Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I Switched From An OB To A Midwife

When I got pregnant for the first time, the thought of having a midwife never even crossed my mind. I thought midwives were either old-fashioned, or they were hippies who helped you give birth in your bathtub. I was all about being cared for in a hospital, where I felt confident that if something went wrong, I would be safe. I didn't know that midwife-assisted birth in the hospital was a possibility, but even if I had, I never thought I would choose a midwife over an OB. It just seemed too “out there” for me.

Yet after months of going from doctor to doctor and trying to find one who was the right fit, I finally threw in the towel and switched from an OB to a midwife — and to be honest, I think it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

After going to my first OB and waiting hours at every appointment, I started to worry I wasn’t going to get the kind of care I needed. At my second appointment, when I had hoped to see an ultrasound with my mother who was visiting from out of town, we waited for an hour and a half before being told to go home and reschedule, because the OB was too busy in labor and delivery that day. When I voiced my concerns at my third visit, she brushed me off saying not to worry, she would be there for me when my baby finally arrived.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

This disturbed me, to say the least. I wanted to feel like I was being cared for throughout my pregnancy, not just when it was time to give birth. But I figured it was just her and not a general OB problem, so I switched providers and found a man I felt more comfortable with. He seemed very nice and jovial when we first met, and he didn’t leave us hanging for hours, which at this point was a plus. Though I didn’t feel a deep bond with him, I was confident that when the time came to give birth, I would at least know my doctor and have him there during my labor.

On that first visit, my OB introduced me to one of the midwives in their practice. I instantly felt comfortable around her, and later went home to see if she was taking on new clients, but she was also fully booked. I was intrigued, but I was still anxious after my first OB experience, so I didn’t pursue the option of hiring a midwife further.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

From there, my pregnancy progressed normally and my bond with my OB was OK. Nothing seemed amiss — that is, until it actually came time to give birth.

When I went to the hospital and was admitted, labor and delivery called my OB. That was the first time I learned that OBs did not come right away, and did not do much other than a brief check-in until it was time to push. I also learned that if your time to push happens to be during their off hours, you get stuck with whoever happens to be at the hospital that night. It turns out my first OB was right: she ended up being the on-call doctor when my baby was born and my OB was off-duty.

I felt like my delivery process was just part of a big assembly line. There was no special care or attention, no one who would remember my name the next day.

Throughout my birthing experience, I was at the mercy of hospital staff. I had never met any of them before, and they were cycling through shifts throughout my birth. I saw at least five different nurses, which made me feel like my delivery process was just part of a big assembly line. There was no special care or attention, no one who would remember my name the next day. The OB was in the room toward the end of pushing, and she left just as soon as the baby was cleaned up. It left me feeling a little disappointed in my birth experience. I'd imagined I was going to be giving birth in a warm and supportive environment, and it just wasn't.

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

When I got pregnant again, I immediately decided to look into hiring a midwife. I was hoping that this approach would provide the kind of care and attention I had so longed for with my first pregnancy, but I wasn’t expecting just how different it would be.

I met all three midwives in the practice throughout my pregnancy, so that if I went into labor while my midwife was with another patient, I would know the woman coaching me through birth. Instead of quick visits that left me feeling like part of an assembly line, my midwife talked to me extensively about my family, my birth plan, my feelings, and my fears.

Choosing a midwife gave me a feeling of comfort, safety, and support.

When it came time for me to give birth, my midwife was there within minutes of me arriving at the hospital, and she stayed with me throughout the entire process. She came into the room and drew a bath for me, coaching me through my contractions all the while. She was in tune with my needs in a way my husband couldn’t even hope to be, and I was able to handle the pain because of her guidance. I didn’t need any interventions until I decided I wanted an epidural for pushing. She even got me through pushing without tearing, although this baby was a whole pound bigger than my last.

Choosing a midwife gave me not only a feeling of comfort, safety, and support, but she also gave me a feeling of control that I felt was sorely lacking in my previous birth. I felt completely in control, like all of the decisions I made were mine. My voice was heard, and my needs were valid. It was exactly the kind of birth experience I had always hoped for. The only thing I regret was not choosing a midwife the first time I got pregnant.