What does it mean to have a midwife? Now, I can’t speak for all women, but I can share our experiences with three gifted midwives.
Who did we call when my water broke at the beginning of labor with Eliana? Our friend, a midwife. She didn’t live in the same town, but she calmly and graciously answered our questions in the middle of the night and gave us some recommendations before we went to the hospital.
Who did we call when I had signs of mastitis with Eliana? Our friend, the midwife.
Who did we call when we had questions about Eliana’s cord? Our friend, the midwife.
We were seeing an OBGYN at the time, but there is just something special about being able to call a friend from our former college group who is also a midwife to ask questions.
With Natalie’s pregnancy, we did concurrent care. That meant I saw both the OBGYN and a midwife. I would leave the OBGYN’s office frustrated nearly every time. I didn’t fit in her box, and she didn’t like that I was not willing to do all that she recommended. Yet, when my midwife came to my home, I saw her for the whole visit rather than the last few minutes. I grew in understanding of my body and was educated and empowered to make decisions for me and Natalie. We bonded during our time together and trust was established.
I closed my eyes during nearly all of Natalie’s labor, but I do clearly remember opening them at one point and looking at my midwife. She was completely at peace. It gave me the courage to push through the pain knowing that she felt I was doing just fine.
People asked me about having Natalie at home, and I told them it was glorious. I was in my home, with familiar sights, sounds, and smells. I don’t know about other moms, but walking into a hospital raises my anxiety level. It is very common for labor to slow when traveling to and arriving at a hospital. There are bright white lights, tons of people you don’t know, and most doctors work as a team, so there isn’t a guarantee that the one you spent some of your visits with will even be there. Plus, in our experience with Eliana, we had a nurse who wasn’t supportive of me trying to have a medication free labor. Trying to defend yourself isn’t conducive to progressing in labor.
With Lydia, we only saw a midwife. I was so glad. My appointments were during nap time so that while my other girls rested I was able to meet with my midwife.
Having a midwife means I can move during labor. I don’t labor in a bed unless I want to. With Natalie, Lydia, and Charlotte, I have labored in my living room where I had space to move positions during contractions as needed. I was allowed and encouraged to stand, squat, kneel, sit, and lean. The baby would be my guide, and I’d move as my body told me to. I think the freedom to move has been key to my short labors. Also, I didn’t have those bands around my tummy monitoring me. Putting something tight on my tummy while laboring was never helpful to me. I had asked to take it off when I labored with Eliana, because I heard you only needed it on for 20 minutes of hour. But, since mine kept slipping during contractions I had to keep it on. I know they serve a purpose, but I am glad my midwife has monitored the baby with a Doppler as needed and can tell without the use of a band that I am having contractions.
Having a midwife means after the baby is born, I recover in my own bed. I never could figure out how to make the hospital bed comfortable. I remember adjusting it throughout the night after Eliana was born, but still not figuring it out. Plus, Kyle didn’t have to leave for the night like he did when I was in the hospital.
Having a midwife means, she comes 1 day, 3 days, and 9 days after the baby is born to check on me and baby. It may not be a challenge for anyone else, but getting a baby to a doctor’s appointment is such a hassle for me those first few days.
It also means that when I had questions about a rash that suddenly appears all over Charlotte, I sent pictures to my midwife. She explained what was happening and reassured me that it was normal and would go away. It also meant getting advice about what to do when Charlotte’s cord had an unpleasant smell. I don’t know about everyone else’s experiences with doctors, but now a days, each question seems to equal a higher bill.
Having a midwife means having someone to call when I miscarried a few years ago who could walk me through what would happen with my body. It also meant when my sister miscarried farther along, I connected her to the midwife in our hometown and also asked questions of my midwife. We both found great comfort in talking to midwives.
One of the greatest things my midwife did was help Charlotte to get out when her shoulders got stuck. I believe God gave her the exact wisdom needed to move me and guide Charlotte out.
Our lives have been richly blessed by midwives.