In search of a birth attendant

Before we got married we became friends with a woman in the community who is a midwife. She met with us before the wedding to talk about natural family planning, and has been great to go to with questions. Having someone we both know and trust was a natural fit when it came to deciding who would help us give birth. That, and our beliefs on natural health and the body. And enough copies of Mothering to be firmly convinced about the benefits of midwives over doctors.
Unfortunately, our midwife is currently out of the country. We called her replacement to set up a first visit, but I didn’t get a good vibe over the phone. So I started to stress out, and wonder if midwife care really was a good idea. It felt like a good idea to retreat to something that is secure, authoritative, recognized. In other words, time to make an appointment with my regular doctor. I was amazed to find how reassuring the thought of medical care was, even though I’m not a big believer! I let the clinic know that we were just checking in because my midwife was out of country.

We toodled along to the appointment, me feeling aware that husband might not exactly like the doctor. He tends to question traditional medical care and prescriptions, and I could see him taking up any of her suggestions that might imply standard medical care. However, the visit was not at all what I expected. For one, it is awkward trying to sit there talking when I’m up on the bed and he’s down on a chair. She hustled along through her comments, and I was frustrated to feel how standardized it was. For one, she talked about not over-eating just because you’re pregnant. That’s not really the advice I need, given that I’m on the low side weight-wise – I need more encouragement about getting enough food. Then, I’ve gone to her for years but she doesn’t seem to remember that I don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t eat meat – another factor to consider in giving dietary advice.

When she started to tick items off on the screen, including how I respond to anesthesia, I realized that they hadn’t told her that we were just doing an initial appointment with her. So I jumped in to let her know. She paused, and then said that yes, most of the advice a midwife will give will be the same, it’s just a difference in standards of care. I have no idea what she meant by this.

She proceeded to give us more advice, but it did not feel comfortable and I didn’t feel that my husband was able to be fully involved in the process as I would have liked. Then she picked up a referral sheet and started to filling it out, saying that she was sure I had accurately estimated my conception date but they always do an ultrasound to be sure. I said that we weren’t planning to get an ultrasound. She ripped the sheet off, shoved it in the garbage, and turned to face us with a strained smile plastered on her face!

At this point, I could not believe the lack of professionalism and respect we were getting. We took the test referrals and left.

Next up, a visit to the midwife 3 days later. So different! So much better! She was much more personable in person than she’d been over the phone – I realized, as I’d suspected, it was just her speaking style that put me off. She welcomed hubby much more warmly, and included him in the discussion process. We had a lot more time to talk, though even more would have been good, and she provided more personalized advice. I would have liked more feedback and info on some of the dietary recommendations, but overall, we were both happy with it. We used HER forms for the blood/etc. tests.

Our next appointment is with “our” midwife, who’s back in April. And I’m looking into finding another family doctor.

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