Why I chose a Midwife
The Positive Pregnancy Test
I’ve heard the word midwife many times in my life and I knew that a midwife helped deliver babies, but I never stopped to think any further than that. Until, of course, I got pregnant myself. It was always my assumption that I would go see a Doctor and deliver in a hospital, as that is what everyone I knew had always done.
Over the course of my entire life, I had not known a single person who gave birth with a midwife. I had also assumed and strongly desired to have an epidural and any other pain medication they would be willing to give me. While I don’t love modern Western medicine all the time, I was not ashamed to take advantage of it during delivery and I assumed it would not harm my baby since it seemed most women I knew had an epidural and then subsequently had perfectly healthy babies.
As things go, my “plans”, did not turn out as I expected. I first got pregnant in June of 2017. When I saw the positive pregnancy test, I immediately called a few close friends I knew who were either pregnant themselves or had children. I needed advice. It occurred to me, as soon as I saw the positive lines on the test, that I had no idea what my next steps were. I hadn’t known a pregnant friend or a family member who lived close to me in over 10 years. I was clueless.
One of my friends, the pregnant one, was overflowing with so much helpful information that I called her several times in that first week. She said I didn’t need to rush to the doctor unless I really wanted to. There were a few websites and a few phone apps that she turned me onto that were very helpful. Then, she just happened to mention that she was not planning on giving birth with a doctor that she was going to a birthing center where her midwife would deliver her baby.
Midwifery Isn’t Safe, Right?
A midwife, thought? I mean, I knew they delivered babies, but wasn’t that like a million years ago? Like from ancient times? Midwifery didn’t actually have a real place in civilized society anymore, did it? It wasn’t safe, right? Midwifery was for people who lived in the country and couldn’t get to a “real” doctor, right? People who didn’t have any money. These midwifes certainly weren’t trained, were they? Well, maybe midwifery is now “cool” again. If that’s the case, like all these silly “superfoods” that are just simple foods selling for exorbitant amounts of money, then it’s probably just a silly trend and costs a fortune.
Why A Midwife?
“Really? A midwife?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m going to a Birthing Center here in Austin.” She said.
“So, does that mean no epidural?” I asked.
“That’s right. No epidural. Totally natural.” She replied. I paused for awhile and to really take this in.
“I guess I don’t really know anything about midwives.” I admitted, then said, “why a midwife?”
Childbirth is not an illness that needs treatment.
“Because they are experts in childbirth and all things surrounding childbirth. When you’re giving birth, why not go to a birthing expert. Childbirth is not an illness that needs treatment. Childbirth is something women have done forever. It’s a very natural process. It doesn’t need a doctor, unless something is wrong. Collectively, midwifery has hundreds of years of knowledge. They are specialist. Midwives are group of women sharing knowledge and helping other women give birth. It’s beautiful. And,” she said, “I don’t have to go to a hospital. I get to be a comfortable bedroom, in my own clothes.”
My Eyes Opened
The level of astonishment I experienced is almost embarrassing as I think back on this now. It makes me realize just how “impossible” it is to be so certain about something until we are in that position ourselves. I was blown away by what she was describing. My eyes were instantly opened. My heart and my mind expanded to fully breath in all that she had said. Birthing experts? No hospital? Totally natural? Comfortable bedroom?
Over the course of the next few days, I completely changed my mind. I didn’t want a doctor, I didn’t want a hospital and I certainly didn’t want drugs. In just a few short hours, I was convinced. Hell no. No way. I was going all natural, baby. All natural.
Fate is in Control
About two weeks later, fate would take another turn when, during the middle of my morning meditation I felt a rush of wetness between my legs. I ran to the bathroom to find a large spot of deep red blood. It would take me another 24 hours of continual bleeding to realize fully that I was having a miscarriage (read my miscarriage story here).
Just Six Months Later
The second pregnancy happened just about 6 short months later in January of 2018. This time, I let about 6 weeks pass before I called anyone. I wanted to take it slow this time and let my body tell me what it was doing and what direction it was headed. Once I hit the 6 week mark and the insane nausea started (read my cures for nausea here), I started to feel a bit more confident and so I called my friend again (who had since had a perfectly healthy baby girl at the birthing center with a midwife) and asked her to tell me more about the birthing center process. She said the Austin Birthing Center was where she went and that I could call and get a tour and set up a time to talk to one of the midwives. I called a few days later to get a tour at the center.
The Tour of The Birthing Center and Meeting the Midwife
I had no idea what to expect when my husband, Luke, and I met at the center for the tour. We approached the desk and they welcomed us and asked us to take a seat and one of the guides would come out first to show us around then we would meet one-on-one with a midwife where we could ask questions.
We sat on the couches in the waiting room and I noticed how much the center felt like a home. The couches and the tv and the chairs and the paintings were all very homely, not like a doctor’s office. Within a few minutes, we were greeted by our tour guide, who walked us around the center. Mainly he showed us the large (and yes usable) kitchen/living room area where our family and friends could hang out during the birth. It was a regular kitchen and they would be able to use anything they needed to make themselves feel at home.
Cozy and Colorful
Next we toured two of the birthing rooms. They felt like real country homes to me. Cozy, colorful, wooden and large. Each has it’s own shower and each has it’s own bath tub and large queen size bed and I would be free to give birth in any of them that I choose. There are dressers and tables and a small kitchenette. Again, it felt like a home, not a hospital.
A Nurturing Environment
The tour guide said during labor and the birth, I would be free to roam about the room, use the shower or the bathtub of course, give birth in either if it so happened that way, and that I could wear my own clothes (or none at all). The point was to make it as homey and comfortable as possible. I was already sold on it. Just being there in that nurturing environment nourishing the developing Momma that I was becoming, it felt right. I wanted this for myself. And I wanted this for my baby. I knew in my heart and soul that being in a place like this during labor and birth would relax me and would allow me the freedom and peace of mind to let my body do everything and anything it needed to do in order to freely birth this baby.
Childbirth is not and Emergency
For me, I know that being surrounded by doctors in a hospital would make me nervous. Hospitals make me nervous just by walking inside one, even when nothing is wrong. I feel so well taken care of in hospitals during an emergency (of which I’ve had several). But childbirth is not an emergency.
How It Works
The tour guide, my husband and I sat down and chatted about operational questions before the midwife was to come in to talk more about the actual birthing process and ask me a few preliminary medical questions. After we went over logistics, insurance, etc, the midwife came in to greet me and my husband. She was just as I would have guessed and truly as I would have hoped. Donned in clothing that was black and maroon and flowed when she walked, she floated towards the bed. Taking a seat on the edge with her laptop on her legs, she talked to my husband and I like were were lifelong friends. It was exactly what I wanted. She was also all about business and got right into the questions about my health and the explanations about what this process would look like.
Am I Healthy Enough?
Part of the intention of the Midwife, I learned, was to decipher whether I was healthy enough for a birth with a midwife. She explained that there are many preliminary health issues that would cause the midwifes to deny your request and for them to recommend a doctor instead.
There are usually many indicators months, weeks, or days in advance that can give us an indication that perhaps something is wrong or is going to go wrong.
I haven’t had any medical issues that would cause concern for childbirth, so I wasn’t overly concerned. Well, I’ve had plenty of medical issues like a broken foot and a car accident, etc , but none of these issues would cause me to be a high-risk pregnancy.
What If Something Goes Wrong?
My first question for her, of course, was what if something does happen during the birth. I believe fully in visualization and projection and setting ones mind up for success, but I am also real and practical and we are all human and things can happen. The midwife explained that firstly, if anything happened, I would be transported to a hospital at the first sign.
This is Not a Crisis
She went on to explain that in most cases, complications that occur during childbirth are not usually last minute crises. There are usually many indicators months, weeks, or days in advance that can give us an indication that perhaps something is wrong or is going to go wrong. Therefore, there is usually plenty of time to make different arrangements if something were to go wrong or if my body began to have issues or if the baby was in jeopardy in any way.
There are Early Indicators
I really liked this answer. I liked it because I agree with it. For a process so natural as childbirth, and for a woman like me who is so in touch with her body, and with all the medical technology we have access to nowadays, of course there are indicators. Of course there are. And, of course, if for some reason we are all blind to these or if there is a major crisis, then off to the hospital it is.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of an ambulance visit? I have. Several times. The most recent being my bicycle accident. 911 was called and I swear the ambulance was there and the paramedics were at my feet within 3 minutes. It was remarkable. (Read about my accident here).
A Cozy Room with a Cozy Bed
I have been in the hospital. More times that I would have liked. Every single time I was treated with respect, I felt safe and I felt well cared for. Also, I was always loaded up on drugs, getting surgery, wearing a hospital gown and lying in a hospital bed. I’ve never been to the hospital when it wasn’t a stressful experience because I’ve also never been to the hospital for any routine natural processes. Visiting hospitals only happens when something goes wrong. The mere thought of entering a hospital makes me nervous. I love and appreciate the life-saving work that goes on there. And if I am ever in an accident or if I need surgery, the hospital will be the first place I go. But I do not want to bring my daughter into this world inside of one.
I want exactly what the Birthing Center provides – a cozy room, with a cozy bed, a big bath tub, a shower, a full kitchen, the freedom to wear my own clothes or none at all, to have my family come in and out, to have my Doula there and mainly, to have a completely natural birth without any drugs.
The Power of Being a Woman
To be able to walk around, to breathe, to move, to flow with this tremendous eruption of God-given life and deep change that will happen. I want to feel the pain, let it flow through me, let my body to respond in the way that I know it will, by releasing natural endorphins that will calm me and calm my baby.
The birth will give me the strength to be the mother.
My body is not my enemy, it is my protector and I want it to emit all the necessary chemicals that it needs and that my baby needs. I want to be overcome with the power of birth. The power of being a woman. The power of life.
Birth of the Mother
When childbirth was not real to me, before I actually got pregnant, I wanted to rush through the birthing process and get to the part where I had the baby in my arms. But now, while of course I cannot wait to hold her, I also cannot wait for the labor and the birth. The power within that experience will change me in a way that I know will be immensely transformative. I think the strength, bravery and overcoming of fear that I will need to embody will actually be the platform off which I will jump into motherhood. The birth will give me the strength to be the mother.