Posted on May 5, 2014
Happy International Day of the Midwife
I love midwives. I’ve had midwives as my care providers for each of my four pregnancies, and they’ve attended my four births, either at a birth center or at home.
Since today is International Day of the Midwife, I’ve been thinking all day of how my midwives made a difference in my journey throughout pregnancy, labor and those precious first few weeks after birth.
Now, if you know me, you know how I can go on and on (and on) about midwifery care, so I tried really hard to keep this short. I really did!
They taught me what birth is really about. Other than the ins and outs of pregnancy, labor and birth, I learned that pregnancy and birth are a sacred journey, one that should be honored and respected. Not a medical disability to be intervened with and managed. This change in perspective alone made the biggest difference.
They taught me the ins and outs of pregnancy, labor and birth. My husband and I learned so much during our pre-natal visits, and we learned tons during the birth classes offered by our midwives. These ultimately empowered us in our journey to four non-medicated natural births.
My pre-natal appointments were not rushed. During my first pregnancy, I remember my pre-natal visits with my ob-gyn lasting barely five minutes. Being a first-time soon-to-be mom, I had no idea what pregnancy was all about. During one of my appointments, I asked my doctor a question about what I should expect to be normal at that time. His response? He told me to read the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Maybe he misunderstood and thought I asked for a book recommendation.
At around my fifth month of pregnancy, I switched care to a group of midwives at a birth center. My appointments were the complete opposite. It was almost like sitting down with friends to talk about my pregnancy. The midwives did not rush our appointments, which often lasted between 30 minutes up to even an hour, making sure they addressed any and all concerns I had during my visit, and offering tips and information that could be helpful at the time. For a first-timer who didn’t even know what to ask about, this kind of support was invaluable. Even during my fourth time around, sitting down with my midwife during each visit was still priceless.
Post-partum support. This alone is reason enough to have a midwife. Most providers will see you once, at six weeks after giving birth. Six weeks may not seem like a long time, but after giving birth, your body goes through a million changes and you have just as many questions. Most midwives will have seen you and your newborn five to six times by your six week check-up. And some of those visits, will be at your house. Yes, you heard me right – in the comfort of your home.
Breast-feeding support. As they say, “breast is best,” but I think the majority of new moms (if not all) are shocked by how hard it is. My midwives were invaluable, teaching me about the importance of breastfeeding during pre-natal appointments and birth classes, and employing breastfeeding-friendly birth practices. Right after birth, they ensured plenty of skin to skin between me and my babes, making sure baby latched on. They encouraged me to keep the baby on my breast for even up to an hour or longer, allowing for plenty of bonding with baby, before they even began with the newborn exam, such as weighing and measuring the baby. Their support continued throughout the post-partum visits, checking for any breastfeeding issues or challenges, and always checking to see if I was still doing my latches correctly. In between visits, they made themselves available for questions or concerns that I had.
When in doubt, call the midwife. I remember the fear I felt leaving the birth center after having my first son. I’d never had a baby before and was very nervous about messing things up. I remember as we headed home, wondering if they’d made the right decision in letting me leave with the baby. Ha, those new-mommy jitters! However, as nervous as I was, having them available a phone call away was very reassuring. I remember my husband and I calling the birth center with all sorts of baby and post-partum questions in between our visits. Since that time, I have called, texted and even Facebooked my midwives about so many things, from breastfeeding, to post-partum bleeding, to suggestions on how to treat baby’s cold.
I’m gonna have to stop here, otherwise, I’m never going to publish this post!
My hope is that if you are planning to have a baby, you will consider having a midwife as your care provider. And if you’ve used a midwife before, make sure to share your experience in the comments below!