When I went for my first prenatal appointment with my doctor (back when I still fit into my nice jeans!), she told me that I needed to start thinking about whether I wanted to be under the care of a midwife or an OB. It was something that I never thought of, mostly because I thought midwives helped the OB, and would be there anyway. Automatically I thought “oh, I’d probably go with an OB” because she described the midwife as someone who’s care is a little more personal and comforting, and is good for people who “would like their hand held throughout the process.” I dismissed it immediately and said “yeah we’d probably go with an OB” out loud. I’m not sure she was convinced, because she continued on with explaining the process.
“If you do decide to go for a midwife, do some research and then give them a call because usually they’ll run a waiting list.”
“Yeah, ok, ok.” Didn’t she listen to me?? I said OB!!
We went on with the appointment, and one of the things she did was calculate my estimated due date. She took out her rotating calendar wheel, and along with the date of my last period, she lined up the dates to give me April 1st, 2014.
“Oh wow! That’s 2 days before my birthday!!”
“It’s give or take two weeks,” she replied, without a smile, a smirk. or even an eyebrow raise.
Come on, woman – that’s a little exciting, isn’t it? I was so surprised at how it didn’t faze her. I know it’s nothing to throw a party about (wait… that’s a lie, it’s definitely something to throw a birthday party about! Bahaha!), but I would have appreciated a bit of joy. Maybe it’s because she was a bit of a hard ass, or maybe she knows that barely anyone gives birth on their actual due date, but instead, I felt like I reacted over nothing, and now I just looked like some giddy school girl prancing around because she got a gold sticker on her homework. Thanks lady.
Two days after my appointment, I was still thinking about that birthday thing. I don’t know why it was bugging me so much, but it was. Why was she so cold? Is that how the OB will speak to me? This is my first pregnancy, I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe I do want someone to hold me hand! I was lying in bed when all of a sudden the midwife thing crept into my thoughts. My thoughts led me to Google, and Google led me to the website of the midwifery clinic that had privileges at the hospital where I wanted to deliver.
The first question I had was – Is it free? In Ontario, Midwifery services are covered under OHIP. Check!
The other question I had was – what do they do?
Midwives are practitioners who specialize in normal, low-risk pregnancies. They are trained to care for the woman and the baby, from the beginning of the pregnancy, until 6 weeks after delivery. Women who deliver using midwives are discharged sooner (4-6 hours compared to 10-12 with OB), and have less interventions.
Wait… what? I get to go home sooner and I don’t have to go through unnecessary procedures? I’m in.
I’m really confident that I can go through labor and delivery without an epidural. I’m actually terrified of an epidural. Mostly because I had surgery earlier this year and had to go under general anaesthesia. I woke up in a laughing fit and the nurse told my husband “Oh, that’s the ketamine. We had to give her more because the original dose wasn’t enough.”
That’s right. I’m so hardcore that they couldn’t put me under with the regular amount of ketamine. They needed to give me more ketamine. I don’t know about you, but if someone’s gonna inject something into my spine, I would like it to work the first time. Which is something I don’t think will happen. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and I’m 5’2″ tiny – something that might have thrown off the anaesthesiologist. I found out a few days ago that my mom had an epidural when she was delivering me, but it didn’t work. If it’s not 100% guaranteed, I’d rather just go through with the pain of one thing, rather than have an extra cherry on top of it all.
Another thing that had me jumping on the pro-midwife wagon was that you’re pretty much guaranteed to have someone you know actually be the person delivering your baby. So even though you’ve seen the same OB for every single pre-natal appointment, he/she could go on vacation right before you give birth, and here’s Doctor Smith coming in without knowing anything about you other than what’s on your chart. Birth plan? Schmirth plan! What if he reeeeally likes C-sections, and that’s not on your wish list. Now I’m optimistic enough to think that they don’t all go that way, but what if it does? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I am with a team of 4 midwives. I have met three of them so far, and it’s comforting to know that 2 of the 4 midwives WILL be at the birth of my child. They explained to me that in extremely rare circumstances, if I go into labor while they are attending another birth, and one or two of my other midwives are unavailable, only then will they pull a midwife from another team (the practice has two teams) to be at my delivery. But again, the chances of all four of them being unavailable is extremely rare, and I will always have two midwives at the birth, no matter what. And since midwives are not surgeons, I know I won’t get one that is scalpel happy and raring to cut me open at the first sign of difficulty.
Which brings me to another point – if at anytime I prove to be high-risk or require care outside of the midwives’ scope of practice, then I would be transferred to an OB. It’s like getting the best of both worlds. If I can do this au naturel, then all the better, but if the caretaker on my side -who is advocating for my wishes of a natural birth – believes its necessary for me to be transferred to a specialist, then I trust that decision. Can’t go wrong!
After the birth, the postnatal care is pretty hard to beat. For six weeks post-partum, the midwife will visit me at home once a week to make sure that baby and myself are healthy and to answer any questions that I have.
So far, I am delighted with the decision I have made and am so fortunate to have been accepted into the practice. For those that don’t know, it’s quite tough to get a midwife. I read a statistic once that for every 1 woman that gets a midwife, 1 gets turned away, simply because of volume. When I first called, I was waitlisted. They were full. It wasn’t until I realized we had to move back to my hometown, that I called another practice who happened to have room for me. I’m not sure how they fill up their spots, but they can only take in so many patients for each “birth month” because again, the due date isn’t written in stone. If these woman are due the first two weeks and these women are due the last two weeks, it won’t necessarily go that way.
I believe I’ve received all the standard care necessary for a pregnancy in Canada, and I never had to wait 2 hours in a hospital. I’ve had Integrated Prenatal Screening (IPS) done, my anatomy ultrasound, the proper blood tests (my midwife even took my blood today and was better than the technicians who would do it at the lab for me – 4 vials and I barely felt it!) along with warm, friendly bedside manner and the answers to any questions I’ve had. I’ve never been rushed, they aren’t bored of my low-risk classification, and they smile with me whenever we hear baby’s heartbeat of the doppler.
I know midwives aren’t for everyone. One of my friends will no doubt go with an OB, because she would prefer that her practitioner be medically trained in everything possible, which is a valid point. It would be comforting to know that if any complications do arise, they’re there, and don’t have to go find someone who is qualified to deal with it because – it’s them. It all has to do with what you’re comfortable with, and what kind of care you’re looking for – but regardless, when you’re making the decision, do all the research you possibly can! You can never be too informed when it comes to the birth of your baby.