I am now in my 12th week of pregnancy. Recently, I made the decision to switch care providers and go back to the homebirth midwife we used for our first two children. Homebirth care is something that I find a lot of people are curious about, even if they themselves don’t want to birth outside of the hospital. The truth is, midwifery care outside of the hospital is still vastly different from midwifery care inside of the hospital. It’s not to say one is better than the other, it’s just a matter of preference. But this is what prenatal care with a homebirth midwife looks like:
I arrive at her home office a few minutes early. I’m greeted with a smile, a warm hug, and an invitation into her home. She asks if I would like any water or herbal tea, but I decline this time. I drank a bottle of water on the way over and I’m ready for the bathroom (because, pregnancy). While in the bathroom I do the usual pee-in-a-cup that you do at an appointment with an OB or midwife in the hospital. Only instead of leaving it there, I get the test strip and test the urine myself. I make a note of ketones, protein, glucose, and other readings. Then I step on the scale to weigh myself before leaving. When I return to the living room, I tell her the test results. This time everything looked normal, and there is no cause for concern. For someone who loves taking an active role in my health and being informed, I appreciate that I know exactly the result of each test. It is not a “no news is good news” approach, but rather a “you are the one in control of your health” approach.
After this, I settle in on the comfy couch and she asks me how I’m doing. Words tumble out almost faster than I can think of them. I share about the birth of our third child and our experience in the hospital. I confide with her the anxiety I feel with this birth being after a miscarriage. She tells me that it’s important to talk through my past experiences and the emotions surrounding them, as they will affect the way I view this birth. She also reminds me that this is a brand new start. A brand new life. I can let go of the fear and anxiety that are surrounding me. I can hope and pray for a better outcome.
We talk like this for 45 minutes. We reminisce about past births and she asks about the children and how they are doing. Talking with her, is like talking to a family member, mentor and friend, all rolled into one. It’s easy and natural.
At this point we get to the medical part of the appointment. She takes my blood pressure and checks my pulse. Both are excellent. At this point, she asks if I would like to hear the heartbeat. She knows I’m anxious and that it would help calm my nerves. I lay down on the sofa and she feels for the top of my uterus. She tells me it’s right where it should be for being 12 weeks already along. Then she turns the Doppler on, and I hold my breath, waiting for her to find the baby. A few seconds pass, and then we both hear it: the steady thump-thump-thump of a healthy growing baby. I let out a sigh of relief and a little laugh as I listen to the strong heartbeat. Everything is good.
Finally, she tests my hemoglobin levels with a finger prick. She analyzes it right there. I am borderline anemic. She knows I like to be proactive, so we talk about foods high in iron and she recommends I add Black Malt Molasses to my diet. We will re-check my levels in the third trimester.
At this point I gather up my stuff and she hugs me goodbye. I’m already looking forward to my appointment next month.
So that is what the midwifery model of care looks like. Sure, it varies depending on the midwife, but overall that is what is to be expected. A lot of conversing, sharing hopes and fears, and truly being listened to. There is no one waiting for us to finish up. She is not preoccupied with other patients or co-workers. She is focused solely on me and my needs at that time. I am so thankful my research 6 years ago led me to the midwifery model of care, and ultimately, to her.