I will say it again, “I love midwives!” The difference in care I received in my two births couldn’t have been more different. In the typical OB appointment with my I would walk in and be handed a cup to pee in. Then I would wait in the waiting room until a nurse came to get me. After getting my weight and blood pressure I would wait in another room for the doctor. This part usually took 15-20 minutes. When he did finally come in, he would generally be in the room for 5 minutes. I don’t have any specific complaints about his care. In fact, he had been my doctor for ten years and I really like him. It is what I knew and I thought that everyone had the same experience. The day of my oldest son’s birth I had fantastic nurses and a wonderful midwife in triage. I was excited that my OB was on-call that weekend because I had really only met the other doctors in his practice for a few minutes. My doctor came in to say hi toward the beginning, came in a few hours later to break my water, and was called in as the baby was crowning to catch him and sew up my tears. In total he probably spent 30 minutes in my room. This did not seem weird to me because this is what I had seen with other friends.
With my second son I decided that I wanted a homebirth. The decision had more to do with my doula training and confidence in my own body than it did with my prior experience. I basically decided that I was not ill and therefore did not have to be in a hospital to give birth. Along with the homebirth came my homebirth midwives. I chose a practice that had 3 midwives. All 3 of the women were wonderfully sweet and extremely knowledgable. In a typical appointment I would arrive with my son and sit in the comfortable sitting room outside of their office while they finished up their previous appointment. If they were running late they would invite me to make myself some tea while I waited. When we went in, my son would imediately gravitate toward a big basket of toys. I would sit down and we would talk. They would ask questions, I would ask questions, and we had a real conversation about what was going on. This usually lasted 30-40 minutes. After we were done discussion everything we could think of, they would do their physical exam. They took my blood pressure, listened to the baby’s heart rate using a fetoscope, and felt my belly for size and position. They would ask me if I was comfortable at every step. They never pushed me to do anything, even to weigh myself. The day of his birth, two of the midwives were at my house from about 11:00pm until 8am. They gave me continuous support the entire time, but they also gave me personal space when I decided that I needed it. They were never pushy or judgemental. There was a point toward the end that they were a little concerned, but they did a wonderful job of keeping everyone calm and taking control of the situation. In the end, my son was born at 5:46 am in my bed with my family around me. The midwives impressed my mom and in-laws with their professionalism and efficiency. After cleaning up and making sure we were okay, they left us to rest. I had 2 more appointments in my home and one in their office. They asked me questions about the baby, about my own recovery, and helped me understand what was going on during my labor. I have never felt so well cared for in my life.
I know that homebirth is not for everyone. I was very low risk and I was confident that everything would go well. I knew that I did not want to be in a hospital, but that if anything went wrong it was only ten minutes away. For those that choose a hospital birth, however, there are still wonderful midwives available. From the people I have talked to, the experience with Certified Nurse Midwives is closer to my second experience than my first. They tend to talk more, listen more, and spend more time with their client than most OBs. Of course every doctor and midwife is different and I can only really speak to my own experience, but to me there is no contest. I would choose a midwife over an OB every time.