.

    • We need more OB/GYNs like you! My old OB/GYN was pro-natural birth but when my daughter's breech presentation was discovered, she told us upfront that she had never done a breech delivery and had never seen one! I think it's a shame, and I hope that you will have the opportunity to witness a successful breech delivery, and maybe even assist in one!

    • We need more OB/GYNs like you! My old OB/GYN was pro-natural birth but when my daughter's breech presentation was discovered, she told us upfront that she had never done a breech delivery and had never seen one! I think it's a shame, and I hope that you will have the opportunity to witness a successful breech delivery, and maybe even assist in one!

  10. Congrats on your decision to hire a midwife! I will be having a home birth with a doula next time around. My first was an emergency induction (due to pre-e) and my second was in the hospital but I labored at home, with my partner and doula. In fact, I was the first completely natural, no intervention birth my nurse had ever seen. And that made me so sad. Anyhoo, we couldn't really afford a doula either, but I emailed all the doulas in my area and found one who was willing to reduce her fee by 50% and have her apprentice attend. So, I got 2 doulas for half the price!! I would highly recommend getting a doula also!!! I have had many women say they couldn't decide whether to spend the money on a doula or child birth classes and everyone I know recommends a doula. Plus, since you are not doing a hospital birth and birthing centers are usually MUCH cheaper, you may be able to afford a doula afterall! Good luck! I can't wait to here your birth story!

  11. I had a natural birth attended by a midwife (at home) and it was AMAZING. I love that you recognize that a woman's body is made to bear life, and giving birth is not something to fear. I wanted a doula as well — I should have asked my midwife if she knew any student doulas, like a commenter above suggested.

  12. Perhaps because we have socialised medicine but in New Zealand most pregnancies (like 78%) have midwives as their care provider, and are only refered on to an OB if there are complications. You can of course pay the $5,000 to have your care done exclusively by a private OB but most parents don't tend to want to cough up the additional fee when if you really will need one then you'll get refered anyway.

  13. congrats on making a decision based on what feels right for you! you won't regret it.
    and thank you for using my picture too : ) i feel very proud , especially on a post about a topic i feel very strongly about. i have epilepsy and had to struggle against the opinions of neurologists and ob-gyns (not to mention friends and family) to get the birth i wanted and not just go with what was being handed to me. i am so, so glad i did, we have had two awesome homebirths and could not be happier!

  14. having the care of midwives in a birth center was the best! they understand the laboring woman needs to be left alone to do just that- labor, just as our bodies were made to do. we feel very blessed to have had a natural birth under the care of loving midwives.

  15. I just watched The Business of Being Born the other day with my FH, and even though conception is a looooooong way off for us, we both decided we loved the idea of a natural, at home birth (if we can).

    What baffles me is that doctors are so against natural birth when my mother delivered all three of us kids without any pain killers whatsoever. Had no problems. In fact, my older brother came so fast, that she ended up delivering him right at home with the firefighters who made it just in the nick of time! He was delivered in the hallway! I only ended up being born in a hospital because my dad insisted my mom go in at the very first contraction! Lucky mom, I was still delivered before anyone had a chance to call grandma. I can only hope that my future births will be so easy!

  16. congratulations on getting someone you connect with! i had midwives for all three of my kids, but the first two were midwives that worked in the army hospital where we were and really weren't any different than the doctors and nurses. however, with my third i had a CPM assisted homebirth and it was fabulous. not just the birth, but the whole pregnancy. it was so awesome to be treated like an actual human being and not just like a broken down machine. you CAN do it! i love that i stuck to my guns and had two totally natural births. it gave me such a sense of empowerment and i felt like i was connected to all the women who had birthed before me and would come after me. like a thread in a tapestry or something. that probably sounds crazy, but i really did feel that way.

    • Seriously, I totally relate to how much nicer it is to be treated like a human being! My first midwife prenatal appointment was so different, but in such a good day, that I left that appointment glowing!

    • Seriously, I totally relate to how much nicer it is to be treated like a human being! My first midwife prenatal appointment was so different, but in such a good day, that I left that appointment glowing!

      And no, you don't sound crazy at all 🙂 I can't wait to experience that feeling!

  17. Wow, I really relate to this!! I'm definitely a few years from having kids, but I recently became interested in birthing and how it all works, and have been fascinated by the huge continuum of highly medical-ized vs natural birth. It's so surprising to me how many people think that the only safe way to have a child is in a hospital, with drugs and surgical implements. Obviously, this stuff is necessary for women with complications, but people seem to want to turn even the healthiest of births into a medical procedure. I think that birthing centres attached or very close to hospitals seem like a great way to get the best of both worlds – comfort and control for the mama, but close enough to get her and the baby to a doctor if something were to go wrong. Good luck!

  18. I'm a really lucky Australian. I've had two separate natural births in my local public hospital, it has a midwife program where you only see a doctor if there's a problem. The birth suites are comfortable, with different labour options (bed, gym ball, yoga mat, firm foam wedge), ensuite with extendable shower head, and different light settings. They have a home visit policy where you can have free home visits from a childhealth nurse or midwife if you live with in 30 minutes of the hospital. My favourite bit is that the hospital policy of a 6 hour minimum stay meant that I was able to take my girls home the same day and sleep in my own bed. The staff were shocked when I informed them I wanted to go home after my eldest was born, but one of the doctors told me he was pleased because normally its hard to get new mothers out of the hospital. With my second child, I didn't even see a doctor until she was a few hours old and getting her pre-discharge check. The midwives are friendly, encouraging and helpful, I really wouldn't go anywhere else.

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