Prenatal Care

Voices of Our Families: Prenatal Care with a Midwife Vs. OB by Emma K

Comparing my 1st pregnancy with my 2nd:

Less Stress as a Stay-at-Home Mom and Excellent Home-based Prenatal Care

I can honestly say that this pregnancy has been so much easier and better than my first.  It really has been a fantastic pregnancy.  The lack of stress and hours on my feet has honestly made all the difference.  You would think that with a toddler it would be harder, but I can spend hours reading her books, singing, going for walks to the park, and countless other activities that I feel helped my womb baby adjust to the sounds and activities of our daily life, while giving me the exercise I need to stay fit for an un-medicated home birth.  Yes, the budget has been tight, but family time has been plentiful. I have enjoyed almost every moment of it (I have to say “almost” because yes, there are always toddler meltdowns and refusal-to-nap days, and finals week in which my husband has to be MIA all week long).

Another benefit with this pregnancy has been the prenatal home-visits of my midwives.  Unlike seeing an OB or a midwife in a doctor’s office or clinic, my home birth midwives schedule to see me in my own home.  My toddler can play with her own toys, help take my blood pressure, and even gets the chance to listen to the baby with the fetoscope. The midwives also let her lie down and pretend to do what mommy does, such as get her belly listened to. I don’t have to worry about being exposed to icky germs in a doctor’s office.  If my daughter needs a diaper change, I don’t have to lug my cloth diapers around with me and can change her in the middle of a visit, or sit her on the potty to try on her own.  The visits often last over an hour as we chat about questions and concerns and anything else on my mind at a leisurely pace, unlike traditional doctor’s visits in which I get 5 minutes to try to remember all the questions I have while trying to keep my daughter from opening all the drawers, ripping the paper off the exam table, and climbing the furniture.  I can discuss my natural options without being judged, and get advice on tandem nursing for when baby is born.  The midwives keep a prenatal record and provide information packets to read at my leisure, and all records are kept with me so I can browse them at any time (unlike a doctor’s office at which you must request them and often do not get copies until weeks later).  I can honestly say I have been extremely happy with my choice of home birth this time around, and the reassurance and copies of research studies they have given me have helped me feel even more comfortable with my choice of VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) at home.  Often I am told of the risks and danger of home birth by friends and relatives, but being within a 10-15 minute drive to a hospital and midwives with plenty of experience transporting to hospitals in emergency, I feel perfectly safe.   

Voices of Our Families: "Catch Class" by J Galvan, dad of 3

Our catch class was at our midwife’s country home. Three other expectant families gathered in her living room, shoes off, snacking and sipping, enjoying the quiet of the fading sunset. Our midwife Tosi coached us through what to expect and though this was my 2nd class (our son was born at home) I was struck by how much I didn’t catch the last time around: how to deal with the cord wrapping around the child (not a big deal), breech births, sounds as indicators of labor, when to call the midwives, and more. This class was as stark contrast to the clinical coldness of the Kaiser birthing class where we were marched into a room with dozens of other families, to be shown a movie. Hollywood tells us that birth is terrifying process, a woman screaming, doctors rushing, and medical equipment beeping and humming in a race against time. Our home birth was a gradual process, beginning with the visits from our midwife (yes, try getting a doctor to do that!) to her visit the day of the birth. No alarms, no beeping, no noise, just the sounds of my wife laboring and the midwives in hushed tones helping her along the way. Midwives in general, and our midwives in particular, are women with so much experience and wisdom about birthing that it amazes me that more folks don’t use their services. Women have been giving birth since we have been human, and midwives tap into that large body of knowledge and celebrate it. They don’t mute it with machines, or negate the process with drugs, but rather explain every step of the process to explain – ‘this is why your body is doing what it is doing’ to the mothers, and to the anxious and sometimes paranoid fathers. These midwives are a living connection to a time that isn’t out of date, but more vibrant and relevant than ever. After the class was over we said our goodbyes. I stood on a quiet road, to my right a creek, to my left a farm field, above me the Easter moon shining down on a glorious Holy Thursday evening.

In the dim moonlight, I made out the figure of our midwife as she pushed a cart containing our birthing tub down an earthen path to my truck. Another father helped me load the tub onto my truck, and at that moment I was transported to a strange time and place, not the past, since I had in my pocket my iPhone, nor the future, as it’s always in shadow, but a combination of all of those eras. If I close my eyes I can remember that quiet road, and I’m writing this so I can never forget it. As we drove home the scenery changed from farm fields bathed in moonlight, to the highway, to concrete, steel and neon civilization. Those surroundings however, don’t matter. From midwives disobeying the Pharaoh’s order to slay the first born children (Exodus 1:15-16) to modern women discovering the joy of bringing new life into their homes amongst family, mothers reclaiming the birthing experience with the help of midwives are keeping alive this link from the past, which stretches to the future and weaves itself through our present. I can’t help but smile knowing we are a small part of this rich tradition. We are blessed. ~ By Jose Galvan, father of 3