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