Thursday, July 31, 2008

Using a Midwife

I'm hoping to be able to use a midwife for this pregnancy. I had a regular doctor for my first two children, but I didn't really care for it. It was a very impersonal experience. I DESPISED spending all that time in a waiting room at the doctor's office (particularly with my second child, because I had to drag a toddler with me to every appointment). I also had an epidural for my first two pregnancies. They were both horrible experiences. For my first baby I was about 36 hours in labour, so the epidural was my saviour - it allowed me to get some much-needed rest, which I never would have gotten with all that contracting. However, they turned it off when I reached 9 cm, so I went from feeling absolutely nothing to being in excruciating pain all at once. I'm pretty sure my body was in a state of shock; my husband said he was actually scared because I seemed delerious with the pain. I was completely dysfunctional. For my second child, my labour (including delivery!) was only 4 hours. I received the epidural but he was born before it even kicked in. Given how quickly my last delivery happened, I suspect this one will go even faster, so I know I can do it without any drugs.

In my province, midwifery has just been legalized this year, so there are very few midwives here. I actually had a lot of trouble tracking one down. It's also not yet covered by our provincial health plan (although it should be very, very soon!), so I'm not sure how much it will cost us to use a midwife at this point. That will definitely be a deciding factor. And the one midwife in this area is apparently very choosy about who she will work with, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she will take me on as a patient!

We're on the fence about doing a home birth. Well, I'm on the fence. My husband is not. He says he absolutely wants a hospital birth. I love the idea of doing a home birth, but there's a tiny part of me that likes the idea of having a medical back-up system just in case things don't go as planned.

I would love to hear from any of you who have used a midwife and/or had a home birth. What was your experience? Have you done it both ways? Which did you prefer?


  1. I think that is an awesome idea. If you've had two relatively "easy" (meaning normal, safe) pregnancies and births I think a midwife is a no-brainer! I have no experience with using one myself and I LOVED my OB/GYN (he was young, informed and respected my decisions) but I only hear good things. Have you ever read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth? She's a pioneer in the field and I highly recommend the read!

  2. I had a homebirth with our son. I was in labor for 45 hours, and the longest break between contractions was about 18 minutes. I was one tired mama by the time our little guy arrived! That said, I'm so so glad that we were at home. I'm sure that in a hospital I'd have been hooked up to Pitocin at the very least, and probably a c-section (failure to progress - I was stuck at 9 cm for 7 hours, and actually went backwards to 8 cm for a while). Our midwives were great. We felt safe and secure the whole time, and I would never do it any other way.
    But... I think homebirth is only a good idea if you and your husband are really confident in the idea. Birth is such a combination of mental and physical - I think that if you're nervous about where you are, it could make for a rough birth just because you wouldn't be relaxed.
    I second the nod to Ina May Gaskin's book - it's awesome, and might serve to alleviate your husband's worries. The more you read about homebirth, the less scary it sounds and the more it makes sense.
    Talk about it between the two of you, read as much as you can, and then make whatever decision feels best for you. Good luck!! And who knows, this baby might come so fast that you wouldn't even make it to the hospital anyway :)

  3. At this point I'm not close to being a candidate for homebirth. In fact, the midwives at the wonderful birth center I used for the last two pregnancies pretty much said I should do a hospital birth, so I've just found a great new ob.

    That said, there is so much I was looking forward to there that I will miss out on. Having more freedom in means of pain relief would have been great (eating, movement). The birth center environment felt like home and was calm and peaceful. The midwives were so much better on a personal level than any of the (many) doctors I've seen. In fact, even after it seemed unlikely I'd be back to them, they called to check up on me several times after my last miscarriage. I think they put the mom higher in their priorities than the doctors do.

    I know people who have loved homebirths, but I also believe that you never know what will happen. Maybe I just have too many doctor friends telling us that, but I think they have a strong point. So for us, a birth center connecting to a hospital, with the hospital right across the street, was the perfect compromise. Remember, part of the reason midwives have better outcomes is that they mostly won't take even marginally risky people (like me - there has been nothing found wrong with me, I just have had too many miscarriages).

    You'll just have to discuss it together. I also think Ina May's book is worth a look. It's important that your husband is comfortable with it too.

    What I'm taking comfort in is that whatever birth option you end up with, that's just a small (though significant) part of the whole experience. After unmedicated labor for a dead baby (in the middle of a hospital! long story of stupid policies), I don't think it's likely I'll get worse than that in the future. Knowing that I made it through that is comforting. A safe birth with a healthy baby is the most important thing. It's easy to get wrapped up in the details, but it will all be fine.

    Good luck!


  4. Thanks for your input, guys!

    I contacted our provincial health department, and they will not be funding midwifery until after the new year. And even then it will not be in our area; they have selected 3 pilot sites in our province, and our hospital is not one of them. So we would be funding this one on our own. I met up with someone who is using the same midwife that I had found, and she said their total fees will be about $2,000.00. That's based on a sliding scale, and I'm pretty sure our income is higher than hers, so I'm guessing it would cost us around $3,000. It's awfully tempting to go with a free hospital birth using a doctor, rather than pay this expense.

    The good news is I have plenty of time to research and ponder this decision, and talk it over with my husband. Since midwifery isn't fully legalized, I still have to consult with my physician, as midwives are not allowed to order blood work or ultrasounds. So I'll go ahead and make an appointment with my doctor while we decide on the midwife thing - and I'll keep you posted!

  5. We paid our midwife $3000, which was not covered by insurance. Painful, but worth it to us. Midwives in our state are able to order bloodwork, etc, which was a bonus. We had to go to a lab for the blood draws, but they sent all the results to her so that she could go over them with us (while giving me a foot massage, which was a regular part of the prenatal care - love it!)

  6. Ooooh, I think I would pay $3,000 for the foot rubs alone!! You've just upped the ante. :) lol

  7. Even if you end up choosing a hospital birth I still recommend checking out Ina May's book. It will help you have the birth you want, no matter where you are!

  8. I think I will definitely check out the book. The friend I mentioned who is doing the home birth has a fairly extensive library on natural family living, I'm sure she must have it - I'll see if I can borrow it. :)

  9. I've done both - hospital and home births, both with midwives. With my first (hospital) birth, it was best that we were there - long long labour, etc. His head was tilted, and he had to be pulled out (forceps) - although it would likely have been a section if it was with a doctor.

    Second birth at home, easy peasy (as easy as it COULD be, anyway). We live very close to the hospital though (I could be there in less then 10 minutes by ambulance, should that be needed - 15 minutes door to door with parking if there was only light traffic) so that helped.

    But midwives are funded provincially here in Ontario. If you have more questions, though, feel free to email me!

  10. I had a midwife for all three births and all of them were delivered in the hospital. It was the happy medium for both my husband and I. TUrns out, I'm a wimp and asked for drugs every single time. :)

    But, I will never go to a OB/GYN for all the reasons you have stated. My midwife was awesome. So personal, invested and caring. I trusted her completely.

    Good luck!