As many of our family and friends know we have chosen to have a midwife guide us through this pregnancy and to be there for the delivery of our baby. It still surprises me just how many people are taken aback by this, who can’t quite understand why anyone would choose not to see a doctor. I guess I always assumed that in this day and age people would be more open to the idea … still some work to be done on that front I guess. So why did we choose a midwife?
Financially: We pay a lot of taxes here in Canada and these taxes are applied to medical services provided by both doctors and midwives but we feel we certainly are getting our money’s worth from the service we have received from our midwife. Of course I don’t have an experience of seeing an OB for pregnancy but I do have many stories from friends and family that I think justify my take on doctor visits. Our monthly visits to the midwifery centre are never less than an hour and we can ask as many questions as we want. Also, we have never waited for more than 15 minutes in the waiting room to see our care giver and before each visit we call ahead and if she is busy with another patient in labour her pager will say so, so we don’t go to the office needlessly. We simply reschedule for a couple of days later.
Outside of our monthly visits, any time I feel something is not right I can page my midwife and within five minutes she will call me back and assess the situation. If I were seeing a doctor and had a concern over the weekend I would have to go to the emergency wing of the hospital and see an unfamiliar doctor after waiting for some time presumably.
Furthermore the midwifery practice that we visit has a library in the waiting room that you can borrow from, everything from books on pre-natal health and home birth, to yoga DVD’s and documentaries
Greener: Births that are attended by midwives rather than physicians are less likely to require medical intervention. The most severe kind of medical intervention being delivery by cesarean section. Since 1996, the C-section rate has risen 46% in the US. In 2005, one in three babies were delivered via cesarean section. Cesareans are real surgery and carry with them the risk of infection and much longer recovery times for women. Of course they also involve the use of pharmaceuticals for the mum. While there are less severe forms of intervention like epidurals and pitocin, the wides spread use of these medicines is not good for the environment. Their residues, excreted by humans, are found in waterways and have been known to cause defects in fish and other small critters.
Comfort: Sustainable PF and I are fairly private people and don’t want a ton of unfamiliar people in the room when we have our baby. So I like the idea that when I do go into labour, it will be a familiar face there with me, helping me along and delivering the baby. A key point to emphasize is helping me along the whole way. A midwife will stay by your side once you are in active labour until you deliver whereas many doctors in hospitals will wander off and see other patients and come back every so often to check on you. Now it is possible that our primary midwife (who we will see for about 80% of our pre-natal visits) cannot attend he birth of our child because another patient has gone into labour before me. In that case we have two backup midwives who we will have met and had a couple of visits with before the end of the pregnancy. In other words, they will not be strangers to us and they will have a good understanding of our needs and desires for the labour and delivery.
Safety: I have heard many people say that they are less comfortable with the idea of seeing a midwife for their pregnancy and delivery especially if it is a home birth because they think if a doctor is not around things could go horribly wrong. The fact is every study has shown that a home birth is just as safe as a hospital birth with a professionally trained midwife attending. Moreover, with a home birth you are exposing your new child to only the germs in your house which he has for the most part already been exposed to in utero. A hospital environment is a while other story with all sorts of nasties floating around.
I think all in all what I have believed for some time and what has been reinforced by being pregnant and really thinking long and hard about how Sustainable PF and I want to bring lil’ SPF into this world is that there are options and that we as parents (yes even before the child is born) have the right to make those choices. We can choose to bring a baby into this world in a way that is more cost effective, greener and safe.
We would highly recommend to anyone interested in learning more about midwives and home birth to check out their local library, their local directory of midwife associations and also view this documentary: The Business of Being Born.