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Should I Choose a Midwife During Pregnancy?

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

A few months after my daughter’s birth, I posted a video on YouTube talking about my reasons for choosing a midwife and doula. A few years later, I still agree with my choices. My husband and I do not use hormonal birth control so there is always a chance of another baby in our future. With that being said, I still feel like I would choose a midwife over a traditional OB/GYN. In this article, I’m giving you my top reasons for STILL choosing a midwife for pregnancy, birth and postpartum care.

1. I prefer a patient-centered experience

As a highly sensitive person, this has been the case for most things in my life. I have always needed a genuine human connection. What I’ve found in the standard medical model is that healthcare is a business first. Patient satisfaction is a priority, but it also comes at a price. As a business, hospitals and doctor’s offices must provide a certain level of care that would guarantee that everyone is treated the same (and hopefully that means well). This pushes hospitals to achieve a very high standard of care. Unfortunately, that doesn’t lend itself nicely to an individualistic model of care. Hospitals and doctor’s offices often come with rigid practices and guidelines that do not consider each individual patient.

If you are looking for a more individualized care plan, you will likely find it outside of the standard medical route. Midwives tend to have a smaller clientele who are looking for a patient-centered experience. They provide the same level of care for most things relating to birth; however, they often work with birthing people who want to birth unmedicated. Midwives do not offer common hospital pain medications (such as narcotics or epidurals) so they tend to have more of a willingness to accommodate and comfort mothers in labor.

Being accommodated throughout my pregnancy was super important to me because of my history. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know that I was sexually assaulted a few years ago and I also experienced a miscarriage right before conceiving my daughter. Those were huge driving forces in my search for a provider! Pregnancy is one of the most vulnerable times a woman will ever experience. I needed to know that the person I worked with truly understood and was willing to work through those sensitive topics with me. When speaking to my midwife, it was apparent right away that her number one goal was bodily autonomy. Every step of my pregnancy (and every test or intervention) was thoroughly explained to me on multiple occasions prior to having to decide about it. I felt safe, supported and autonomous throughout my pregnancy.

If this is something that is super important to you, I would consider a midwife!

2. You have more “access” to them

I can’t speak for every midwife in the world, but I’ve found that most of them are more accessible than OB/GYNs in a few ways.

a. Longer appointments

They tend to schedule each patient for longer blocks of time during prenatal visits. For example, my prenatal visits with my midwife were always scheduled in a one-hour block. During those visits, I never felt rushed. In fact, I would often be the one checking the clock and ready to go. This was super comforting for me because I always had the feeling that I was welcome and cared for by my provider. This has never been the case for me when visiting the OB/GYN office.

b. Direct communication

There were two midwives who ran the birth center that I chose. At the first session, I was given direct contact information for both. This was very comforting because whenever I had a question or concern, I had almost immediate access to them. OB/GYNs tend to operate out of an office which requires a chain of communication before getting a response from them. This may take hours or even days. If you’re a person like me, that’s just unacceptable when it comes to pregnancy related issues.

c. Variety of locations

I’ve found that midwives offer more flexibility with location for prenatal visits and birth. I will get more into the locations for birth in the next section. Midwives may attend prenatal visits in birth centers, doctor’s offices and even at home. It usually all depends on the setting you choose for your birth. If you are birthing at a hospital, you will likely go to some sort of office for your prenatal visits. If you choose a birth center, you may have visits at the center or at home. If you choose a home birth, you will very likely have all your visits in the comfort of your own home.

3. More options for birthing location

Midwives are usually available in multiple settings. Certified Nurse Midwives, CNMs, can serve patients in hospitals, clinics, birth centers, and at home. Certified midwives (CMs) and Certified Professional midwives (CPMs) are usually found in birth centers and for home births. Choosing to work with a midwife automatically opens you up to a variety of choices for birth. As far as I know, OB/GYNs only perform deliveries in the hospital setting. You will not be able to have one as your provider if you’re looking to give birth outside of the hospital.

4. Labor and Delivery Specialists

If you were to google an OB/GYN’s scope of practice, you will find that they are truly specialists in women’s health. They are involved in many aspects of women’s health including reproduction/fertility, cancer, hormonal issues and more. On any given day, an OB/GYN may see just a few pregnant patients along with a variety of different (non-pregnant) patients. I’m sure I will get some pushback for saying this, but I genuinely feel more comfortable knowing that a midwife’s main jam is pregnancy and birth. While midwives do serve women who are not pregnant, the main part of their day is dedicated to prenatal care, birth, and postpartum care. Ideally, the more you practice a specific thing, the better you get at it. In my eyes, that means that they are truly birth specialists! Midwives are experts in “normal” physiological birth. They tend to understand the nuances and variations of normal childbirth. They can recognize when there is a need for more intensive intervention, which is usually provided by an OB/GYN. This was especially important because I was choosing to have an unmedicated, vaginal birth. In choosing a provider, I wanted someone who knew pregnancy and birth inside and out.

5. I trusted my gut

When you find out you’re pregnant for the first time, you are inundated with thoughts about what you are “supposed” to do. Once you announce to the world that you are expecting, everyone begins to give unsolicited advice about what you should do. Those pieces of advice are often relating to each person’s own personal experience with the same style of birth. The standard in the United States is a medicated, hospital birth. When I found out that I was pregnant, I began to do research on my options for prenatal care and birth. When I looked at the statistics, the US ranks very low on birth outcomes. This is especially true for women of color. I started to wonder why we continue to engage in a system that may be broken? At the end of the day, I decided to go against what everyone expected me to do, and I chose a provider based on what felt right to me! If I must do it again, I will absolutely choose a midwife.

When it comes down to it, you must trust your intuition. Our country is notorious for fear-mongering women into choosing a specific type of birth. This is done through scare tactics relating to birth complications and the pain of childbirth. I truly believe that a decision made in fear is not a trustworthy decision. Do your research, check to make sure it’s not a fear-based response, and do what seems right for you and your baby.

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