You are pregnant! We finally heard those words for the first time after we had been trying to conceive for over two and a half years! Our journey to get pregnant is a journey that is not traditional, has emotional high’s and low’s, is financially stressful, has about 60% chance of success but we knew it was the one we were going to take. We decided to go through in vitro fertilization also known as IVF and to hear the great news meant so much to us! I will talk more about our IVF journey in another blog at a later time.
If you have gone through IVF you know that after two confirmed intravaginal ultrasounds you quickly and unexpectedly graduate from your IVF clinic and get transferred to another provider. After our confirmed bloodwork and tests the nurses asked us, “what is the name of the OB office we should transfer your records to” my husband and I had not discussed this yet but without much thought I responded, “We are going with a midwife.” The nurse replied, “a midwife, we recommend transferring to an OB for the rest of your care for pregnancy.” This response validated my husbands belief as the logical place to transfer our care. I could feel myself getting nervous inside, warm in the cheeks, my blood pressure rising, but finding the courage to say, “I am a healthy woman, active, eat well, low risk and I feel a midwife would be better suited for my future care,” she responded with “our recommendation would be an OB, but think about it and we can discuss it again in two weeks.”
As we walked out of the clinic I shared with my husband that I had wanted to have a home birth with a midwife and he immediately said “I do not feel comfortable with a home birth, the nurse just told us that the doctor they recommend for us is an OB and OB’s usually deliver in hospitals” followed by his main concern, “what if there is a complication and higher level of care is needed for you and the baby and it comes down to something life threatening.” I recognized that it was a real concern for him but one that perhaps was based off of emotion and not necessarily facts like it can be for many other families.
You see I am a doula, a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor, and an advocate for women. I am more familiar with current statistics surrounding our births and women’s birth experiences in America. My reality was much different than my husbands, who majored in computer engineer and designs network and infrastructure systems for hospitals. I knew he was not going to feel any more comfortable without statistics and facts so I made a proposition to him, “I understand your desire it to have our baby with the everyone’s safety in mind, like all other families do, and you feel that would be in a hospital, but my concern is that we are making a fear-based decision, so I ask that you do your own research and if at the end of the day that is still having a hospital birth then let’s discuss it. We do not know what our future entails and this may be the only baby we have and I want us to make an informed choice based on facts and current statistics and feel empowered in our decision!” Over the next two weeks, he did his research and I did mine looking for providers in four different categories to explore for locations to have our first baby!
The groups were:
A: Hospital birth with a midwife
B: Hospital birth with an OB
C: Birthing center with a midwife
C: Home birth with a midwife
I started my research by looking up locations instead of providers. This was because I recognize that at times the direction and experience of a families birth can be more influenced by the staff and culture of a hospital than by the actual provider who many times intermittently comes in and out and in again at the end for only the delivery of the baby. I looked up statistics related to birth including cesarean rates for the hospital and facilities, I looked at facilities that were baby-friendly, and reviews by other women. From there I looked up providers that affiliated with the facility and set up interviews or meet and greets with midwives in each category.
What I want you as the reader to know, is that you have a choice and a say! It is your responsibility as a consumer to be informed and do your research so you can go into your birth with trust and love for each individual you have chosen to be with you on this special day, your baby's birth day! This is one of those days you will remember with clarity for the rest of your life so take the time to do research, ask questions, take tours and know that if at any point you don’t feel comfortable you can change providers and facilities! I want you to feel empowered in your choices.
Please watch my video to see how our story unfolded and how we made the decision that we made!
I have also added suggested questions to ask providers as you are interviewing them:
Is the hospital baby friendly?
Do you encourage skin on skin?
What is the cesarean section rate?
Are there any restrictions on who is allowed in the room?
How does the facility support breastfeeding and are IBCLC on staff?
Can I eat and drink while in labor?
Can I feely walk around during labor?
Am I required to have continue fetal monitoring? Do you have wireless fetal monitors?
Can I have dim lights while the baby is being born?
Would it be possible that it be quiet when the baby is born and only my partner and I talk to the baby as the first voice they hear?
Can I have access to a birth ball or peanut ball?
Can my partner stay with me after the baby is born?
Can I bring my own gown?
If I desire to delay cord clamping, would that be possible?
If I choose to have a doula, are they counted as one of the individuals that I am allowed to have in the room?
Is there a time restriction or guideline you use before recommending medications such as Pitocin?
Will consent be asked of me before any procedure such as an episiotomy?