At our team at FMD we have 9 kids between the four of us. We have delivered in a variety of ways with a variety of locations and providers which has included both midwives and OBs. This mini series is a peek at our own experiences when changing from midwives to OBs and OBs to midwives and how to find the best provider for you.
OB to Midwife-Brittany's Experience
When that second pink line popped up for baby number, I didn't hesitate to send a text to Mychal Palia, owner of the Frederick Birth Center. As a doula, we had met just a few months before at a workshop and I was intent that if we had another baby, I would be delivering at the birth center. Given that the facility wasn't even open yet, I think my text was somewhere along the lines of...can I be patient number one? Thus began my journey of switching from an OB to a midwife.
My first three births were with an OB in Rockville. I had a great relationship with my provider, but in the years since Deacon I had given a lot of thought to what I wanted for my next birth. Even more importantly for my family, my OB was in Rockville and with three kids already, I was not hauling there any longer. My pregnancies had never been high risk and having supported other women through their births, I knew I was a good candidate for a midwife and a birth center.
My first and second trimesters I struggled with nausea and energy. Nothing like throwing up with three kids in a public restrooms. We addressed this with medicine, but we also discussed nutrition and supplements. In fact, each prenatal we addressed different topics from nutrition, to postpartum planning. Even though this was kid number four, this was new for me. Midwives are experts in "normal" while OBs tend to be screening for more complicated issues so the focus of appointments was very different.
When it came to my third trimester is where I really learned that choosing a provider was not just about what they could do for me. It really came down to who I was as a patient. During my three pregnancies before this one, I had experienced preterm labor around 33 weeks. It was always remedied with a hospital trip and medication. This was my fourth pregnancy and I was fully prepared when at 32 weeks I started feeling all the signs.
To address this, my midwife suggested a few things to try which included real bedrest. I have three kids...come on?! Not only was I trying to figure out how that would be possible, but I was also anxious. Did I need to go to the hospital to be sure? Was the baby really ok? Where were my shots? How about an extra cervical check? Mychal and Amy were confident though that baby girl was going nowhere fast if I really took it easy and listened to my body. Deep breaths...
During those three weeks I struggled to be comfortable with this plan. In some ways as a doula I knew too much and it made me nervous. I called my own doulas and the midwives regularly with endless questions. I questioned myself...was I doing the right thing? Did I need to do more? The struggle was very much about my own personality as a patient.
Wren came into the world in July in a birth that went better planned than any of the other three. In fact, after all the concern of preterm labor, she came later than all of my other kids...without medicine and trips that I was so concerned I needed. The switch for me was the perfect fit for this birth and I was fortunate to have this option.
I know form my own experience, it isn't always possible to find the perfect provider, and now with baby number four, I still have lessons I would take if I were to have another. Here are three things to consider if you are considering switching from an OB to a midwife.
1. Are you low risk?
Midwives work with low risk pregnancies. As stated above they are experts in normal. Since, majority of pregnancies are low risk, they are excellent options for most families. Any concerns about your health or pregnancy history can be easily addressed with a meet and greet to see if switching from an OB to midwife is right for you.
2. What is your "patient personality"?
Perhaps what I learned about most from switching providers, was about my patient personality and how important that was in a patient/provider relationship. Midwives tend to use less intervention and not only should you know that when you are making the switch, but you should be ok with that. As much as I wanted to be hands off and use less intervention when it came to managing problems in my pregnancy, I really struggled. It was a change in mindset for me and my "patient personality" really required some adjusting. Assess your "patient personality" and what you are familiar with and decide if the switch is right for you.
3. What does your family need?
My family had a really hard time with my third son. We had an unexpected NICU stay and still struggled with a lot of feelings around this. A supportive midwife was a perfect fit for what my family needed this time around and we are grateful for the Frederick Birth Center for providing this. Figure out what your family needs (I believe the more support the better) and a midwife might be the right fit!
Stay tuned next week for part two of our mini series on finding the right provider for you!