Birth Options: Why I Chose a Midwife
”If I don’t know my options, I don’t have any.” ~ Diana Korte
When I was pregnant with my first child, I immediately decided that I was going to have a natural labor and sought out midwives in my area. It was like second nature to me and there was no “talking me into it” because it just felt right.
However throughout my pregnancy, I met so many women who had no idea about birthing centers or midwives. There were some woman who were on their 2nd or 3rd who had bad experiences with the hospitals in previous births that did research and found out about other options… but I considered myself very lucky to have already knew about that world. I am not saying that all women who had births in hospitals had/have bad experiences or that their labor wasn’t beautiful (because all labors are beautiful!), and I don’t want to shame anyone who chose to go that route. But I want to put the knowledge out there that YOU and every other woman have a choice when it comes to your birth plan and I want to tell you about mine.
There is no interference. No sound. First contact is mine by right.
I reach for my baby and, instinctively, do what every uninterrupted mother
since the beginning of time has done. I cradle her to my left side, to my heart,
to where the first sound she hears is the steady and familiar beat of home.
She is slippery like a dolphin and oh so soft.
What is a Midwife?
Midwife seems like an old term – where knowledge was passed on from woman to woman about how to handle births. However, it is much more sophisticated today. There are actually many paths that can lead a woman to her midwifery certification & license (at least in the United States and Canada). The U.S has three midwifery credentials that can be achieved in order to become a midwife:
Certified Midwives (CM) : Women who are educated in Midwifery, and are certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board. (AMCB)
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) : Women who are educated in Midwifery and Nursing, and are certified through the AMCB.
Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) : Women who are very knowledgeable independent midwifery practitioners, and are certified through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). CPMs are the only midwives that have the credentials and knowledge about out-of-hospital births (i.e.: Birthing Centers & Home Births).
There are approximately 15,000 practicing midwives here in the United States, and they attend about 10% of U.S. births (including hospitals, birth centers, and home) and that number has been rising every year since 1989. I know many individuals have the same reaction when I mention an out-of-hospital birth….”is it safe?”
Well, If you are a healthy individual with no previous health issues, the answer should be YES! In fact according to a systematic review of studies comparing Physician care to Midwifery care in low risk pregnancies research showed that CNMs had:
Lower rates of cesarean births
Lower rates of labor induction and augmentation
Significant reduction in accidental third and fourth degree perineal tears
Lower use of regional anesthesia
Higher rates of breastfeeding
For CPMs a study in 2000 showed that home-births had a low rate of intrapartum and neonatal mortality. The study also showed that medical intervention rates for planned home births were lower than low risk hospital births. (source) I liked that this particular study mentioned, multiple times, the support that other countries showed in midwifery vs the U.S. Where, unfortunately, it’s not integrated into the healthcare system like most other countries with midwives attending around 70% of all births.
A midwife is the primary health care provider during your pregnancy, labor, birth & postpartum. But they are so much more than that, they are a friend, and are there to help you birth your baby, to make you feel empowered and satisfied. Husbands and Partners are also a big part of the birthing process, they are there to catch the babies, cut the cord, put the first piece of clothing on them, weigh and measure them and more. My appointments are relaxing, inviting, and comfortable….plus they involve Ava in certain parts, which makes her feel like she is helping. 😃 I love how the entire process involves the whole family, because that is what helps to create a healthy bond with the newest family member as well as make the pregnancy seem more exciting!
Communication is easy when it comes to having a midwife, with both my pregnancies I was able to shoot a text anytime I had a question or concern…because sometimes google can tell you the worst of the worst lol. Your midwife is there to listen to you, share their knowledge and give advice if needed. They are there to help you understand all your options, teach you different techniques to labor, help you make truly healthy decisions when it comes to your diet, talk about YOUR birth plan, allow you to incorporate cultural, religious, or personal rituals into your labor and birth. They want you to make these decisions for yourself, but are there to help if and when you need it.
Pregnancy feels more fun when you’re being treated as a normal human instead of a medical condition, which is what some moms have felt with their obstetricians. Although standard tests are performed during pregnancy with midwifery, the number of tests are much lower than from your typical hospital pregnancy. Don’t forget all those vaccines that are pushed on you and your baby at the hospital!
Unlike the movies, where the woman is strapped into a chair, legs opened and unable to get up and leave…birthing with a midwife is a complete 180. Birthing centers and obviously your home, provide space to walk around, eat (yes you are allowed to eat & drink!!), sit in the tub/shower, squat, dance….whatever your body is telling you to do, you’re allowed to do. (I personally have never been to a natural hospital birth so I don’t know the procedures there, if you have please let me know your experience in the comments down below and I can update this post letting other readers know!!) Your midwife will be monitoring and guiding you through this process to ensure that you’re both safe and relaxed well as giving emotional and sometimes even spiritual support.
Want your whole family in the room for support?
Want to play music on pandora and light candles?
Want to take a break and eat a snack?
Then….your baby comes. You or your husband/partner are one of the first ones to hold the baby. You get to immediately snuggle that little thing up to your chest, and experience the most love you will ever have for another human being….and the pain? There is none at this point…since there are no drugs in your body, it immediately starts creating some amazing stuff for you at this time. Nursing can begin as soon as you wish, and guess what? The midwife is there to help assist you with the nursing and help to get that little new life latched. They offer tons of breastfeeding support, awesome right?
Some birthing centers provide herbal baths for you and your new baby to enjoy, I loved being able to be the one to clean Ava and explore her little body…10 little fingers, 10 little toes, and one cute little nose! This was a very peaceful and pleasant time Shane and I got to have with her and I will never forget it.
Midwife and Baby
Birthing is hard, and not just for the mamas, but for the babies as well. My belief is that every baby deserves to be born gently, peacefully and surrounded in a comforting, loving environment. Inductions, vacuum extractions, surgical births (with U.S. cesarean rates over 32%), and a mother pumped up with drugs is not what a baby from a natural birth experiences. Birth is traumatic enough for a new life, and having the focus on mother-baby contact after birth is extremely important.
The bonding was already created from the moment baby heard mama’s heartbeat, laughter, and breath. But in the outside world, being with the one and only thing it’s familiar with is not only comforting but helps to enable baby to respond much quicker to life.
Delayed cord clamping is normal for a midwife and she will be the one to tell you the benefits of doing so. Like I mentioned earlier, the father can do the measuring and weighing of the baby….this is where you get to see the little feet sticking out *heart melts*. Your midwife will record these findings, as well as provide a complete newborn exam.
Postpartum visits usually consist of a 24 hour visit or phone call, 1-3 day office visit, 2 and 6 week office visits. But don’t forget all the lunch dates you will most likely have throughout the years.
Be sure to snap a photo & hashtag #omlivin of your family adventures! I would love to see your littles enjoying life!
The U.S. ranks behind most of the developed countries in terms of maternal and infant mortality rates. Birth has become more medical and less empowering, with the uses of epidurals, pain medications, antibiotics, we are making women believe that they cannot handle child birth.
“There is a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.”
~ Laura Stavoe Harm
We are strong, and our bodies were made to do this….not at the hands of a man in a scrub and a team of nurses, but with the nurturing care of another woman, who understands what you’re going through and is there to help guide you to your baby; peacefully, naturally & as gently as possibly.
Question of the Day:Did your birth plan go according to to the way you wanted? Let me know in the comments down below!
Written By: Ashleigh Nicole
Ashleigh is a mother & wife who enjoys blogging in hopes to change this world for the better. Wanting to heal others inside-out as well as healing our planet Earth. Her passions include balancing the mind through meditation, knowledge & conscious parenting, the body through plant based eating, alternative medicine, & yoga, and the soul through up cycling, gardening, & sustainability. Keep your life balanced & subscribe to her weekly emails, follow OmLivin’ on instagram, twitter, pinterest or check her out on Google+ for more.
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