I want you to know that this post is in no way a slam on most OB/GYN care providers.
I recognize the limitations that medical professionals have in our modern Western Culture.
I realize that most of them are not trained to expect that women want to be more in control of their medical care, in fact, most women are not even aware that they can refuse certain tests/procedures/protocols.
I understand that they serve a purpose for some women who are in need of a higher level of care for their births.
But, over the years I have come to a place where I overwhelmingly prefer the care of a midwife for childbirth. Let me tell you why.
1. Midwives take time
Even the best traditional OB does not have the kind of time that a midwife can devote to her client. Especially in the case of a homebirth midwife it is not at all uncommon for our prenatal appointments to easily last an hour with no waiting in line. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? My homebirth midwife comes to my house so I don’t have to worry about childcare, getting to the office, parking or even waiting for long periods of time to see my care provider, she comes to me.
2. My children can be part of the process
Most midwifes view birth as a family event. A reason for celebration of life that all family members can partake in. My children are able to participate in most of my prenatal appointments and often my midwife will just allow them to listen to their new sibling’s heart beat. A midwife is able to take the time to encourage the questions of my curious crew which in turn allows them to feel important and included. This cannot happen in a traditional exam room where there is little space and little time to accommodate.
3. Midwifes don't see pregnancy & childbirth as an abnormal event
Let me clarify this a bit. When seeing a traditional OB the focus is more on things that may be going awry. Your weight is checked, urine screened, BP taken, tests offered and sometimes required, and there is a list that is essentially "checked off" as you go through the 15 minutes or less that your provider has for you. The OB is there to check for problems and abnormalities and address those issues. On the other hand though a midwife does some of the same monitoring it is not the overarching point of the prenatal appointment. Yes, your urine is screened, your BP taken but nothing intrusive and nothing you don't want. Many midwifes (mine included) have opted for a more "hands off" approach when it comes to exams that aren't directly on the abdomen. (in other words for sake of not being graphic, there is no exam below the belly) as many studies have shown that there really is no reason for such exams.
4. Midwifes are afforded the time to employ a holistic health model
I think my OB friend that I mentioned would love to get to know her patients better, to see what makes them tick, but the reality of it is that she has a short period of time with which to do a specific task. She is not afforded the luxury and has even said as such. The holistic health model is one that looks at the BIG picture not just the parts thereof. It is a model that recognizes that we are bigger than the sum of our parts and that each system in the body can directly effect the others. If you have a mother suffering with anxiety and depression, it will directly impact her pregnancy, if you have a mother who is easygoing and content, her outcomes will also be effected but in a different way. Our emotions and our day to day living (exercise, diet, emotional well-being, etc) affect our health. Midwives embrace this model and therefore are just as concerned with the welfare of the mother's emotional state as they are with her physical state. They are not psychologists but sometimes a mother having a rough day can feel loads better by being heard and chatting with a midwife friend.
5. Midwifes are more passive and encourage clients to be more active
A midwife will usually encourage the client (not patient because this is not an illness) to take the lead. I know when I first began down this path I expected my midwife to "tell me what to do" like my traditional doctors had always done. However, midwives typically prefer to encourage and empower their clients to take the lead in their choices, explore options, and research. If you want to take an herbal birth prep, she may encourage you to research specific ones to see what is right for you, if you want to birth in a certain position, you will likely be encouraged to figure out what your body feels is best. You are in control and rather than your birth plan being treated as a "wish list" at a hospital setting, you are setting the game plan that will be followed and respected.
If you are new to the ideas presented here, take a moment and just do some research, start by watching The Business of Being Born on netflix or reading Ina Mae Gaskin's works.