Long before I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to have midwifery care. It was the first decision I made in preparation for pregnancy and birth. Now, looking back as the mother of a 5 1/2-year-old and a 2-year-old, I’m glad that I made that decision. I’ve had two midwife-attended births, and I would choose to have another if I became pregnant again.
I made the choice to seek midwifery care for a few reasons. I wanted to get to know my health care provider, and choosing a midwife team allowed that. My midwives worked in pairs, and I became well-acquainted with both of them through prenatal visits. When I gave birth, it was with someone I knew and trusted. I had a goal of giving birth without medications, and with few or no interventions, and my midwives supported that. And I wanted to be involved in my own care. My midwives’ policy of informed consent, coupled with their hour-long prenatal appointments, ensured that I was able to make my voice heard.
When I wanted to know more about routine newborn procedures, my midwives took the time to answer my questions, and help me make the decision that was best for me. When I decided to forgo certain tests, and request others, they worked with me. I felt that I was part of a team, working together to ensure not only that my baby and I were healthy, but that we were really cared for.
Where I live, midwives are licensed and regulated. They are covered under our public health care system, in the same way that doctors are. They attend home births or hospital births, and offer follow-up visits at your home in the days after birth. I realize that this is not the case for everyone, and that different medical systems may lead to different choices. But I feel fortunate that my midwifery care was covered in the same way that any other prenatal care would have been covered. I was free to choose my care provider based on what was best for me.
Sometimes, complications arise that require midwives to refer their clients to an obstetrician. This happened during my first birth, when I went into labor at 34 weeks. But even in that high-risk situation, my midwives stayed with me as I gave birth, and provided follow-up care after my baby was born. They referred me, and I had an obstetrician, but they didn’t leave me. It meant so much to have them there to help me and advocate for me as I faced a very medicalized birth situation.
I am not sure where life will lead my children. But I know that they both got their starts with the help of some amazing midwives. I am so thankful to those women who stood with me, and guided me through my entry into motherhood.
Have you used midwifery care? Is it an option where you live? And what is important to you when you’re choosing a care provider for pregnancy and birth? I’d love to hear!