I just got back from my first visit with the midwife this afternoon. I can’t tell you how totally different this experience was than my first prenatal visit with Munchkin (before we switched from the awful Willowcreek hospital). At my visit today, my friendly, patient midwife spent over an hour and a half with me answering questions and discussing (in great detail) my medical and family history, nutrition and exercise, etc… My exam was every bit, if not more, thorough and informative than any exam I ever had at the doctor’s office. This compared to a very rushed 10 minute (maybe) visit with a doctor at willowcreek that I had never met before and would probably never see again during my pregnancy unless s/he was the random one (of 9-10 or so) on call when I delivered… There is just no comparison! Munchkin’s birth was an amazing experience, don’t get me wrong, and I am so glad that I ended up switching doctors and switching from willowcreek to the hospital where he was ultimately born, but I am really excited about the possibility of having a home birth this time.
For those of you who are not familiar with Home Birth or midwives, let me take a minute to explain what this is and why we chose this route for Sunshine. We have had very polar reactions from friends and family who we have told about our decision, ranging from super excited to terrified to downright angry. This is our decision and we have not made it lightly. Most people who are opposed to the idea of home birth have a picture in their minds from the 1800’s: unsanitary conditions and equipment, primitive technology, attendants with very little or no training, no access to emergency interventions… Most of these same people have also bought into the notion that pregnancy is basically a disease or medical condition that requires hospital care. Thank God we have surgeons and hospitals for true emergency situations. But the fact is that for low risk moms, home birth is a very safe alternative to a hospital birth. Certified midwives are well-trained, experienced (ours has attended right at 400 births), and carry dopplers to monitor the baby’s heartbeat, oxygen for mom and baby in an emergency, sterile equipment to suture tears, medications to slow bleeding in the event of a hemorrhage, etc… They carefully monitor moms throughout the entire pregnancy and labor and are always on the lookout for signs of potential complications that could indicate that a hospital birth would be advisable or necessary. They (or a Certified Nurse-Midwife, or doctor that works with them) do the exact same blood tests you would get at a doctor’s office to rule out possible complications as well, and require a detailed emergency plan should transport to the hospital become necessary. In our case, the nearest hospital is only about two miles away. Good midwives are also very concerned with teaching preventative measures that make a healthy delivery much more probable. The only advice on diet and exercise I ever received at willowcreek was a plastic bag they handed me on the way out with a couple of brochures buried in a stack of baby formula and disposable diaper coupons and advertisements. I could go on all day:) Anyways, Stephen and I have done our research and are very aware of the things that might go wrong. There is always a chance that something can go wrong, at home or at a hospital. True emergencies do sometimes pop up without warning. But we are also confident that with the precautions taken by a good, well-trained midwife, the risks of Home Birth are not statistically any worse than those of a hospital birth. In fact, outcomes may very well be better considering that many perfectly healthy moms and babies are subjected to unnecessary interventions and their associated side-effects during a hospital birth. I’m not trying to convince anyone to have a home birth, just trying to explain why we made the decision we did. If you are at all interested in homebirth, do your reasearch. Read, read, read. Interview midwives. Ask lots of questions. Discuss with your partner. Then make your decision. 🙂
Okay, now back to the main point of this post:)
I got to hear the baby’s heart beat for the first time! A beautiful, strong, steady, perfect 160 beats per minute! There is just no feeling like it… it is almost as if the whole thing didn’t seem quite real until that moment. I can’t wait to meet the little guy:)