We all go into the pregnancy and birth experience with certain hopes and assumptions. Most of us assume that things will go just how we want them to, and that our health care providers will work with us to achieve our goals. But we all knows that things can take an unexpected turn. Sometimes there are complications. You wanted a natural birth, but the baby is breech. You scheduled a c-section, then went into labor a month early. These things happen, unfortunately, and if you have the right person by your side, it can be easier to roll with the punches. But what if you have the wrong person?
I wondered if choosing the right (or wrong) provider could change how we felt about pregnancy, so I talked to some moms who agreed to share their stories. These 10 women shared how their experience with their healthcare provider affected their birth experience. Some women chose to labor in a hospital, with ample medical care by their side, and others chose an out-of-hospital experience. Their choices ensured (as much as possible) that their baby's delivery was to their needs, their wants, and their preferences. Who cares if all hell breaks loose when you and baby go home together; these women did everything within their power to ensure that they were empowered, supported, and encouraged as they brought new life into the world.
No matter what their choices, it's totally badass.
In my second trimester, I switched from an OB-GYN to a midwife. I am a sexual trauma survivor, and I found that the OB-GYN made no room for me to talk about my triggers, or ask questions about what was happening to my body. I felt like I was another cog in the machine, just a body to move in and out of her office.
I ended up finding a midwife instead, and had the conversation about trauma the first time we met. It was a much better fit for me.
I was adamant about wanting a midwife, and then when I found out that I was having twins, my midwife told me I'd have to switch to shared care with an OB-GYN at 30 weeks. My midwife was great initially, very encouraging, and kept reminding me that plenty of mothers go full-term with twins, so I was pretty optimistic. But I didn't end up being one of those women, and needed an emergency cerclage (cervix stitch) at 21 weeks to give me a shot in hell at carrying at least to viability. The day we found this out, my husband and I were sitting in L&D, trying not to freak out, and figured we'd just wait to hear from my midwife before we assumed the worst.
Then she called and said, ‘Alana, this is very bad. Your babies might die. I can no longer be in charge of your care, so the OB-GYN at the hospital when you are admitted will take over from here.’
I ended up with this random OB-GYN who was really a private fertility specialist, and he gave me some steroid shots and told me to go home and ‘not do anything stupid.’ He was awful and I hated him, but because I didn't have an OB-GYN who knew me, that's who I got stuck with.”
I had a really fantastic experience with my midwives during both pregnancies. My secondary midwife the first time ended up being my primary midwife the second time. She was like a mother to me, studied with Ina May Gaskin, and is just a rock. She's been through it all. My primary midwife the first time around ended up being called in from her vacation to be my secondary when I gave birth. They were a wonderful team of women, and I found it hard to say goodbye to them at the end of the six week postpartum care.
I've actually stayed in touch, off and on, with the primary midwife from my second birth, the older one. She helped me through enormous challenges with breastfeeding after my first birth, and was the one who noticed that I wasn't right during my second pregnancy, and ultimately got me referred into a Women's Mental Health program, after we realized I had antenatal anxiety and depression. Thank God for her.
I'm a nurse, so I got to work with my midwife for my first two births, and the OB-GYN for my last two, and it was incredible. I was able to text her questions and request that only she be at my birth, which took such a lot of stress out of my mind. Having a personal relationship with my care providers helped me feel like they would not give me anything but the straight truth, and when I had to be induced at 37 weeks for complications, despite being a very natural birther, I shut my mouth and listened.
[I] loved my OB-GYN for my son. She was very cool, explained everything that was going on, appreciated my many questions (both the science-y ones and the crazed first time mom ones). She wasn't super warm and fuzzy, but gave off a compassionate doctor vibe and was also an amazing dresser. Our relationship affected my delivery in that when she said, 'The baby is in distress and you need a c-section,’ I 100 percent trusted her, because I had always felt respected by her.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I wound up going with a midwife (we'd moved, so it didn't make much sense to stick to my last provider) and I loved her. Very warm and fuzzy. We would talk for about 45 minutes every appointment. She was my ‘VBAC cheerleader.’
My first two were twins, so the fertility doctor sent me to a high-risk neonatologist. I loved her! She was very patient and sweet. I had 50 gajillion first-timer questions and she answered every single one without ever making me feel stupid. She also knew an insane amount of percentages and facts about everything, which oddly made me feel comforted.
For my third baby, we had moved, and I was going to a practice where I had to see every doctor at least once. I hated that. I like consistency. I did like one guy, and chose to go back to him for the rest of my appointments, praying he would be the one on call when I delivered — and he was! It was the only time in my life I have ever had a male OB-GYN, and I thought I would be weird, but it wasn't.
We moved back home, and I saw my old doctor for my fourth child. Then, we lost one of the twins to cancer, and I found myself unexpectedly pregnant again. I felt ashamed, almost. Stupid, like I was trying to replace him. I waited a super long time before going to the doctor, but I went back to her. It was so comforting to have her as my doctor, knowing that she knew about my history. I was even more neurotic about this baby. She was, as always, so patient and good about making me feel better. She retired shortly after delivering my last baby — just a fitting end to my baby-making, I thought. Overall, I had positive experiences. I loved having babies, and I think part of the reason was because I lucked out with doctors.
I was transferred to an OB-GYN at eight weeks from the doctor that performed my IVF procedure. My main OB-GYN was male, and I was nervous about how I'd feel with a male doctor, especially since the nurses called him ‘Dr. McDreamy,’ but he was great; very knowledgable about the current studies and science, which was perfect for my high-risk twin pregnancy. He worked with a team of four other doctors, and they met once a week to discuss all pending cases together. I had to have appointments with all of them throughout my pregnancy so they were all familiar with me.
I loved them all except for the oldest male doctor. He was very old-fashioned and dismissive of my concerns, and I didn't like the way he spoke to the nurses. He was supposed to be on call the night I went into labor, but I got super lucky and ended up with a different doctor. After three hours of pushing, I ended up having a c-section. Even though my boys were premature and things got scary, I have very clear memories of him playing pop music and singing along during my surgery and making me laugh. He stayed calm, so I did too.
I got along with my doctor fairly well. She'd been my gynecologist for a few years. I learned I was pregnant in her office. I'd always thought she was very knowledgeable but not very personable. I Googled her right away to see what others had to say. She was rated in the middle. Half the reviews were negative, saying she thought she was God and had a terrible bedside manner. The other half were rave reviews. I decided to stick with her because I wasn't looking for warm fuzzies; just someone that knew what they were doing. I wanted to be the healthiest I could be, and she held nothing back about her expectations.
Over the course of my pregnancy, I had a few moments of doubt. At 30 weeks, I had gained 20 pounds and had just stopped running, but still walked two-to-three miles four days a week. She told me to walk more or eat better. At our birthing class, when another patient asked about skipping an epidural, she said, ‘It's up to you; you're going to be the one in pain, not me.’ Both things made me feel bad, but in both cases she was just being honest, and I liked that. When it was over, I was pretty happy. She didn't really argue with my birth plan, and I was very confident she could handle any emergency. After my son was born, a good friend told me that when she miscarried, the same doctor callously told her that her baby had no heartbeat. I think my opinion of her would have been much different if I'd had to deal with her lack of bedside manner during such a sad time.
I was with a midwife practice. I saw my OB-GYN for the first trimester, since I’d had a miscarriage just before. She was awesome. So encouraging, very good with the first time hand-holding nervous mom stuff. I wish I had just stayed as her patient through the birth. I think it would have been a very positive experience. They had three doctors and three midwives in the practice, but since I was doing well, I was a midwife patient. I went into rotations with each of the midwives, since any of them could be on duty when I went into labor. All was well with two of them, who were super sweet, took lots of time to answer questions at each appointment, and gave me tons of reassurance. The third was very negative and I'm not even sure why she was a midwife.
On my second appointment with her, I was maybe 30 or 32 weeks along, and she told me she doesn't like her patients who take the Bradley Birth Classes because we ask too many questions. I was really shaken up when she was really rude and wouldn't discuss anything with me at the appointment. My husband told me we weren't using them anymore. I felt very supported, but also really terrified. He found a birthing center the next day, and I called and explained that we needed to change teams. They were super nice, and had no problem meeting me and assessing if they could take me as a patient. The midwives were very informative and kind. Really loved them and still keep in touch.
The actual birth ended up with me getting referred to their nearest hospital. The OB-GYN was alright, but I would never choose or recommend her. She didn't really want to deal with me, which is a great way to go through birth. Both midwives were attending other births, so I got one of their students, Beth. Beth is still in my head whenever I need encouragement, I swear! She was and is so very kind and gentle. I’m still thankful to Beth for staying even after another student came to relieve her. She was so positive, and really the only light for us in that situation.
All three of my kids were delivered by three different doctors, though I had two with the same practice. I liked all of my doctors, but the one who delivered my daughter was totally my favorite. My pregnancy with our daughter was very complicated. I had to take blood thinners via injection for a blood-clotting disorder they found when I was trying to get pregnant with her. Then it turned out I was allergic to all of the formulas of the medicine. I was then put on steroids, but they caused a very painful ulcer. I also had placenta previa, which was extra risky because of the blood thinners. I was released from my regular OB-GYN at 18 weeks, and was sent to a high-risk practice. My doctor could put me at ease in a way that nobody else could. He not only cared about my physical condition and the condition of our baby, he also cared about how I was feeling emotionally.
On the day of my c-section, I felt secure that my baby and I were in capable hands. As soon as he pulled my daughter out of me, she let out a huge scream. The doctor said, ‘Elizabeth, is much too demure a name for a girl who can scream like that.’ When you spend your whole pregnancy fearful that something might happen to your baby, being told that your kid was a screamer was a huge compliment. He had to go to a conference the day after my daughter was born, but he called me from Bermuda to see how Elizabeth and I were doing. And he called her by her name.”