Here’s the TRUTH about Midwives (or the TOP 5 REASONS you want a midwife):
1. A Midwife’s entire education and career is focused on women, pregnancy, childbirth and babies.
Yes an OBGYN has spent significantly more time in school, had gotten both a doctorate and their MD. And yes, most of that is also on women and childbirth, but it’s also on a variety of genital and reproductive issues, etc. They are surgeons, and most of their career is spent caring after a variety women’s issues/problems/medical conditions that come up. Pregnancy however is not a medical condition and definitely not a problem. You definitely want them around if for any reason you are high risk and have major issues that require surgery during your birth. If however you have a normal healthy pregnancy, you can go through the entire process and have your baby without any doctors, nurses or medical interventions of any kind (if you so choose).
A midwife treats your pregnancy as a cherished part of the life cycle. They will of course inform you of all the worst case scenarios, but they are there to be a team member through your process- they keep you positive and happy and healthy for the baby. You leave your appointments feeling relief, encouraged, and speaking as a new mom, slightly more ready for childbirth and to enter your next stage of life as a mom. In every stage of your pregnancy and childbirth, you’ll only take medications or use medical interventions when they are necessary and you chose to do so, knowing all alternative options.
2. With a Doctor you’re a Patient, with a Midwife you’re a Client.
So I already described the difference in focus of OBGYNs and Midwives, it starts from the minute you walk into their office for the first time. The general environment is warm and inviting: couches, women breastfeeding, mommy pillows, boppy pillows-everything to set an atmosphere that is relaxing and helpful for to-be moms, new moms and experienced moms who need naps themselves or who have little ones in tow that need sleepy time.
I know personally I was very concerned with a stranger (even a medical professional) who was going to spend so much time staring at my lady-bits- especially when a tiny person was about to stretch it unrecognizable. I understood logically that it would not matter to them, that it was just part of their job but I couldn’t help but feel vulnerable. The idea that I would definitely get to know the person delivering my baby on a more personal level was key.
3. Midwives are on your team by working as a team.
During your pregnancy (9-10 months) you see your doctor or midwife at least once a month (weekly in the end of your pregnancy) as you get to know one another, building a relationship with them and building a birth plan together. What sucks is (a) you might not even have that doctor on the day of your child’s birth if they’re busy or on holidays and (b) even if they are available, nurses whom you never met spend the bulk of the time with you coming in and out of the room as needed until essentially you are fully dilated and the baby is crowning.
When you go with midwives, you will meet and build a relationship with 3-4 midwives. You are assigned a primary midwife who is in charge of your health and wellbeing, they majority of your appointments are with her. She will also have a backup midwife you will have at least two appointments with, so you build a comfort level JUST IN CASE your primary midwife is not availible. Reasons she might not be availible: she’s at another birth, or she’s sleeping having been up for 24 hours at another birth. My midwife said her limit was 5 hours- she went offline for at least 5 hours post birth to sleep. I was lucky enough to have a student following my primary. Before my son’s birth she was just another cheerful face during my appointments and whom I felt good helping her learn. AT my son’s birth it was AMAZING to have another person present coaching me through the excruciating contractions, and to help my man better massage me, etc. In addition to your primary, back up and potential student midwife your last midwife is your secondary midwife (whom you also have at least two appointments with) whose primary purpose is your child’s wellbeing. They typically called when you start pushing and arrive by the time the baby is born. As I amazingly had only twelve minutes of pushing she arrived 5 minutes late.
4. You’re in charge.
An OBGYN definitely will answer any questions you have during your appointments efficiently. They don’t have the time however, to go over all the possibilities that might come up during your pregnancy and labour. They are at at best ok with if not advocates for medical interventions (epidurals, medications, antibiotics, etc etc) so they wouldn’t waste time reviewing all the many additional options for each thing that might pop up (giving you the tools for a fully educated decision) as for them, it’s not necessary.
A midwife however creates a plan from your very first appointment outlining every aspect of your pregnancy, childbirth and aftercare. They make sure you are informed with every stage of pregnancy, and with every possible choice you can make so when you make decisions you know the facts from every angle. Most midwives are anti-unnecessary medical intervention (would not suggest any medications, antibiotics, etc unless absolutely necessary) however they will support you with whatever you decide, as it’s in the best interest of you and the baby
5. Post-Partum Care.
So what happens when you give birth with a doctor in a hospital? Well if all goes well (and you don’t need a C-Section-which is something that is slightly more likely to happen with an OBGYN as they are surgeons and as I previously mentioned more pro-medical intervention) then as I said you have mostly nurses present for the birth and a doctor. You’ll need to stay a minimum of 24 hours as the baby needs to go through a series of tests one which must happen 24 hours later. The longer you’re in the hospital, the longer you’re in an environment that is not sterile and not comfortable while you’re healing/getting into your new routine with your new baby. You’ll then be immediately discharged and switched to paediatrician care. Which means all the appointments in the coming weeks will be you travelling to the paediatrician’s office. Not only is the travel not fun with a new baby, you’re again risking exposure to bacteria and illness.
If, for example you have a normal hospital birth with your midwife, as I previously mentioned, only your midwife team (and however many support people the hospital allows/you would like) are present. No new faces or strangers needed. Afterwards you only need to stay in the hospital for a maximum of 4 hours. They stitch you up if needed (I needed a precautionary two); they need to know you’ve gone for a #1 and preferably a #2 in the washroom; and they need to see your baby latch if you’re breastfeeding. Despite having 4 months of difficult breastfeeding I was actually at home on my couch just over two hours after the birth. As I was struggling to get X’s weight up, to latch and suckle my midwives came at first every day from 24 hours later to do testing on him, then a week later it changed to every two days, then weekly for the first few weeks. I only needed to bring Xavier to their office for his last appointment 6 weeks later. Then you start seeing your paediatrician for all of your baby’s shots, etc.
Regardless of what you chose, your pregnancy will go as it will go. Your health and your baby will determine if you have an easy or difficult pregnancy or labour, a midwife can’t solve that. How you feel, your comfort level, and the level of education you have for decision making can however, quite possibly be increased dramatically with a midwife.
What’s your opinion on midwives and midwifery care? Did you use one? Share your experiences!