The Benefits of Choosing a Midwife

Welcome to the Allen's Naturally blog!  This week, we've asked Jillian to share with us about the benefits of choosing a midwife for prenatal care and delivery.  Jillian is "just an ordinary homeschooling mom of eight."  Yep, you read that right--she has eight children. Disclosure:  We're not doctors, so please always follow sound medical advice.  We hope you enjoy reading about one mom's perspective on using a midwife.   

I didn't always use a midwife. In fact, it wasn't until I became pregnant with my sixth that I finally made the switch from doctor to midwife.

Before that I had a total of four Obstetricians and delivered in three hospitals, so I really got a chance to experience different styles of care and hospital policies. At the time I didn’t like bouncing from one doctor to the next, but it really gave me an appreciation for how different midwives are.

It took me a long time to realize the benefits of having a midwife. Although births attended by midwives continue to gain in popularity, they still only make up about 11% of births in the United States. It's definitely not mainstream, much like using cloth diapers or perfume & dye free products. If choosing a midwife is something that you've never given much thought to, I'd like to share a few benefits to having a midwife attend your birth.

But first, not all midwives are created equal. Some deliver only in hospitals, others do just home births, and some do a combination of both. 

You need to find one that suits you're style of prenatal care and birthing philosophy. If you're hoping to have a water birth in your backyard while your other children play happily nearby, a midwife who primarily delivers in a hospital might feel uncomfortable under those circumstances, if she even attends homebirths.

But rest assured you can pretty much find a midwife that suits your needs since they tend to be adaptable and want to make you feel comfortable and happy with your pregnancy and labor experience.

So shop around by going online and searching for midwives in your area, ask friends and family, post on social media that you’re looking for a midwife, and don't give up!

Benefits of Choosing a Midwife

1. The biggest benefit to having a midwife is that it lowers your risk of unnecessary interventions. 

Since they tend to have a “hands off” approach and believe in letting your labor progress at it’s own pace, they are less likely to perform multiple vaginal exams and suggest the use of Pitocin. Studies have shown that both of these practices increase the risk of complications for both mom and baby.

2. Your prenatal visits will last a little longer. 

You won’t get the feeling that they’re rushing you out the door because they aren’t as overbooked as doctors tend to be. 

When I had obstetricians none of my appointments lasted longer than 10 minutes . I spent way more time in the waiting room than with my doctor. It was the nurse who would check my blood pressure and weigh me. The doctor would come in once that was done. 

With a midwife, expect to become friends. You’ll chat about how your pregnancy is going and any concerns you have. You’ll likely spend about a half hour with her and almost no time in the waiting room. That’s a huge benefit right there!

3. If you're having your baby in the hospital, you can expect your midwife to be there with you from beginning to end. 

You'll be in close contact with her and she'll arrive at the hospital shortly after you if she isn't already there. She'll be your caregiver the whole time. 

By contrast, when you have an OB they'll send you to the hospital where you are really at the mercy of whoever is on call that day. The doctor will arrive at some point to check your progress and then, depending on how much time they think you have left, they'll try to catch some Z's (after all, they'll likely have to be in the office next morning!) or they'll head back to the office to see as many of their patients as they can before they're called back to the hospital to deliver your baby. In my experience, the doctor always came just before I was about to deliver. Nurses who I had never met (some of them really sweet and others not so much) provided most of my care.

4. This last benefit is true only if you choose to have a home birth. You will never be more comfortable than in your own home. 

You're the queen of your castle and home is your sanctuary.

If you want to do laps around your neighborhood to get a sluggish labor going, you can.

If you want to rest without a million interruptions, you can.

If you want to have something more than ice chips to eat, you can.

I don't know about you, but labor makes me hungry, especially a long and slow-moving labor. A little fuel can go a long way in keeping you energized.

You'll also get to have your other children present if that's something that's important to you. Forget the two person limit hospitals have, you set the rules as to how many people are allowed to be with you.

Lastly and most important, having your baby at home will give your midwife freedom to oversee your care without the time constraints that most hospitals have in place. Labor is a natural process that rarely follows a timeline but instead progresses at its own pace.

I hope I've given you a few things to consider. Midwives are a great option for low-risk, healthy pregnancies but in the end you need to be totally comfortable with your choice.