When I think back to when my first child was born, one very vivid scene unfolds in my mind. It begins with me pleading for someone to go out and get the doctor who had vanished about an hour prior because this baby was coming now! My husband frantically ran into the hall and called the nurse who in turn called the doctor who yelled down the hall that no, it was not time yet. I was at the point of screaming and through tears said to my husband who had come back in the room, “Oh my god, this baby is coming now.”
Yes, I was young. Yes, it was my first baby. Yes, I had no experience with labor or childbirth and the doctor on call definitely had. So when he said the baby was not coming, I took his word for it…until I felt my daughter’s head crowning and pleaded with someone to believe what I was saying. A sympathetic nurse finally came in, took one look and sprinted for the door to find the doctor, who now ran in and scowled, “Don’t push. At least let me get my gloves on.”
My first daughter was born seconds later and luckily for him, I was so inundated with joy and happiness that I didn’t let him have it (although if I could go back to that day now, well, some things are better left unsaid!).
Naturally, with my next pregnancy, I wanted to avoid anything remotely close to this experience but did want to give up access to medically safe birth. I wanted to deliver in a hospital again, but this time with a more caring and calm professional. I did a thorough search and ended up choosing a team of certified nurse midwives whose practice was overseen by an OB/GYN.
From the first prenatal visit, I felt acknowledged and heard. I was given ample time for my questions at each 20-30 minute visit, and I had access to the team at all hours. I also always felt supported. Their stance was that as long as my wishes were medically safe, they would back me up. So if I wanted to stand up during labor or walk around, or sit or alternate, I could do it, as long as there were no complications necessitating otherwise.
While my midwife was supportive of my decisions and I delivered naturally with no intervention or meds, if I had needed them, they were readily available to me.”
My midwife was so incredibly calm. She had seen it all before and offered motherly support and also made me feel like everything I was doing was fabulous. This was invaluable … there is nothing more than a mother-to-be needs during a harrowing labor than encouragement.
My labor and delivery with my second daughter, and then my son after that, were glorious, in a beautiful wing of a hospital in a private birthing room. I didn’t need any medication whatsoever, no episiotomy, and delivered easily. I would not trade those experiences for anything.
However, while my midwife was supportive of my decisions and I delivered naturally with no intervention or meds, if I had needed them, they were readily available to me. If I wanted an epidural, it was there. I was asked but declined, and was repeatedly told I could change my mind. There was no judgment. If I had planned on a purely natural childbirth but wanted every drug available once the hard labor kicked in, my midwife would have happily given it to me.
Most importantly, if my labor had stalled, or if there was a cord prolapse, or the baby’s heartbeat declined, I would have been given a cesarean section in a matter of minutes because I delivered in a fully equipped hospital, had registered for a birthing room months before, and already had a team of professionals tending to me since early labor.
I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted the expertise and surgical ability of a doctor along with the experience and support of a certified nurse midwife. I also wanted to deliver in a hospital with an operating room and an entire team of specialists just in case the baby or I needed it.
In today’s world, there is no reason to be extreme; we have great medical advances available to us, we should utilize them all.