A recent article in the New York Times talked about the growing “trendiness” of midwives and I wanted to throw my two cents in.
Some of you who follow me on Twitter may remember that I switched my prenatal care abruptly at around 30-31 weeks pregnant after a bad experience at an appointment with an OBGYN practice. I’m not going to get too detailed in this post, but I had so much anxiety from the incident that I nearly blacked out leaving the building. I was determined at that point to find new prenatal care that emphasized not only the well-being of my baby but that also made me feel safe.
While frantically searching that same day, I stumbled on to Special Beginnings’ website and gave them a call. I explained the situation and they asked if Brandon and I could come meet with them and get a tour of their facility the following day. After the tour, they sat down and answered questions from us and another couple for over an hour and explained the various aspects of what they do. To our delight, they were actually covered by our health insurance plan (and many other plans too, incidentally), and could deliver at the local hospital we had already toured. Beyond that, they don’t just “attend” the hospital births—they are actually members of the medical staff.
Although I had a low-risk pregnancy and felt good throughout, we did discover Isobel was breech around the 31 week mark. She remained breech for the next 7 weeks despite our best efforts to turn her in alternative ways, at which time we scheduled an external cephalic version that was successful. Throughout this time, the midwives we saw were calm, relaxed and helpful. They provided me excellent support and care and helped arrange for the version to be done by an OBGYN at the hospital that they recommended.
Two days before Isobel was born, I was admitted to the hospital with a fever of 103, which eventually peaked at 104. (It never fell below 101 until after Isobel was born.) During this time, the midwives on call (I saw 3 during my total stay in the hospital which was 5 days) worked tirelessly to help lower my fever and provide me various options of how my labor might proceed…or not proceed. At one point, the on-call OB examined me because they must oversee any maternity patients with fever. She was concerned that the fever was causing Isobel’s heartrate to spike and they may need to do an emergency c-section. I was okay with that outcome, since I was most concerned about Isobel’s well-being, but I was still grateful that they worked as hard as they did to help give me another option. The medical attention from the midwives and the fluids given to me every hour or so by the nurses helped to stabilize the fever long enough for me give birth to Isobel nearly 40 hours after I was admitted. When I look at my entire experience, I see circumstances set in motion by things entirely out of my control. But! The one thing I could control—my medical care—was originally a necessary decision that turned out to be more fortuitous than even I could have imagined.
I encountered both skepticism and praise from friends and family once I switched to Special Beginnings, but for me, the decision wasn’t motivated by anything except doing what FELT right. Articles like this are frustrating to me. Do pregnancy and birthing decisions—and parenting decisions, for that matter—always have to be so black and white? Why do midwives have to be either “hippies” or “status symbols”? Why does birth have to be “natural” or “not natural”? I want you to know that based on my experience and those of a few friends I’ve spoken to, it doesn’t have to be like that. I’m sick of seeing women disparage other women because their pregnancy, birth or parenting choices aren’t identical. I’m so tired of reading articles that pit the SAHM experience to the working mom experience. Do you want to know the right way to give birth? THE WAY THAT ENDS WELL. Period. And you do whatever it takes to achieve that outcome for yourself and your baby, no matter what that answer is. Giving birth should not be trendy.