Friday, August 12, 2011

Finding a Midwife

My wife is now 31 weeks pregnant. What? Already? As we look around our new home (we just moved to a new city in Michigan), we realize how much work we have to do to get ready for this new baby. Not the least of the work we have to do is to get a midwife.

We found our midwife last week. It was easy for us in this instance: the options are limited in the first place and she was referred to us by a friend who used her in her most recent birth. She still had to pass the litmus test, though, so we met her at her house on a sweltering August day (she didn't use air conditioning) and sat and talked with her for a couple hours or so. We ended up liking her, shaking hands, and making an appointment for our next prenatal. As our midwife put it: "This is going to be fun!"

Many people don't consider the homebirth option, despite the fact that for the majority of pregnancies, it's the best option. We've given birth in two hospitals, one stand-alone birthing center, and for our fourth (and final), we plan on giving birth inside the home.

I can tell you from experience that the hospital births were terrible. While yes, the magic ended up happening, it only happened after a knock-down drag-out fight between us and the staff who would like us to be quiet and take orders. My wife was not allowed to eat or drink during those labors, and she had to be constantly monitored and, of course, she had to give birth while lying on her back. The entire time, we were threatened with cesarean section, as if my wife just wasn't trying had enough. While this may be an unfair point of view to hold, it is born of my experience in two separate hospitals. Hopefully, your hospital birth was better or would be better. But our were arduous.
The birthing center was magical. Because my wife was allowed to move around and not be monitored, her labor was 1/3 the time. Because she was allowed to eat and drink, she did not suffer from extreme exhaustion. And because of all of the above and no drugs, the nursing relationship was formed quicker and stronger.

A homebirth allows you more sovereignty over your experience. It lets you do what is best for you and not what is best for liability practices. Our midwife has attended over 700 births and is not afraid to transfer to the hospital if she has to. In our area, midwife care is affordable--under $2000--while the average hospital birth costs $20,000 (without insurance) and can run into the $40,000 range if a c-section happens.

Insurance won't touch the cost of our midwife. You may remember that I argued for weeks to get my insurance to pay for our birthing center. I've researched the court histories of people who have tried to get their insurance to pay for homebirth in this state. I wonder why they don't, of course, as they could pay just 10% of what they would pay for in the hospital. Instead our midwife has agreed to a payment plan.

Now, in addition to getting unpacked and arranging the furniture, we are also working on finding a place to fill up the birthing tub. We are in the bonus round here, as we never had planned on having a fourth baby, but we are excited to do things exactly how we want and with the professional help that we need.


Melia said...

I must confess, getting a home birth (my husband is phobic) is the part that makes me happiest about moving to NY. No free standing birth centers and he won't go back to the hospital so I get to stay home. YES!

Nikki said...

Our last was born at home. I wish we could go back and re-do the other 5. Best experience EVER! My husband LOVES to talk about our son being born at home.

Anonymous said...

Remain hyper-vigilant in your care with local midwives. In this state, midwifery is not regulated, which can be a great thing. However, I've also seen it go horribly wrong, in several areas of this state including here in the Tri Cities area. I had an experience this summer with a mom where there was enough blame to be spread, including towards her out-of-hospital care provider. Please remain hyper vigilant, demand the care you deserve, and follow your instincts. Don't be afraid to seek a second opinion. Be certain to get educated on the use of herbs and meds which some local midwives use during pregnancy; some applications I've heard of recently are contraindicated. I've had a local out of hospital birth, and it was great, but you need to be certain to take charge of your care. And have fun!