As I mentioned in a previous post, Jeremy and I receive lots of questions regarding our using a midwife. Since this is my third pregnancy and the first time not to use the services of a medical doctor and hospital, many are probably wondering why change now?
Just for fun, I thought I’d post some of our experiences the past 8 months with using a midwife- it has definitely been a rewarding experience so far!
Obviously I wasn’t sure what to expect when we first met our midwife, Betsy (pictured above at a recent prenatal check up). Since I was accustomed to a more clinical setting, it took me a while to “thaw out” and enjoy the home setting of our visits and engage in friendly chit-chat. I realize that some doctors and nurses are out-going or even chatty, but the atmosphere of a midwife appointment, although highly professional, is still less starchy than visits to a doctor’s office.
Instead of sitting in a sterile, non-personal cubical waiting for a gal in a scrub to come poke and probe, I found myself sitting in the living room of a very friendly lady, surrounded by pictures of her family! Even the birthing clinic where we had our sonogram done was very comfortable and “homey”- not your typical institutionalized setting.
During a typical prenatal visit with Betsy, Jeremy and I first are given several hand outs (several of which I’ve posted on my website) and receive instruction and tips for the next phase of the pregnancy. These mini “birthing classes” are very helpful and are generally the time when we discuss any questions or worries we may have regarding the pregnancy or birth.
Next is my examination, which entails checking my blood pressure and temperature, a urine test, weighing in (my least favorite part!), listening to the baby’s heart-beat and measuring the size of the uterus, etc. I’ve been extremely pleased with how thorough my midwife is in adhering to details, helping me overcome some of the hurdles of pregnancy, and always following up on any questions or problems. After two pregnancies under the care of a medical doctor I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed the tailor-made care of a midwife a million times better!
One of the benefits of using a midwife is that she approaches each mother with an individual outlook instead of using gross generalizations. For instance, statistics tell us that a huge majority of expectant mothers are at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Accordingly, a medical doctor treats each mother as if she may be infected with (or at risk for) an STD; the result is a battery of expensive prenatal tests. (Ours cost around $800 with my last pregnancy- ouch!) These are non-optional tests, from what I understand, and are highly unnecessary for a monogamous woman with little or no risk of catching an STD. Furthermore, the prenatal screening tests are not included in the “maternity package” offered by most doctors, nor are the loads of other tests and lab work that they are prone to initiate.
To the contrary, I have had to take only one extra test (which was optional) since the beginning of my pregnancy; it cost $45. All our prenatal tests (which were about 1/3 the amount of those performed by my last doctor) were included in the prenatal package we paid for with our midwife. Much more sensible!
One of my biggest frustrations with my doctors was the passive response to some of the discomforts and problems during pregnancy. Issues like heart burn and varicose veins were dismissed as “normal” (I realize that they are) and something that pregnant women simply must “deal with”. I was even told that my varicose veins would “just get worse” with each pregnancy. To the contrary, my midwife has actively assisted me in treating- and curing- much of my problem with varicose veins during this pregnancy. Although they still cause some discomfort I can honestly say that they’ve been better not worse this time around, thanks to natural supplements and a few simple exercises!
So, what’s it like to use a midwife? As I told a friend of mine recently, it’s like having my own mother taking care of me!