Midwife Hospital Birth

Childbirth is a wonderful, amazing, and somewhat scary thing. As a mother, you want the absolute best outcomes for your new baby and yourself. Many of us these days are choosing alternative options to traditional hospital birth. After looking at several options, we chose to deliver at a hospital with a midwife. Here’s our story.

Why did we decide on a midwife hospital birth?

I have five friends here in the United States who became mothers before I did. Of those five, three had c-sections, one had other complications, and only one had her babies in a hospital with no problems.

My friend Charlotte is English and has two sons. She told me it is primarily midwives who deliver babies in the UK and doctors only come in when medically necessary. She had two midwife assisted deliveries with no complications. I also knew several people in my life who have had home births and they had nothing but positive things to say about it.

The c-section rate with my domestic friends is a bit higher than the national c-section rate of over 30%. Ina May Gaskin (probably the world’s most famous midwife) has a birthing center with a rate of less than 2%. That’s with 3,000 births.

There are things in childbirth you can’t control. The ultimate goal is a healthy baby however it needs to happen. Still, I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs. After researching how epidurals can affect the birthing process, nursing, and postnatal recovery, as well as seeing footage comparing birth with and without one, it was clear I didn’t want an epidural either.

A midwife seemed like the right choice from the start.

What birthing options did we explore?

We were incredibly fortunate that we had many options for bringing our baby girl into the world.

I began called up friends who I knew had home births to find out who their midwives were. I did some googling to find a listing of certified midwives in my state. In the end we visited with four different midwives. I made up a comparison spreadsheet so I could keep track of important information at each.

Midwife Practice: A little over an hour away in a small unassuming town there is a whole midwife practice. We visited their clinic and their four midwives that were on staff. These women all seemed great and it was cool that there was a formal clinic we would be visiting. The drawbacks here were distance from home, and that with four midwives on staff, there was no promise of who would be there during delivery.

Birth center: A friend of mine from many moons ago now works at a birth center. It is around two hours from where we live, right near my home town. The facility is a beautiful old house that has three different rooms you could deliver in. When you arrived they would get pre-homemade dough from the freezer so after your baby was born you could have fresh warm bread. The expected time for your stay was 6-24 hours total. We liked this place, but a two hour drive was too much. We also found the cost to be prohibitive.

Midwife with her own practice: My cousin had a home birth and we found we were within her midwife’s service range. We met with her and her apprentice and liked them a lot. Unfortunately we would have been traveling over an hour for appointments which would make it difficult for my husband to attend. Insurance was another issue as our provider did not cover the delivery costs, the most expensive part. It was still more affordable than a birthing center. If we lived closer to her office, we may have gone with her.

Midwife hospital birth: We are very fortunate to be a half hour away from a hospital with a midwife on staff. We set up an appointment with her and I went through my list of questions. Each answer was exactly the same as other midwives. We would have delayed cord clamping. I could get up and move around as much as I wanted. I could labor and deliver in the tub. There would be a golden hour after the baby was born where she wouldn’t be fussed with unless medically necessary. Bathing would be delayed. We would do intermittent fetal monitoring instead of constant. Ben could make it to all the appointments with me. Insurance would cover it completely except for a $100 copay. The choice at this point was easy.

What was the experience like using a midwife during pregnancy?

We had a great relationship with our midwife. She is easy going, honest, and doesn’t rush through things. Our appointments never felt like we were on a time clock. She always made sure to talk with us about what was coming up at our next appointment so we could learn about the procedure (things like ultra sounds, checking for dilation, vaccinations, etc.) ahead of time and decide if we were comfortable with it. We opted for example not to do an 8 week scan. She checked my cervix at 36 or 38 weeks (can’t remember now) and I didn’t want to be checked after that so I wasn’t. It’s important to ask a lot of questions of your midwife up front to learn what her style/preferences are, in addition to what hospital policy is.

Delivering our baby with a midwife hospital birth.

Baby girl with her father’s scowl.

Check back here later for a YouTube video telling of our birth story!

Here are the positives of a midwife/hospital birth as I experienced them:

  • Natural as you want it to be. I felt no pressure to use any sort of medication. It wasn’t even offered!
  • Movement – We tried a half dozen different positions using birthing balls, the hospital bed, and the tub.
  • Golden Hour- This hospital was in the process of gaining its Baby Friendly status. All the more “natural” practices you get with a home birth, you get at the hospital as well.
  • Care- I didn’t have to worry about a damn thing. We could call down and order food whenever we wanted and it would be to the room in fifteen minutes. I never had to fill a water glass or lift a finger. Ben was able to run home and take care of chores. I wasn’t worried about me or baby girl as we were checked regularly by nurses. If I had done a home birth I would have been worried about food, animals, farm chores, laundry, etc. That little bit of time at the hospital (46 hours) was almost a mini vacation.

What about a doula?

I opted not to use a doula. I think they are wonderful. If you have the resources and believe one would help your birth journey then by all means hire one. I knew I would already have my husband and mother in the room for our birth, which to me was plenty of people.

Your Decision

I hope you have a few options in your area that allow you to pick the birth support that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Remember, this is your decision. Mothers, in-laws, and even your husband may have strong opinions to share, but you know your body best and what makes you feel safe and supported. Whether you end up choosing traditional hospital birth, a birthing center, or a midwife hospital birth, you are going to be a great mama.

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