Your prenatal care provider is going to see you NAKED! Okay, I know that sounds a little shocking, but considering that during birth you are both your most powerful and your most vulnerable at the same time, it is a good idea to make sure you have the right person by your side.
The word midwife literally means with woman. A midwife sits with a woman as she births her baby (as opposed to an OB who pops in to catch a baby) and facilitates everything that goes into helping a mom make healthy and safe choices to get her baby earthside.
Midwives typically prioritize the importance of the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother through out the pregnancy, birth and recovery periods. They typically are there to provide hands on assistance and guidance during labor and delivery instead of using machines and only popping in if there is a problem.
I love midwives and think every mother should have the option to work with one if that is what she wants. In fact, many countries, such as the Danish countries (whom I adore) have much better outcomes and birth models where women first see a midwife and only see and OB if they pay more out of pocked or have a high risk pregnancy that will need interventions.
Here are 5 signs that you and your midwife are a perfect team:
When you sit down with your midwife you feel comfortable sharing the most sacred parts of your life with them. You also feel comfortable talking about the painful things in your life that may affect your birth such as abuse. When you are with her, you feel heard, seen, not rushed and are given the dignity to be fully who you are, baggage included.
Your midwife helps you understand and know what to expect in your journey. She answers your questions thoughtfully, provides resources that empower you gain the knowledge make educated decisions about what you want for you and your baby. When you sit with her you feel confidence, clarity and excitement for the future.
She listens to your birth plan and helps you know what steps you can take to have the greatest likelihood of things going the way you want. When you discuss your options you feel supported in your wishes and know she wants to see you succeed.
She also helps you understand plan b, plan c and plan d. You know when she would suggest certain interventions. You feel that if something unexpected does occur, you will can work together and trust that she would not take you away from your original plan unless it is very important. She sees your power, your ability to birth, supports your birth plan and is ready to do everything in her power to help you have the experience you are seeking.
She had the experience to keep you well, and act swiftly if an emergency does occur. You feel confident in her ability, knowledge and experience. She has been with many many many women as they birth their babies. When things don’t go as planned, she is prepared and capable.
Healthy baby healthy mom is the baseline for a good pregnancy experience. The wonderful thing is, the more attention that is paid to your emotional and social experience, the more you increase your odds of having a physically well during birth as well. After all, you are a whole human. Your mind, body and spirit is connected. You will birth with your mind, body and spirit, not just your body. If you feel these things about your midwife you know that she can care for you as a whole human being instead of focusing only on your physical health.
What should you do if you read this list and are thinking, oh crapppp, prenatal care can be like that?
It’s never too late to change providers. If your provider is disrespectful, not on board with your birth philosophy, not skilled in your particular needs, or too busy to slow down and see your birth as special and important, get some referrals and find someone who fits better with you.
Did you know you don’t have to wait an hour to be seen for 15 minutes?
Did you know you can have an educated discussion with your prenatal care provider and get answers to your questions?
Do you know that your voice matters?
Speak up for yourself and your vision. If someone is not the right fit, keep looking. There are many many different midwives and doctors out there. If you look, you are sure to find someone capable of meeting you where you are.
What if you’re stuck with a provider because they are the only one close to you or you have a high risk pregnancy with only a few providers skilled in your needs?
This situation sucks a little bit. I’m sorry you are in it. To make it a little better, hire a doula to help you flesh out your plan, support you emotionally and help you advocate for your wants.
Ask your provider to slow down and spend the needed time with you to fully answer all your questions.
Work with an OB and a midwife. Some midwives will act as a consultant for you so you can meet with both the midwife and OB having both your whole person care and your individualized high risk care. Some of these midwives will even talk over the phone or meet via Skype. If you are looking for someone, let me know I’m happy to send a referral.
At the end of the day, this is your birth and your experience.
Make sure that your provider cares deeply about this being a wonderful experience for you from start to finish and has the tools to help you accomplish that!