I Was Wrong About Midwives, And You Probably Are Too
As soon as I saw those two pink lines, I made the call to my OBGYN office to schedule my first appointment. I was so excited and it was so hard waiting for that day to finally arrive. (We found out at 4 weeks, and couldn’t be seen until I hit at least 8 weeks). I thought there would be a lot more to it, but the first appointment is pretty much just to confirm pregnancy, which was made possible thanks to that super fun transvaginal probe.
As I’m sure everyone does, I had a million questions. My doctor answered some of them, but then asked if I’d heard of Centering Pregnancy. I hadn’t. It’s a program that the Midwives run which groups several women at the same stage in pregnancy to help them prepare for their new arrival. The women meet regularly to discuss various topics pertinent to pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and also receive their regular prenatal care. These meetings would take the place of pregnancy check-ups with the doctor. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think. Didn’t I want regular check-ups with the doctor? Midwives? I didn’t really know much about midwives, and wasn’t sure I should put my prenatal care in their hands.
My 12 week appointment was scheduled with one of the Midwives at the practice, Vanessa. She was one of the sweetest people I’d ever met, and the complete opposite of what I’d been accustomed to with most doctors. Most doctors are very clinical in their thinking and demeanor. Understandable. Although Vanessa was able to answer all my questions just like the doctor would, she did it more like a friend, than a physician. When I heard my daughter’s heartbeat for the first time, I felt like she was just as excited as I was. She also further explained the Centering program, and I told her I’d give it a shot.
Although I was skeptical at first, Centering was one of the best decisions I made regarding my pregnancy. I learned so much during those meetings, both from our super awesome Midwife, Maureen, and from the other ladies in there with me. Things that I would have been oblivious to if I was only getting 15 minutes with the doctor each month. I felt extremely prepared for the birth, and more empowered than scared.
When I went into labor, Vanessa was the midwife on call. During my extremely long labor, she was there the entire time, making sure everything was progressing well. I felt like she was my personal cheerleader. Vanessa helped coach me through probably the toughest thing I’ll ever do. I believe, had I been strictly under the care of a physician, that I would have ended up having a C-section.
What do you picture when you think of a “Midwife?” There are so many misconceptions out there, based on completely outdated information. Here are several common Myths about Midwives that need to be debunked:
Midwives have limited education and training
Although there are different types of midwives who hold different certifications, nearly all midwives hold a Masters Degree, and have to pass a national certification exam. A Masters Degree is actually now required for Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Midwives to practice midwifery.
Midwives only attend home deliveries
Although they can attend a home delivery, 95% of all midwife-attended births are in a hospital. Many hospitals now have an in-house Midwifery service.
Midwives only allow “natural” birth experiences
You are able to utilize the same pain relief options that you would with a Physician. Midwives advocate for the kind of birth that YOU want to have. If that includes an epidural, IV pain medications, relaxation techniques, or anything else to help you cope, they do everything possible to help stick to your birth plan.
You’re safer with a Physician
In the case of emergency, a midwife is always backed up by a physician on call. However, midwives prevent many C-sections with less interventions. They are more hands on with their patients so you don’t feel abandoned, and are there with you the entire time. Midwives also are able to help prevent or reduce perineal tearing due to their hands-on approach and patience.
Midwives are only needed during labor and delivery.
Totally not the case. Midwives can do everything except perform surgery. They handle your prenatal and postnatal care, perform annual gynecological exams, place IUDs and Nexplanons, and write prescriptions. They even get additional training (that physicians do not) in order to care for the infant up to 30 days postpartum.
As you can see, modern day Midwives are far from the image you probably had in your head. They are extremely qualified, and are the preferred choice for women who want a more patient-centered approach to their pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I’m so thankful that my OBGYN office and our hospital are completely supportive of midwifery care, and I look forward to the day when all hospitals offer this same great experience!