When I got pregnant with Anna I was a
neurotic typical first time mom when it came to finding the right prenatal care provider.
Even though a few of my friends had great experiences with midwives, I didn’t understand the allure. In fact, I never considered anything other than a standard hospital delivery with a physician. I did lots of research on local doctors and asked friends for their personal recommendations, which is how I eventually found Dr. H. She saw me every single appointment, patiently answered questions, and never treated me like a clinical case. Even though Dr. H wasn’t on call during my labor, she still showed up at 4:00am for the delivery. When I thanked her profusely for being present at the birth she said she liked delivering her own patients so much that she bought a home only minutes from the hospital to make it easier. Whoa.
As context, I’ve been told it’s somewhat of an anomaly these days to find a physician like Dr. H. But, since Anna’s prenatal care was fantastic I still didn’t understand the argument for using a midwife, delivering at a birthing center, or even trying a home birth.
Then our insurance changed and I couldn’t see Dr. H anymore. Within the first few weeks of my second pregnancy I began to understand why some women would rather see a midwife over a doctor.
Without going into all the specifics, I had difficulty getting appointments with the doctor I wanted to see; I was assigned to a different person for my first four appointments; and I dealt with multiple cancelled appointments. None of the doctors or nurses wanted to discuss my last pregnancy or delivery, saying such information wasn’t important for them to know. One person did ask how long I breastfed Anna, and then lectured it wasn’t long enough. (Almost 11 months? Um, I beg to differ.) At one point I began researching birthing centers. Jonathan knew better than to argue.
I realize the issues I’m describing are first-world problems. I am blessed to have medical insurance, and I’m grateful to live in a country where my baby will be delivered by skilled, trained hands in a clean and safe setting. But, I also think it’s tragic when pregnant women are treated like a number or a textbook medical case. We are unique creatures, growing unique babies. And once I started comparing Anna’s prenatal care to this baby’s prenatal care, I realized why so many women choose midwives over doctors.
Something needed to change, so at Sharon’s encouragement I began seeing her midwife when I was 16 weeks pregnant. (We have the same insurance provider, and our insurance has midwives in their practice.) I knew Jennifer was fantastic almost immediately. Unlike the other people I’d seen in the prior weeks, she actually asked about my first pregnancy and delivery. At each appointment since she has greeted Jonathan and I by name, looks us in the eye and asks how I’m feeling. Jennifer encourages (and leaves time for) questions. We never feel rushed.
When I compare the care I’m receiving now to Anna’s prenatal care, I see very little differences. Both Dr. H and Jennifer want to know their patients, show up consistently for appointments, and take time to answer questions. A lot of women are growing convinced that midwives can provide more individualized care than doctors. And while I can’t entirely agree, I can’t disagree either. I’m simply thankful I have options to see someone who cares about me and my baby.
When it comes to prenatal care, here’s what I’ve realized about myself:
- I don’t need to feel like a princess, but I would like to be greeted by name when I show up for appointments.
- I don’t need to be coddled, but I would like to be assured my opinions and questions matter.
- I don’t need to see the same person every single appointment, but I don’t want to see a different person every single time.
When it comes to prenatal care, here’s my opinion on the doctor versus midwife debate:
- To each her own.
- Don’t settle for a provider that treats you like a number.
- Know it’s possible to receive incredible care from both doctors and midwives–but you have to do your research, and speak up.
Have you had any experiences similar to mine when it comes to your prenatal care?
Also, from Babycenter.com: Doctor of midwife: Which is right for you?