I have my 20 week check up with a midwife tomorrow. I'm very excited about it, not the appointment necessarily, but midwives!
When I was pregnant with my first baby, we had just moved to a new city, and for me a new state, so I had no idea who to chose for my pre-natal care. I knew about midwives, but I was too scared to have a home birth and there were no birthing centers in our area. I guess I just did what most women do and I found an OB who was close to where we lived and worked at to the hospital near us. The doctors at the practice were nice, I liked them and felt like I was getting good care, even though the one doctor I primarily saw, laughed a little when I told him I was hoping for a natural birth. I did have a natural birth, at the hospital with an OB, but it wasn't what I was hoping for. My doctor was only there for the last 10-20 minutes of my birth, and since I had an uncomplicated labor and no pain medication, he really only needed to catch my baby. But even that he did not do, he dropped my son into the bag at the end of the hospital bed, ya know that one that is there to catch fluids, blood etc during birth?!
I was happy with my birth, ecstatic with my new baby, but disappointed with the lack of personal attention and care from my OBs. And, seriously, couldn't they even catch my baby???
When I got pregnant for a second time, I asked around and found another practice that was more open to natural birth, and there was even a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) who worked in the office. This group of doctors, again, were all very nice and caring and were a little bit more supportive of me wanting a natural birth (ie-no laughing when I put the words, "natural" and "birth" in the same sentence). I again, had a natural birth at the hospital, and this time my doctor did manage to catch my baby, but I still felt a little disappointed that the person I hired to be my care provider only walked into the room 10 minutes before my baby was born. How did he earn all the money when I did all the work?
Ok, so when I got pregnant for a third time, I knew I wanted something different, I actually considered a home birth this time around, but my husband was NOT at all comfortable with that. I found a family practice doctor who I was very happy with. He was on the same page as I was as far as not wanting to do unnecessary interventions, was willing to wait for me to go into labor on my own (my other 2 doctors were pressuring to induce me, even though I never even made it to 41 weeks with either baby), and very supportive of my birth plan. So, what was the problem this time around, I was still going to the hospital, but hoping for a more home-like experience (dim lights, candles lit, music playing in the background....) What I remember most about this birth was my poor, scared nurse, sitting on the end of my bed, telling me no to push until my doctor arrived, and my husband telling her that everything was alright and that he would catch the baby if the baby arrived before the doctor. My doctor was great and stood at the end of the bed with his hands folded, encouraging me and telling me that everything was normal and ok. It really sticks out in my mind that his hands were folded together, and not holding a pair of scissors or any other medical instruments.
So, I'm pregnant again and expecting our 4th baby in a few more months. This time around, I chose a midwife and to birth at a free standing birthing center. This is what I was searching for with my previous births!! I happen to know this birthing center well, as I also work there, so I have seen many births in this atmosphere. The midwife, is present throughout labor, not only for the last 10 minutes or so. There are no hospital beds or gowns, but a real bed, and I can wear my own clothes, play my own music, light candles and dim the lights if I want. There are even birthing tubs, birthing balls, and birthing stools. When you walk into one of the birthing rooms, there is a peaceful feeling, not a feeling of sterility.
I have confidence in my midwives, I know their medical training and that they are capable of handling any situation that may arise during birth. I worked in the ICU as a nurse for 6 years, so my first instinct is always to plan for the worst case scenario. What if something goes wrong and I am not at the hospital? But they have already planned for the worst as well, emergency equipment and medications are on hand at all times, the hospital is one block away, and only low-risk women are allowed to birth at the birthing center.
I can't wait to share my next birth story. While I know that birth is unpredictable, I feel that I have finally found the environment that will be most supportive of me and my baby, throughout labor, not just for the climax of birth.