Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why I Chose a Midwife: Part I

Before I gave birth I started writing some thoughts about why I had selected a midwife and why I had opted to do a home birth. I did not deliver at home, but at Mt.Timpanogos Hospital in Orem, UT. But I will share my thoughts about what I wanted to do and the blessing it was to have a midwife by my side during this process. 

Here's a little background as to how I came to the conclusion that I wanted a home birth. Two years ago, if you told me I was going to choose to give birth to my first baby at home, I would have either 1) thought you were crazy or 2) figured it happened by mistake. I know this is true, because I remember talking to a friend about a neighbor who had had her baby at home. I asked if they just hadn't made it in time to the hospital. My friend informed me that it was intentional and I remember thinking that this woman was both a little crazy and weird and possibly irresponsible. The friend told me that this woman had educated herself and prepared for it. Well that's good, I thought, maybe she's not totally irresponsible. 

So here I am, about two and a half years later, summarizing why that's the route I would have selected for myself. Obviously my perspective has changed since then, or, you might think, I'm just a little crazy and weird and possibly irresponsible. And that's okay if that's what you think. I know that I made the best decision for me even though we didn't actually end up delivering Luke at home. 

So why a midwife?

Initially it started with researching insurance options. Our current plan didn't include maternity coverage (like so many private insurance plans in Utah). This entailed a lot of online research, phone calls, and questioning friends about what they're doing/have done. I discovered that several people I knew had chosen prenatal care through a "birth center" with "midwives" (let's just say at this point my image of "midwife" is a black servant on a cotton plantation in the South that comes into a little wooden shack bringing a basket and maybe some blankets, towels, and a stick to bit on for pain relief). I knew that that couldn't really be what these woman had selected for their prenatal care but didn't know much more about it. I learned a lot more about midwives and what they really do, when I happen-chance found The Business of Being Born on Netflix one night (I won't summarize the content of the movie because it taught me SO MUCH about labor and birth which I had no idea about. Although I will highly recommend that you watch it for yourself!). Most importantly I learned that the care of a midwife was different than the care of a physician/OBGYN.

Disclaimer: I am not anti doctors or modern medicine. This is just why I wanted something different for maternity care.

Brief summary of why I don't like going to the doctor. 
  • Make appointment -usually not at a very convenient time
  • Sit in waiting room -waiting 
  • Go back with nurse and sit in room -waiting 
  • Finally see doctor
  • Doctor confirms my self-diagnosis I have made via internet research
  • Doctor writes prescription, and leaves
  • I pay lots of money for what I feel like is minimal personal attention 
No me gusta! (Translation: I don't like that!) But I do it to get the prescriptions I need for my various health needs. 

Birth does not = needing a prescription. 

Having a child is the most significant thing that has happened in my life since I married my husband. Giving birth is a big deal. I wanted those that were involved to really be a part of it. It's an experience. A physical, emotional, and spiritual experience that is also very personal. I wanted personal care and attention and I don't feel like I get that at the doctors office. 

Perhaps some women have different experiences for their prenatal care, but my perception of what a doctor would do is check my vitals, tell me I'm healthy, and send me on my way. And then possibly (depending who is "on-call") be at the birth and catch the baby at the very end when all the laboring is done. So choosing care from a doctor didn't seem like the choice for the personal care and attention that I wanted. I felt like the care of a midwife would entail more personal prenatal appointments, the opportunity to establish a relationship, a surety that I know who would be attending the birth of my child, and the commitment of that person being there the entire time -helping and assisting during the entire labor. 

Other reasons I opted to use the care of a midwife:
  • I began to view birth as a natural process not a medical procedure
  • I believe my body knows what to do best and, being a dancer, have always felt more connected to my body and had confidence in it's ability to birth
  • I'd be able to eat and drink during labor. (Shelley without food = not a happy Shelley)
  • Major focus is given on preventative measures by eating healthy and taking care of my body all along the way
  • The cost is affordable for cash-paying medical customers like ourselves (our insurance covers emergencies and birth isn't an emergency)
So I began researching midwives in the area and having initial visits to find one that I thought was a good fit for me! After interviewing several woman I felt the most comfortable with Sherri Price and selected her to provide my prenatal care.

More on this topic on my next post...


  1. I love this post and am excited to hear more. I too chose to go to a Midwife. Her designation was actually 'Nurse Midwife', I believe. It was absolutely a personalized experience. She knew me and my birth plan and truly cared. She stayed by my side for the entire 15 hours that I labored at the hospital. I am not sure I am brave enough to plan an at-home birth yet, but I will definitely always have a midwife and not a doctor.

    1. I'm having my baby with a midwife, but they deliver at the hospital. I've LOVED the personal care and attention I have been given going this route. I love reading your blog and hope you're doing well!

    2. Janessa, I had no idea you used a midwife. I think it's the personal care that makes all the difference to me.

      Valerie, I'd love to hear more about your birthing experience now that your sweet baby has arrived! Hope you're doing well!

  2. You know, looking back on my experience, I am starting to think that I either should have had a midwife, or should have chosen a different doctor. I was initially really excited for the OB/GYN I chose, but ended up being really disappointed in him. He wasn't even there when I delivered Rich! Truly, the experience with him was disappointing. But I was lucky enough to have a really fantastic on call doctor at the hospital to deliver my baby. I didn't ever feel comfortable with the idea of not having a doctor, but I think that next time around, I'll be re-evaluating my choice for prenatal care.

    1. That is good that there was a good on-call doc for you. Perhaps you felt like you needed to plan on having a doctor since that little Richie was gonna come so early! I think with each birth I'll try to evaluate what's right and what I need to do.

  3. hi shelley! how are you??? i've been thinking about you lately and thought i'd say hi here. i had all those same feelings when deciding to go with a midwife but i have loved both of my birth experiences with midwives.

    1. Sarah. I'm doing well. I shot you an email the other day. Hope you got it. Yay for midwifery :-)

  4. How much was it forecast to cost? That's a good option for people without maternity insurance.

    Though I will say that I had an amazing experience with my OB/GYN group and my delivery at the hospital. I had excellent nurses, a fantastic doctor, and everything went really well. I'll have to see if I am as "up" on hospital delivering after this next delivery in a different hospital/city.

    Glad you guys found a nice place to live. I had family in Payson for a while. It's a good place =).

    1. In Utah midwifery services range from about $1,800-$2,000. That includes all of the prenatal care and labor and delivery and stay at the birth center. It obviously varies depending on location and midwife.

      I'm so glad that your previous birthing experience was great. And hopefully your next is just as fantastic!

  5. It's funny how I don't even know you, but when I read your blog it's like you take the words out of my mind and put them down for me to read it! I'm Katie's sister-in-law, and I think you are the coolest person I have never actually met! I haven't ever had a baby, but when I do I want to do it naturally and with a midwife. I love it so much, that's actually what I'm planning on going to school for, nurse midwifery. Keep blogging!

    -NaRhea Juchau

    1. NeRhea-
      Haha! I don't know how I got rated the coolest person you haven't met, but I'll take it! :-) Very cool that you're going into midwifery. What wonderful women that devote their time to supporting laboring mothers! You definitely go on the cool page in my book too.