I knew, going in, that seeing a midwife and seeing a more traditional OB (well, wait. I suppose the MIDWIFE is more traditional, in terms of say, human existence, but most of the women I know, my age and my mother’s age, used an OB and gave birth in the hospital), would be pretty different experiences, but I am not sure I was prepared for exactly how much different it would be.
DISCLAIMER: I am only telling you about my particular experiences, and thoughts, and I have no opinion about what you do or do not choose to do with your own pregnancy, or what you did or did not do. Additionally, I will refer you to this excellent and funny Temerity Jane post, and you can duke it out in the comments over there.
It all started when I started reading the book Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, by Jennifer Block, and by the end of the first chapter I was already convinced I was going to do everything I could to avoid having this baby in the hospital. Which meant looking for a midwife, which I started doing at about 9 weeks pregnant, right after getting released from the fertility clinic.
It took us the better part of three weeks to even get calls back from “local” (I’ll spare you another rant regarding my thoughts on what constitutes “local” in Southern California) midwives, and another week to visit them all and pick one, so my first appointment wasn’t until today, at almost 17 weeks along.
In the meantime, I managed to get myself a UTI, and this interaction convinced me I needed to get on board with an OB, RIGHT NOW. And so I picked one, mostly at random, and have had a couple of appointments while I figured out the midwife situation.
All that to say that this week, I had both an OB appointment and a midwife appointment, and well. HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
Key Difference #1: At the OB’s office, I waited on my ass, watching some idiotic movie for 40 minutes before I got called back. I know, I know, there is someone out there who waited for 17 hours in a freezing waiting room in only their underwear, and man, do I feel for that person. But it’s still my time, and my life, and spending 40 minutes in a waiting room is the last thing I’d prefer to be doing.
At the midwife’s HOUSE, she answered the door and we sat down together and started talking.
Key Difference #2: At the OB’s office, a nurse instructed me to “do [my] dipstick” without further explanation, and then laughed when I asked her what that meant.
With the midwife, I was given a 5 minute tour of the bathroom and specific instructions on what exactly it was I was intended to do in there. Ok, fine, maybe it was overkill- I have been to the rodeo enough times to know how to do a clean catch, but DAMN. By comparison, the experience with the midwife felt luxurious.
Key Difference #3: There is nothing, as far as I can tell, that an OB thinks cannot be solved with drugs. The UTI? A round of antibiotics. A second infection, with ABSOLUTELY NO SYMPTOMS? Another round of antibiotics. Heartburn? Pepcid. Headaches? Caffeine. For all the hammering away “they” do at pregnant women about reducing the amounts of chemicals they consume, my OB was frightfully willing to thrust all sorts of chemicals at me.
This particular midwife has a much more herbal supplement/diet change approach to all those complaints, which strikes me as a much more reasonable first approach.
Finally, Key Difference #4: my resting blood pressure at the OB’s office (where I had been cooling my heels for 40 minutes) was 130/80. At the midwife’s? 110/70.
AND HERE’S THE THING: I actually like the OB I chose. I think she was operating in good faith and within the scope of her training. I don’t think she didn’t like me, or was pushing me towards a c-section (although her nurses call her on-call day her “surgery day” as opposed to her “delivery day”). It makes me realize the position of privilege I am in, that I get to choose, or change doctors, or whatever other option presents itself to me.
I was pretty bowled over this afternoon, when we left the midwife’s office.