At the OB/GYN practice that I go to, it’s routine to see all the doctors, nurses and midwives throughout the course of your pregnancy. The idea behind it is that you never know who’ll be on call when it’s your time to deliver, or if you call after-hours with a question or problem, you will speak to a person who is familiar with at least some of the particulars of your pregnancy.
However, this pregnancy I am skipping a level of personnel at my doctor’s office: the midwives.
I have no doubt there exists countless fabulous midwives, but a bad experience with one has spoiled the rest of them for me.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I saw one of the midwives in the practice during a routine visit, and we discussed pregnancy nutrition and the various restrictions. I particularly asked her about eating salmon– which variety was best and how often I could safely eat it. That’s when she told me I should be sure to stay away from salmon, and instead, eat as much tuna as possible.
I’m not professionally pregnant nor am I a pregnancy expert; I have babies to add to my family, not to preach to other women how I do things with the expectation they should do them the exact same way. Often times there is such thing as better or worse. But sometimes there is simply a right or wrong, and since I’m not trained in medicine, I expect my healthcare providers to be, especially as it relates to the well being of my unborn children.
I’ve read my fair share on what I should be doing and how I should be doing it, and while I’m no expert (see above), I know that unless it’s light chunk tuna once a week, I should steer clear of tuna while with child. So I asked the midwife for clarification, assuming I misheard her or she misspoke. But I didn’t and neither did she. In fact, she went to say that I couldn’t possibly eat enough tuna for my health and that of my unborn child.
The next time I saw her she suggested an alternative to the medicine I was taking for the clotting disorder that had caused me to have three previous miscarriages. I later asked a nurse and then a doctor in my practice about what she said and they looked at me like I was crazy. Had I followed her advice it might not have necessarily been the difference between life and death, but I go to professionals for the nuances of their training and expertise as much as for the absolutes.
The thing is, when I was living in New York, I never once heard any friend or family member talk about using midwives for their pregnancies and births. Things in Colorado are a little more hippie-like, and that’s fine, but I’ve since decided I’m really a New Yorker at heart (in case 30 years of living there didn’t already cement it). This isn’t to say that no New Yorkers use midwives — I’m sure thousands upon thousands do — just as I’m sure that plenty of Coloradans never see midwives. And I’m sure plenty of women will argue they don’t like their doctors or nurses and have received bad treatment or advice from them, too. The good thing is that we have the ability to make choices, and I choose to be 100 percent confident in the knowledge of the people who are treating me while I’m pregnant. Perhaps I’m missing out on some kind of better or heightened experience by eliminating midwives from my care, but I’m comfortable with my decision.
After the those two visits with the midwife during my first pregnancy, I decided that the people dealing with my babies need to be registered nurses or medical doctors — period. That is my choice. While I have no doubt there are lovely and skilled and highly trained and educated midwives out there, they weren’t part of my last birth experience after that second office visit, and they won’t be part of this birth experience — period.
Do you have a preference between obstetricians and midwives?
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