why i chose a midwife
“If I don’t know my options, I don’t have any.” ~ Diana Korte
When I was pregnant with Ava, my firstborn, I immediately knew that I did not want to birth in a hospital setting. Something felt off about that whole route and I sought to find alternative methods of giving birth. I quickly found quite a few birthing centers in my area that all provided natural births using midwives. BOOM, that was it! It was like second nature to me and there was no “talking me out of it” because this just felt right.
Sadly, throughout my pregnancy, I met so many women who had no idea about birthing centers or midwives and had very mixed feelings on the whole thing nor were not very supportive of the idea. However, in the mom group at the birthing center, there were quite a few woman having their 2nd or 3rd who had very bad experiences with their hospital births that led to researching different birthing methods. I considered myself very lucky to have chosen this route so early in my motherhood journey. I continued to have my second baby in a birthing center, but as for my third and fourth we decided to go with a home birth, and each one was such a magical experience.
Please note :: I am not saying that all women who had births in hospitals had/have bad experiences or that their labor wasn’t beautiful and I don’t want to shame anyone who chose to go that route. My goal is to put this knowledge out for every expecting mother to know that they too have a choice when it comes to their birth plan.
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What is a Midwife?
Midwife sounds like an old term – where knowledge was passed on from woman to woman about how to handle births. However, it is much more sophisticated today. There are actually multiple paths that can lead a woman to her midwifery certification & license (at least in the United States and Canada). The U.S has three midwifery credentials that can be achieved in order to become a midwife:
Certified Midwives (CM): Women who are educated in Midwifery, and are certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board. (AMCB)
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM): Women who are educated in Midwifery and Nursing, and are certified through the AMCB.
Certified Professional Midwives (CPM): Women who are very knowledgeable independent midwifery practitioners, and are certified through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). CPMs are the only midwives that have the credentials and knowledge about out-of-hospital births (i.e.: Birthing Centers & Home Births).
Midwives attend about 10% of U.S. births (including hospitals, birth centers, and home) and that number has been rising every year since 1989. I know many individuals have the same reaction when I mention an out-of-hospital birth….”is it safe?”
Well, If you are a healthy individual with no previous health issues, the answer should be YES! In fact according to a systematic review of studies comparing Physician care to Midwifery care in low risk pregnancies research showed that CNMs had:
- Lower rates of cesarean births
- lower rates of labor induction and augmentation
- significant reduction in accidental third and fourth degree perineal tears
- lower use of regional anesthesia
- Higher rates of breastfeeding(source)
For CPMs a study in 2000 showed that home-births had a low rate of intrapartum and neonatal mortality. The study also showed that medical intervention rates for planned home births were lower than low risk hospital births (source). I liked that this particular study mentioned, multiple times, the support that other countries showed in midwifery vs the U.S. Where, unfortunately, it’s not integrated into the healthcare system like most other countries with midwives attending around 70% of all births.
A midwife is the primary health care provider during your pregnancy, labor, birth, & postpartum. But they are so much more than that – they are a friend. They are not only there to help you birth your baby but to make you feel empowered, educated, and satisfied throughout the whole process. Spouses are also a big part of the birthing process, they get to catch the babies, cut the cord, put the first piece of clothing on them, weigh and measure, and so much more.
My appointments are relaxing, inviting, and comfortable… plus they can even involve your older kids during certain parts, which makes them feel like they’re helping. I have always loved how the entire process involves the whole family, because that is what helps to create a healthy bond with the newest member as well as make the pregnancy seem more exciting for everyone.
Communication is easy when it comes to having a midwife, with all my pregnancies I was able to shoot a text anytime I had a question or concern, you know because sometimes google can tell you the worst of the worst and no one enjoys those mini panic attacks. Your midwife is there to listen to you, share their knowledge and give advice if needed. They are there to help you understand all your options, teach you different techniques to labor, help you make truly healthy decisions when it comes to your diet, talk about YOUR birth plan, allow you to incorporate cultural, religious, or personal rituals into your labor and birth. They want you to make these decisions for yourself, but are there to help if and when you need it. Oh yea, and every appointment I’ve had is at least 30 minutes to an hour long. No assistant nurse taking my vitals, no sitting in waiting rooms for long periods of time, and no feeling of being rushed in and out.
Pregnancy feels more fun when you’re being treated as a normal human instead of a medical condition, which is what some moms have felt with their obstetricians. Although standard tests are performed during pregnancy with midwifery, the number of tests are much lower than your typical hospital pregnancy. Don’t forget all those vaccines and formulas that are pushed on you and your baby at the hospital – no thanks big pharma.
Unlike the movies, where the woman is laying on her back with bright ass florescent lighting, legs wide opened dripping in sweat and screaming bloody murder with each push – birthing with a midwife is a complete 180.
Birthing centers and obviously your home, provide space to walk around, eat (yes you are allowed to eat & drink!!), sit in the tub/shower, squat, bounce on a ball, dance… whatever your body is telling you to do, you’re allowed to do. I personally have never been to a natural hospital birth so I don’t know the procedures there, if you have please let me know your experience in the comments down below and I can update this post letting other readers know if it’s a similar experience. Your midwife will be monitoring and guiding you through this process to ensure that you’re both safe and relaxed as well as giving emotional and sometimes even spiritual support. Gently reminding you to not tense or scream but rather hum and even massaging you during contractions, allowing you to let your body and your baby do what needs to be done with as little resistance as possible.
You’re not rushed to get baby out, the midwives will give you space or support when you need it. They can tell by the way you handle your contractions what you need and where you’re at with the labor. Especially once you begin pushing!!
Want your whole family in the room for support?
Want to play your music and light candles?
Want to take a break and eat a snack?
Then the time finally comes and your baby is here. You or your husband, if he chooses to catch the baby, are the first ones to hold the baby. You get to immediately snuggle that little thing up to your chest and experience the most amazing type of love you will ever have for another human being!
… and the pain?
There is none at this point…since there are no drugs in your body, you immediately start creating some amazing stuff at this time – that good ol oxytocin! Nursing can begin as soon as you wish… and guess what? The midwife is there to help assist you with the nursing and help to get that little new life latched on. They offer tons of breastfeeding support, awesome right?
Some birthing centers provide herbal baths for you and your new baby to enjoy, I loved being able to be the one to clean my babies and explore their sweet little newborn bodies… 10 little fingers, 10 little toes, and one cute little nose! This was a very peaceful and pleasant time Shane and I got to have with them and I will never forget it.
Midwife and Baby
Birthing is hard, and not just for the mamas, but for the babies as well. My belief is that every baby deserves to be born gently, peacefully and surrounded in a comforting, loving environment. Inductions, vacuum extractions, surgical births (with U.S. cesarean rates over 31%), and a mother pumped up with drugs is not what a baby from a natural birth experiences. Birth is traumatic enough for a new life, and having the focus on mother-baby contact after birth is extremely important.
The bonding was already created from the moment baby heard mama’s heartbeat, laughter, and breath. But on the outside world, being with the one and only thing it’s familiar with is not only comforting but helps to enable baby to respond much quicker to life.
Delayed cord clamping is normal for a midwife and she will be the one to tell you the benefits of doing so. Like I mentioned earlier, the father can do the measuring and weighing of the baby, this is where you get to see the little feet sticking out of the cute little cloth carrier *heart melts*. Your midwife will record these findings, as well as provide a complete newborn exam.
Postpartum visits usually consist of a 24 hour visit, 3-6 day + 2 and 6 week office visits. But don’t forget all the lunch dates you will most likely have throughout the years, because you not only invested in someone to help you birth your baby, you also invested in a new lifelong friend.
Again, I would like to note, that although this post seems like there are harsh tones towards a hospitalized birth, I am not judging a mother for choosing that route. I am more so making aware of the reality that takes place in the hospital setting. As a mother I would like to educate rather than condem and as a capricorn I am simply stating it as is. Much love to you no matter what choice you go with.
What were your birth experiences like? Are you open to learning more about natural birth and midwifery?