Sean and I have made the decision to switch to a midwifery group in our area. We came to this conclusion after examining several factors. First, my OB is 45 min away and delivers at a hospital 1 hr away. The midwives are 10min away and give you the option to deliver at their birthing center or at a hospital which is 15min away from our home. Second, I get the vibe from my OB practice that they would not 100% respect my plan for a natural birth. At our very first appt, I asked about their views and the doc told me, "It's your choice, but just know that epidurals were invented by women for women. If you want to be in pain, I don't really care." Not exactly the level of support I was hoping for. They also deliver at a hospital that has one of the highest C-section rates in our area and has the reputation of being the place to go if you are "too posh to push." Finally, while most of our appts have been ok, I just don't feel a level of personal care from the group. At the midwifery group, I feel like you become part of a family, which is what I loved so much about my RE's practice.
At this point, I feel like it is time for a disclaimer. Birthing a child is a very personal decision and people have very strong feelings regarding the process. I am simply sharing my experiences and impressions. I am by no means trying to preach to anyone or convince anyone that my choice is the better one or pass judgement on one birth choice over another. I respect your childbirth choices and hope that you will respect mine.
Ever since I was a young woman, I have always desired a natural birth experience. Going through invasive fertility treatments only strengthened my desire to do so. My mom had me naturally, I have a sister in law who had an amazing home birth, and I feel like I have been exposed to many positive birth stories that have further convinced me that this is what I want. Since starting my 2nd trimester I have begun to read and research my options regarding natural childbirth. I read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth and although I found it a little difficult to relate to some of the birth stories in the beginning, the book really spoke to me and I learned a lot. In case you are wondering, my issue with some of the birth stories in the beginning is that I do not live on a commune and I didn't feel it was an accurate representation of how the modern woman in 2009 has a natural childbirth. Inspiring? Absolutely. In addition to the book, I joined a natural birth group online and began reading natural birth stories. All of this convinced me that I needed to explore options other than my OB's office, which led me to discover the midwives and their birthing center.
Sean & I toured the birthing center on Monday night and loved it. I wasn't sure how Sean felt going into it; I kinda thought he might just be humoring me, but in the end, he was 100% on board. There were 12 couples touring and that was exciting to me. One of the midwives spoke to us for over and hour and then opened the floor to questions before we toured the center. There are 3 midwives and an OB on staff and they are affiliated with our local hospital. Patients have a few options when they choose to become a patient of the practice. As long as you have a routine pregnancy, you can choose to deliver at the birthing center with the midwives. If it is more within your comfort level, you can deliver at the local hospital with the midwives. If you choose a hospital delivery, your midwife will stay by your side the entire time and work within hospital policies to accommodate your birth plan. The final possibility is if you are high risk in any way, you must deliver at the hospital. Again, your midwife will be at your side and help you achieve your goals and still have your high risk condition monitored in a hospital environment.
Ideally, as long as I continue to have a healthy, low risk pregnancy we would like to deliver at the birthing center, but I still have to sit down one on one with the midwives and make sure this is our best option.
Here are some highlights from our tour:
- There are 3 birthing suites that look just like a master bedroom.
- Each suite has a water birthing jacuzzi tub. YAY!
- There is a full kitchen and there are no restrictions on mom being able to eat or drink during labor.
- Mom is not required to have an IV during labor, but they are available in the event of dehydration.
- No artificial means of induction (no pitocin, cytotec, cervadil etc...)
- They will not rupture membranes.
- Fetal monitoring only done with a doppler so Mom has full range of motion.
- No time limit on labor.
- Birthing chair, stool and ball available in each suite.
- Fully equipped for emergencies (resuscitation equipment, oxygen, anti-hemorrhage meds etc...)
- Right next to a fire station and an 8 min. ambulance ride to the hospital in the event of an emergency.
- C-section rate of 8%, compared to 49% in the local hospital.
- Episiotomies performed rarely - once or twice per year or less - compared to 79% of all vaginal deliveries at the local hospital.
- Cord is allowed to pulsate for 5 min. before cutting.
- Baby is not removed from Mom until Mom is ready - most babies bond with mom and dad for about 2 hours before they are removed in anyway.
- You can go home within 4hrs of delivery if you have showered, peed and eaten.
- No limit on the number of family and friends that can be present.
- You can change your mind and head to the hospital at any point.
If you have had a natural birth or a birthing center delivery, I would love to hear more about your experiences!