If you’re imagining a long-haired hippie wearing a tie-dyed skirt who chants while waving incense when an expecting mama mentions her appointment with a midwife: keep reading.
After receiving prenatal care from both OBGYNs and multiple midwives, it seems only right to share the similarities differences I’ve experienced. Plus, I’ll hit on some of the not-so-true and oh-so-true stereotypes of midwifery care. Obviously I can only speak from my limited experiences, but I hope to clarify the prenatal midwife experience for all those who might be curious!
♦ You might have to wait before appointments at either office. The atmosphere is typically much less office-y with a midwife, which I prefer. As an added bonus, every midwife I have seen uses essential oils, so as I wait my blood pressure actually lessens and I become MORE relaxed rather than less. I borderline enjoy my wait.
♦ Blood pressure and weight will be checked. You will pee in a cup and have bloodwork drawn for testing. You can pretty much expect not to have to do those last two nearly as many times at a midwife, though.
♦ You’ll likely be sent out for an ultrasound at both, but many midwives will limit baby’s exposure to further ultrasounds during a healthy pregnancy. My midwife even offers the option of using a fetoscope instead of Doppler at my appointments.
♦ Your belly gets measured at both the OB and the midwife to monitor growth. It’s literally the same brand tape measure. My midwife, however, routinely explains to me how baby is lying. She’ll help me feel around to identify what is a spine and what is a foot. This seems so small, but it may be my favorite part of every appointment.
♦ They’ll ask you the same questions about how you’ve been feeling. I find that my midwife asks far more questions and holds me much more accountable than my OBGYN. She’ll want to know specifics about how much (and what kind) of exercise I am doing, as well as how my diet is going (dark green leafies, water, and protien discussions are the norm). She also wants to know more about how the pregnancy is impacting me and my family: How’s my stress? Are there any lingering fears? How is my husband feeling? Because she attacks the pregnancy more wholistically, my apointments last quite a bit longer.
♦ The OB office has better people watching. Hands. Down.
Midwife Stereotype Feeding:
♦ My midwife encouraged me to switch to things like a raw prenatal, a DHA supplement from only certain fish sources, starting a probiotic, and juicing (especially beets and apples.)
♦ She offers research and reasoning for every choice she gives us. Yes, choice. Midwifery is ALL about informed consent and educating moms and families. I think that every time a mom asks for more information about why a procedure/test/protocol is or is not done, a midwife fairy gets its wings.
♦ She asks me if I’ve considered a chiropractor when I mention certain aches or pains. My last midwife finally just begged me to try it (I had never been before) and I couldn’t believe the difference it made for me.
♦ They ask if I’ve solidified plans for my placenta just as casually as they ask if I have packed my birth bag yet.
♦ They not only encouraged me to make a birth plan, they showed me how to make a “visual birth plan” (simplifying a birth plan into pictures)
♦ My last midwife group had essential oils diffusing throughout the rooms, a waterfall, and water infused with various fruits and herbs in the waiting room. Plus there were always bowls of dried fruits or nuts to snack on.
Midwife Stereotype Busting:
♦ She uses an iPad to track all my medical information. For some reason this surprised me.
♦ She prays with us. I (wrongly) assumed midwives were basically all into a nature based spirituality. Shame on me for generalizing. Having a care giver who can not only address my desire to have my faith be intertwined with my pregnancy and labor, but who can also bring me back to it when I get off track is unbelievably powerful. The first time we hit a big fork in the pregnancy road and she stopped us all to pray about it, I knew we were exaclty where we needed to be. Obviously this is not something ALL midwives do.
♦ She dresses really cute. Like cuter than me. Throw out those images of a long hand-woven skirt and denim vest and embrace the idea that the modern midwife may be even more modern than you! In the small things, like her adorable top, and in the big things, like the quality and comprehensiveness of care you’ll receive, you might be pleasantly surprised!