We made the decision to have a home birth for several reasons (read more). The experience of midwifery care is completely new to us. Here are some of the things we have enjoyed so far from our time at Freedom and The Seed
in Tempe, Arizona:
A much more personal experience.
We were very fortunate to have an obstetrician we really liked: she took the time we needed to answer questions, to discuss our options for a natural birth and she took a little time to chit chat about life in general. We never felt like we were a “number” in her day.
However, we have been pleasantly surprised at the service we are receiving at our midwives’ office. We do not have to sign in, wait to talk to a receptionist to get a buzzer, sit in the waiting room and watch tv, see a nurse who takes the basic info and vitals, and then sit an examination room waiting for an indeterminate amount of time...usually anywhere from five minutes to over a half-hour if the office was running behind schedule.
When we walk into the midwives’ office, we are usually greeted by one of the midwifery students, offered a glass of water, and then shown into the visit room within five minutes. It’s just enough time for me to use the restroom, do my own urine testing, and get my own weight which I then report to the midwife during our visit.
There is the general feeling of mutual respect between adults, one set of people choosing care, the other set of people providing care. They trust that I can look at my test stick and report any abnormalities in my urine sample, and that I can take my own weight. There is no pressure to have any procedure done, or to have any test taken in our midwives office.
In the medical model of pregnancy, we got the “one size fits all” feeling. Since there were some patients who were at risk for certain complications of pregnancy, then we all had to be screened and tested to make sure we were healthy: we were “sick” until we were proven healthy. When we were patients in the medical model, we felt like we could not say no to tests, for example, things such as the diabetes screening, or to an ultrasound to determine fetal size at 36 weeks.
Under the care we are receiving now, there is a general belief that we are healthy. We are offered an information sheet on each test or procedure. There is a nice list of things that we have been happy to say no to, trusting that our midwives will let us know if we look like we are at risk for complications. If we are, we take a screen. If not, then we move on.
In fairness to the medical model, I will have to ask our midwives on the next visit which tests are standard for them. I don’t know if they do a full physical examination and blood panel as standard practice once a pregnancy has been confirmed since we were still under OB care at the beginning of this pregnancy. I imagine they have to do something to “prove” that we are healthy and low-risk since under Arizona law, licensed midwives can only provide care for healthy, low-risk moms. I will have to get back to you on this one.
Overall, the feeling is less rushed.
Although the amount of time we spend in the office is the same, we don’t have the feeling of our midwife having to rush off to her next waiting patient. I have never asked how much time they schedule per patient, however it hardly ever seems like we are piled up on top of each other. As we enter, we greet someone who is leaving. As we are leaving, there is usually someone else walking in.
Measuring the uterus.
This is our fourth pregnancy. This is the first time I have been shown where to feel for the top of my uterus. I feel a little d-u-m-b. Did I not think to ask before? Why didn’t any of the several doctors in the practice we saw at the ob office offer to show us? Now even Ysabella, our six-year old, knows how to feel my belly to find the harder edge of the uterus at the top of my abdomen.
Listening to the baby.
The midwives have two different types of fetoscopes, which are specially designed stethoscopes that are used to monitor the baby without using ultrasound beams. We have found that our children move away from the Doppler monitor, which uses ultrasound beams to measure the baby’s heart rate. They just don’t like it!! Their is a fair amount of debate about how ultrasound beams affect a fetus.
“Ultrasonic fetal scanning, from a medical standpoint, generally is considered safe if properly used when information is needed about a pregnancy. Still, ultrasound is a form of energy, and even at low levels, laboratory studies have shown it can produce physical effects in tissue, such as jarring vibrations and a rise in temperature. Although there is no evidence that these physical effects can harm a fetus, the FDA says the fact that these effects exist means that prenatal ultrasounds can't be considered completely innocuous. “
I am thrilled that our midwives make an effort to listen for a heartbeat with a fetoscope first before breaking out the Doppler monitor. We are hoping that by the next visit we will not need to use the Doppler monitor and eliminate the exposure to the ultrasound beam.
We have family visits.
There is a great lending library to peruse while we wait for our appointment, there is a bookshelf full of children’s toys and books, breastfeeding is welcomed, and our children are invited to participate as much as they want to at the visits. So far, the boys have been happy to play in the waiting room. Ysabella enjoys sitting in with me (or us if Bruss attends a visit) and helping me answer the midwife’s questions about how the pregnancy is going. She likes to help find the baby she is looking forward to meeting soon. It is a great way to help her prepare for the birth, which she knows she is free to participate in as much as she wants to, or not.
Childbirth is natural.
One of the biggest differences I feel as the patient is the fact that when I go to my midwifery appointment, I know that we all believe that childbirth is a natural process and that interference is not the status quo. Midwives know how to identify situations that may become emergent, and they also have ways to help a mom progress in her labor without the use of drugs or medical interventions. However, the prevailing philosophy is that birth can proceed without complications, and that they are their to monitor and ensure that families have Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcomes.
It is a big difference from going to the doctor’s office knowing that I was one of the few patients they had who gave birth without the use of an epidural and categorically refused tests and procedures because we did not feel they were necessary, nor would they further my care as a patient. It is a breath of fresh air to feel like I am welcomed and “normal”, rather than to have the feeling that everyone was rolling their eyes behind my back when I walked past them. I really did not mean to be troublesome; in reality we had done our research and in our heart of hearts we believe that birth is normal, not a medical condition that needs to be treated.
These are some of the things that we have noticed when we compare our care at a traditional obstetrical setting to the midwifery care we are using this pregnancy. I want to re-iterate that there is no “right” or “wrong” type of care. As I regularly say in my role as a Bradley Method® instructor, it is up to the parents to research all their options and decide which choice works best for their family.
If you used the traditional obstetrical doctor or certified nurse midwife setting and liked it, what did you like about it that would influence your decision to continue under that model of care?
If you have used a traditional obstetrical doctor setting and changed to licensed midwifery care, have you noticed any differences in the approach to your pregnancy care?
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It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.