Using a Midwife – One Year Later – The Experience

The following is discussion about our experience using a midwife.  I have had a year to reflect on having a home birth with the aid of a midwife.  The financial reasons to use a midwife at home were great but pale in comparison to the experiences I had, and did not have to have, by having a home birth.

With the home birth I think I had a better overall experience using a midwife than if I had given birth in a hospital. Granted I have never had a hospital birth but I have seen many, many birth videos and have heard many, many accounts of hospital births from friends and family.

The first thing to remember for home births is 5-1-1 timing rule. If your contractions have been occurring every five minutes, lasting one minute for an hour it is time to call the midwife.

This isn’t some mad dash to the car and frantic drive to the hospital. You call the midwife, describe what is happening and she will drop by, no matter the time of day or night. If, after an exam, she determines that it is best for her to stay put, she unpacks and stays for the duration of your labour.

For every minute of the labour your midwife is there to …

  • check that you are ok,
  • ensure the baby is ok,
  • answer any questions you or your partner has,
  • help you into a bath,
  • hold a bucket as you throw up,
  • coach you through your breathing when pushing,
  • check you after you have delivered the baby (note a secondary midwife will come before you start pushing to care for the baby) ,

I could add more  but I think it is obvious that your midwife is there for you the whole way through the delivery. Aside from essential activities such as checking yours and the babies heartbeat regularly or examining you after delivery she can be there in whatever capacity you need her to be. For me, I was sort of in my own zone and preferred to be left to labour alone in that zone unless I asked specifically for something. And the midwives respected that.

Something that people often forget and I myself only really realized late into my pregnancy is that birth is not only something that a soon to be mother goes through, the baby is about to go through quite an experience too. This was a strong reason as to why I wanted to be at home where we could control more of our environment.

Primarily I wanted to be able to control the atmosphere. We dimmed the lights (or rather we only had one lamp turned on as it was the middle of the night) and everyone was pretty quiet through labour (my grunting aside). When lil’ SPF came out we had a small lamp on but the room was not bright at all. You have to remember that these little babies are coming from absolute darkness and warmth to cold, harsh light. So being at home we could make that transition from womb to earth a little easier. We learned in our tour of the hospital in town as well as in our prenatal class that you can have the lights dimmed in your hospital room while labouring but that the doctor will flick them on when he comes to check you and especially for the delivery.

In my experience labour and giving birth was a beautiful experience but it was also uncomfortable, challenging and painful. Once I knew I was really in labour I thought, ok I better get mentally prepared for this because there are no breaks and the more you progress the more intense it gets. To be honest sometimes you just want to say, ok, stop, let me regroup, relax, maybe watch a tv show, etc. But you can’t do that. So to help make the experience as beautiful as it can be, being at home enables that. I could sit on my couch, lie in my bathtub, pet my dog (who watched through nearly the entire labour). I felt safe and as comfortable as I could be because I was in my comfort zone, my home.

What I hope readers can learn from this post is that home-births assisted by a midwife are safe and aren’t scary. What I really hope for is that more women realize that they have this option that the second they become pregnant they don’t immediately have go to an OB. If you are healthy, the baby is healthy and the pregnancy is low risk, you can have a baby at home with a midwife and I can quite certain that it will be a better experience than that of a hospital.

Furthermore, women need to trust themselves more. I can’t remember if I read this somewhere or if someone mentioned it in conversation but the words wrung true: “You are going to have the labour that your body can handle so trust your body to do what it can do. It really will amaze you. ” When I think back on lil’ SPF’s birth I still can’t believe that I gave birth to him and it was me that pushed him out. Labour and delivery were such an unknown and I was very anxious about it. But as soon as I went into labour I just thought go with your body, put the brain on pause and let the body do its thing and I just went with the flow.

Finally, if you want to hear more accounts of why to choose a midwife check out some videos here: http://www.youtube.com/user/OntarioMidwives

What you like to see in a midwife experience? What was your experience using a midwife?

25 comments to Using a Midwife – One Year Later – The Experience

  • I gave birth with a midwife (two actually) two years ago, and it was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to do it again.

  • My wife had one baby with an OB in the hospital, and one birth with a midwife in the hospital. The experience with the midwife was SO much better! The care was far more personal, she didn’t act like she knew better about everything, she listened to us. She also paid attention to how the baby was coming out and helped my wife through the pushing so she didn’t tear at all (unlike when the OB tuned out completely and had to stitch her back together). The experience was excellent. Having a home birth wasn’t an option for us with complicated pregnancies, but our other reason for the hospital was because we didn’t have to clean it up :)

    • Hi Wayne. So glad you had a good experience with a midwife. Totally agree the level of care is great and yes they really do listen to the mom to be, they trust that our bodies know what to do much more than OB’s I think. Also, we found there was no mess to clean up because as I had a shower after lil’SPF was born they cleaned it all up and I came back to a freshly made bed!

  • Can you do a midwife but still have an epidural or does just not happen?

    • Hi Evan, good question. If you have a home birth assisted by a midwife an epidural is not an option as there is no anesthesiologist to administer it. However the midwives can bring laughing gas if you request it which the mom can self administer and I am told it takes the edge off the pain. If you had a hospital birth assisted by a midwife than an epidural could be possible although your midwife would likely encourage you to pass on it unless it was really necessary (which could be the case for a say a mom who has been in labour for a very long time and needs a break from the pain so she can push the baby out).

  • This is a great post! My sister is being trained as a mid wife and her favourite births are the home births. She says it’s so much more peaceful and easier on everyone involved. Unfortunately using a mid wife isn’t an option in my province yet, hopefully by the time I’m ready to have a baby, there will be a few here!

    • Hi Jordann, thanks for the comment, glad your sister is becoming a midwife, we need more of them! What province do you live in? I was not aware it was not an option anywhere in Canada, more that it is sometimes very hard to find one in some parts of Canada.

  • I haven’t had children yet, so take this with a grain of salt, but I pretty much love anything that knocks me out so I don’t have to deal with pain. That statement/sentiment could change if i feel that a midwife is a better decision for my future child.

  • Sounds like a great experience. Our daughter was born naturally at the hospital with only the laughing gas being used. Apparently it doesn’t really lessen the pain, you still feel it all, but your mind just doesn’t really care about it as much as in you don’t focus on the pain as much.

    I can’t definitely see the advantages of doing it this way – it sounds much more relaxing and comfortable for everyone involved. I think I would still be nervous though about something major going wrong and not having a doctor there to deal with it if necessary.

    • That is good to know about the laughing gas SavingMentor, will keep that in mind if we have another lil’SPF. A lot of people are nervous about something going wrong but a midwife is trained for all situations and they can do a lot.

  • I’m glad to see someone with a positive home birth experience. We had a home birth for our son and while it wasn’t perfect, it was very special and comforting experience.

    One caveat that we did have is that, at least in some states in the US, there are few regulations for someone to call herself a midwife. As such, we sought out the services of a Certified Nurse Midwife, who has a nursing degree and many hours of clinical experience. It did also help that we had an awesome doula who was probably more important than the midwife for everything but the actual birth.

    Our awesome midwife moved to Canada, though, to escape the ridiculous US restrictions on home births. We’ll either have to move, or more likely we’ll have to find another midwife should we have more kids.

    • Hi Him, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to not be able to choose a homebirth because the government is still so backwards about it. Would there be an option for you to give birth in a birthing centre with a midwife? the next best thing after a home birth I think.

  • Laura

    Did you tear? I’ve never given birth so I don’t know either way but I’d think there was a great chance you’d tear if it was all natural.

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