Previous Post Next Post

Pregnancy

Brought to you by

Why I Prefer Midwives

By KateTietje |

Yes…that’s me holding my newborn son, just minutes after birth.

It’s no secret, if you’ve been reading my recent posts, that I’m a fan of drug-free birth.  Or that I had a home birth.  What I haven’t specifically addressed, yet, was why I prefer midwives.

Home births and midwives generally go together, because there are very few doctors that will attend home births anymore.  But women who deliver in the hospital can choose to have midwives, too (usually CNMs instead CPMs, though).  I’ve actually seen a number of different doctors and midwives through my pregnancies so far.  And really?  I prefer midwives.

First, you should know that I don’t dislike doctors, per se.  I think they’re necessary and they have their place.  If you’re high-risk, you need to see a doctor.  Doctors are specialized care: they know how to handle the situation when a pregnancy has a problem, and they are highly trained surgeons (i.e. c-sections).  They’ve been trained to see pregnancy as a potentially dangerous situation and to handle any complication that arises quickly and efficiently.

But.

That is just not the case for most women.  And I think it worries and stresses women to have a care provider who treats them as if they might have a problem at any moment, even when their pregnancy is completely normal.  Because doctors know what “could” happen, they are all about proactively testing and managing a woman’s care even when there is no specific reason to do so.  A lot of women who are looking for a natural experience find themselves unhappy about this sort of treatment, as I was.

I did run into some doctors who were more hands-off, and I liked that.  But even they were quick with the ultrasound wand: “Oh, you had 5 minutes of light pinkish spotting last night?  Probably just minor irritation, but let’s go ultrasound to see.”  Surprise…everything was fine.  It didn’t exactly bother me, because they had a positive, laid-back attitude…but it was just…not what I was looking for.

The Midwives

Late in Daniel’s pregnancy — actually around 28 weeks — we found the midwives who delivered him.  They are CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives).  I loved them best of all.  They did what I considered to be “necessary testing” — and if anything came back unusual, didn’t hesitate to send me in for further testing — but didn’t pressure me to do extra stuff.  But there was so much more to it than that.

At all my other appointments, I felt rushed.  Doctors spend an average of 8 minutes per patient — 15 if you’re really lucky.  They checked me out and said “Do you have any questions?” often with one foot out the door.  Even the better ones would only sit patiently for five minutes or so before wrapping things up.  Small amounts of advice were offered, but as long as everything was looking normal, that was great.

The midwives talked to me.  They were not just interested in how I was doing medically.  They had lists of questions that we talked about through our appointments.  They took a careful health history, including my first birth story and even my mother’s birth history.  They wanted to know our reasons for choosing home birth.  How we felt about birth in general.  Who we wanted at the birth and what comforts we wanted and why.  And sometimes we just talked about random things.  They even asked us about our religion and how that played a role in our choices.  They wanted to know us and be truly familiar with us and our preferences.

The midwives also invited family into the room.  They have made it clear to us that they want husbands and children there — even though children interrupt!  (They offer evening appointments to make this possible, too.)  The husband’s role and the childrens’ role is just as important to them as the mother’s role.  One of my midwives told me a story where she attended a birth and a child (maybe 2 years old or so) was desperately trying to get into the room to get to his mother.  Another adult was trying to keep him away to help, but he was throwing such a fit because he was held back.  The midwife went over and picked him up and set him next to his mother.  He snuggled in and watched quietly.  That was all he had wanted — and the midwife saw the value in allowing him in, rather than forcing the other adult to carry him away, kicking and screaming.

That’s the kind of attitude I want at my birth.  Family comes first. 

They are even supportive of, and knowledgeable about, breastfeeding while pregnant and tandem breastfeeding.  One of my midwives tandem nursed three of her children at once (so she clearly breastfed through pregnancies too!).  They don’t even blink when I say “My 3-year-old’s still nursing.”  They consider it totally normal.  They were able to give me advice about tandem nursing in the weeks leading up to my son’s birth, and the early weeks after, too.

I also felt very comfortable with my midwives because I knew that they were well-trained and experienced.  My senior midwife has delivered over 1000 babies over a 30-year period and never had a single bad outcome.  When I was worried about a small thing here or there, they easily reassured me.  If there was a concern, they checked into it quickly and calmly.  I tend to bleed during labor, and so the midwives checked on this frequently to make sure there wasn’t a problem (there’s not — and now we know that’s just “normal” for me). 

I also loved that they were knowledge about “alternative” treatments.  If there was a small problem (like when I got slightly anemic), they didn’t rush to suggest that I need a drug or other medical intervention.  They knew of different vitamins and supplements that could (and did) help me instead.

They knew what to do in “difficult” situations, too. My son was born with the cord wrapped very tightly around his neck and he wasn’t breathing very well.  But they calmly and efficiently handled that, too.  They know how to deliver babies without having to cut the cord, which they did.  They untangled him and laid him on me.  When he wasn’t breathing quite as well as they’d like, they brought an oxygen mask and put it on him for a minute while he still lay on my chest.  And then, he was fine.  There was no freaking out, my son was never ripped from my arms.  It was a simple situation, that midwives are trained to deal with.  I have little doubt that the cord would have been quickly cut, my son removed from me immediately after birth, and probably even a trip to the NICU, none of which was at all necessary, if we’d been in a hospital.  And believe me, he’s quite the active, intelligent 20-month-old now!

I felt so wonderful knowing my midwives were prepared and capable, able to calmly handle whatever popped up and keep us completely in the loop.  There were never any stressful moments for me.  Even if it may have been stressful for them — they never let on.  They just kept on top of things, always doing their jobs.

And so, as we anticipate our next child’s birth, the same midwives who delivered my son will be delivering my new baby.  And we could not be happier.

More on Babble

About KateTietje

katetiejte

KateTietje

Kate Tietje is a food blogger who focuses on natural food and cooking. In addition to Modern Alternative Mama, she has contributed her writing to the Parenting and Pregnancy channels on Babble.

« Go back to Pregnancy

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Comments, together with personal information accompanying them, may be used on Babble.com and other Babble media platforms. Learn More.

0 thoughts on “Why I Prefer Midwives

  1. LK says:

    I had a very similar experience with my home birth, and I think your description of midwife care is right on. It’s also valuable that you have had both experiences to be able to speak to the differences. I only have only had one baby so far and it was a home birth, so I don’t have anything else to compare it to. But, I did a lot of research beforehand in making that decision, and information based on experiences like yours can really help first time mothers make informed decisions about who attends their births.

  2. Michele says:

    I second everything you said. I had just about an identical experience. I was seeing a nurse midwife and switched to a CPM at about 25 weeks. My midwife shared my same beliefs on meds, natural/preventive care, vaxs, etc. She was able to help me with a natural remedy when we caught an early UTI so I could avoid antibiotics which was important to me.
    My little one was born with a very tightly cord wrapped around her neck. Additionally, I hemorrhaged. They took care of everything calmly and skillfully. My husband and I loved every second of our home birth experience from the prenatal care to the post pardum care and can’t imagine doing it again any other way.

  3. erica says:

    Question-So what happens to the cord if they dont cut it right away? By the way thank you so much for this story very inspiring-I really wanted a home birth with a midwife but they are not legal in CT

  4. KateTietje says:

    Hi Erica,

    I’m so glad you asked! It’s actually better to leave the cord uncut for an hour or so after birth. Initially, it continues to provide oxygen to the baby (while still attached to the mother), helping the baby to breathe while he learns to use his lungs. Then, it drains all the blood INTO the baby, increasing the baby’s blood volume by up to 50%! This can help prevent the newborn jaundice that is so common. Some people wait just until it stops pulsing — 20 or 30 minutes — but waiting is definitely better!

    Midwives and home births are also not legal where I am. But there are ways around it. :)

  5. Julie says:

    Home birth sounds nice. My hangup with it is the neonatal mortality rate for babies born at home to low-risk mothers is THREE TIMES HIGHER than it is for babies born in the hospital. That’s why I give birth in the hospital, even though the care is sometimes less personal.

  6. KateTietje says:

    Julie,

    There was ONE — heavily biased — study completed a few months ago (by ACOG and other anti-homebirth groups) that stated this mortality rate. In fact, independent review of both this data and other data (largely from other countries where homebirth is common) has found no such risk. All of the studies I’ve read have shown LOWER rates of infant mortality at home.

  7. Julie says:

    If that’s what you believe, you don’t understand statistics. Go back and read them again. Start with the Johnson and Daviss CPM 2000 study published in the BMJ in 2005. Don’t just skip to the conclusion; take a look at the actual data. If you don’t see what I’m talking about, find someone with a working knowledge of statistics to help you figure it out. You owe it to your baby and all the pregnant women who read this blog to get it right.

  8. Merry says:

    I delivered a natural delivery with a CNM at a hospital i love my midwife. She never left my side respected that i only wanted my husband and i in the room for the delivery. I wanted that safe feeling of the hospital that if something goes wrong we are already here but i also wanted to have a natural child birth.
    During my birth my daughters heart rate dropped very fast and the monitors went off a doctor from the hospital came in and suggested a c-section, my midwife had me roll over on all fours like a dog and within seconds her heart rate was up. I would recommend a midwife to any expecting mother weather you go CNM or CPM its is a wonderful experience.

  9. Monika says:

    @katietjet — re: “…and other data (largely from other countries where homebirth is common) has found no such risk”.

    Which countries would that be?

    If you think that homebirth is common in any western developed countries with low maternal and perinatal mortality rates than you would be wrong. The OECD country with the highest rate of homebirths is the Netherlands, with a rate of 30% (which means that the overwhelming majority of 70% do NOT birth at home). The Netherlands has very high perinatal and maternal mortality rates however, so they cannot be the ones that make your case for you.

    Apart from that, New Zealand has the next highest rate of homebirths, at approximately 10% (so 90% do not birth at home). All other OECD countries have almost negligible rates of homebirth — less than 1-2% at the very most, so I would be very interested in learning about which countries and what data you could possibly be referring to.

  10. MsFortune says:

    So what if something had gone wrong – if, for example, when your midwife put the bag on the baby, that was not enough?

    Is your non-medically trained midwife competent to handle it if your baby stops breathing? If you hemorrhage?

    Birth has been in all locations and most time periods, the biggest killer of women. It is safe now because of modern obstetrics.

    Your desire to drag women back into the 1800s is just puzzling to me.

    It would be dangerous if I thought women were silly enough to fall for this.

  11. KateTietje says:

    MsFortune,

    Your comments are, first, rather insulting. Please choose your words more carefully next time. I will entertain respectful debate but I will not take insults.

    Second, homebirth IS on the rise. I will be addressing the concerns you mentioned in a post coming next week.

  12. Karen Cox says:

    I love the choice of having a midwife. However, I do not like the comment….there are ways around it…when speaking of using a midwife where it is against the law. In states where it is legal there are certain rules that state that a midwife must have a doctor as a back-up in case of an emergency. I personally knew someone who died in childbirth because the midwife was illegally practicing and the husband didn’t call 911 until the midwife had time to “get away”. She bled out. If she had been in a hospital that baby would have known its mother. Choose, but remember, sometimes a little interference can be better than a life lost. Again, midwives are wonderful and I fully agree more personal and appropriate for most births….but…..do it legally!

  13. Lome Aseron says:

    Great post. Both of my sons were born at home. The care we all got from the midwives (and they do care for the entire family, something I appreciated as a dad) was exceptional. They did such a good time for our first birth that they didn’t make it in time and I delivered him myself! I wholeheartedly endorse homebirths for moms who would be comfortable birthing at home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Previous Post Next Post