Week 16: I like my midwife. Still wouldn’t call her.

I’m getting a little nervous about my midwife. I’ve had two prenatal visits so far, and they have been filled mostly with paperwork and medical history discussions. This next one is approaching 20 weeks, so it’s possible she could want to talk about the ultrasound anatomy scan and all that it means, etc. There are SO MANY things that I don’t care to spend time on. Testing, diet, exercise, is the baby moving – it would be a waste of time to spend more than one minute each on those. I don’t even really want to hear the baby’s heartbeat if it takes time away from the discussion I want to have.

Because the truth is hard to say and will be hard to say out loud to this person who I think is a wonderful person and who I’ve come to like, for whom I have a gut feeling affinity. The truth is: I don’t trust her enough to call her for the birth. I need to know more about her and how she practices. I need to know what she does at every birth, I need to ask what her standard practices are. I need to know how she’ll enter my house and how she’ll be during pushing. I need to know what kinds of things she might say. Will she tell me what to do? Will she get in my face? Or in other parts of me?

And after I know all that, I will need to tell her what I will and won’t want, and what I can’t be certain about until I’m actually in labor. That includes whether or not I call her, and the answer to that question lies partly in me knowing as much as possible about how she’ll behave in my home. I need to tell her the difficult things. I need to tell her that I might ask her to leave the room at some point, but especially during pushing and transition. I need to tell her that I might not want her to talk at all. I need to tell her how motivated I am to stay out of the hospital. I need to tell her that I am going to follow my gut instincts first, medical advice second.

I need to give myself the courage to take charge of my prenatal care. I told her before that the singular goal of my prenatal visits would be for us to develop the kind of relationship that would make me comfortable with calling her to attend my birth. Because if I don’t feel comfortable, I won’t call her. I would rather give birth by myself than be with people I don’t trust.

On that note, I am thinking about preparing for a potential unassisted birth, a good idea for anyone planning a home birth but especially someone like me whose first labor went quickly. Infant CPR, and a plan to transfer me if necessary, and a different plan to transfer the baby if necessary. I’ll need to enlist at least two or three helpers who I could call if needed, who would be willing. I’ll have their phone numbers handy. Perhaps we should even run through a few possible scenarios?

And after all the preparation and planning I am doing for the two rare possibilities – on the one hand, a hospital birth, on the other hand, an unassisted birth – I will probably have a fine birth with my midwife and her assistant on hand. The preparation is important, because these possibilities while rare are not unheard of and could happen. It is also important because it gets me into the mindset of not being able to control everything and forces me to acknowledge that something unforeseen could STILL happen.

We can’t control the world, but we can control how we react. The difference this time will be that I will refuse to hand over my body to the professionals, be they medical or spiritual or somewhere in between. I may not be in control of what happens, but I will create an atmosphere that supports my agency as the person doing the work.

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About investigatingbirth

My investigations of birth began in 2009 when I was trained as a doula. I helped women consider the evidence on common interventions, and helped them prepare for the physical and emotional challenge of giving birth. After some time it became clear to me that there was another type of challenge that I was unable to adequately prepare them for, the challenge of the maternity system. But it was only after my own traumatic birth in 2013 that I realized how little I had understood. I began to ask questions that few around me - doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors - were comfortable hearing. Questions like: Under what circumstances, and for what reasons, do doctors not practice informed consent? How do hospitals deal with other patient populations vulnerable to abuse? How does loss of professional autonomy, for obstetricians, and professional authority, for midwives, impact the quality of care they are capable of providing - regardless of their training? This blog will collect noteworthy information that attempts to answer these and other questions. Most of what you see here will be aggregated from other sources and analyzed. You will also see original interviews, and the occasional opinion piece or personal story, as I try to piece together a clear picture of the system in which American women give birth.
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