Why I chose midwifery

Rebirth Nurse is going to be doing a “blog carnival”:

When I first started blogging, I really enjoyed reading blog carnivals covering different nursing topics. But with school, and now a “real” job, I’ve gotten away from really reading or contributing to them.

So, I was thinking that I would start up one!

My unofficial blog carnivals will be posted here, twice monthly. The carnival will be called The Rebirth Carnival (how original, I know, I know…). I will announce the carnival topic about two weeks in advance. Submissions can include old posts, or something written specifically for the carnival.

The first carnival will be up on August 9. I’m looking for posts about why you chose midwifery, either for your care or for your career.

Please pass the word!

Submit your post link to my email: knitting-fool AT hotmail DOT com.

This sounds cool. Now, why did I choose midwifery?

It was a long road. As a teenager, I had no particular desire to have a natural birth — in fact, I remember saying at one point that I’d have an epidural, or it was stupid not to have an epidural, or why go through that pain if you didn’t have to? — that sort of thing. Undoubtedly, I was heavily influenced by the current culture (it hasn’t really changed much “out there” in the normal world, which is why I like my little blogging world so much), including a friend who had just become a nurse and gone into L&D, and sang the praises loud and long for epidurals, professing confusion as to why women would not get one if they could.

Then a few years later, I regularly babysat for a woman, and when she became pregnant for the third time, dragged out all her pregnancy, labor, and birth books. Voracious reader that I am, I read through them. Plus, I wanted to make sure that I knew what to do if she had a precipitous labor, and I ended up being her only birth attendant! She wasn’t particularly pro-natural birth (I know she had epidurals with at least three of her births; although the third labor went so fast that the epidural didn’t have a chance to take effect before birth, and the fourth labor was similarly quick, so I’m not sure if she managed to get the ol’ needle-in-the-spine that time either), but she liked Dr. Sears for his baby advice, and had his Birth Book among other books.

It would be several years before I first got pregnant, and I wasn’t particularly interested in birth, but would sometimes make note of birth stories, interventions, complications, etc., and by the time I got pregnant, I had made the switch into planning not just a natural birth but a home birth. Honestly, I can’t remember what clinched it for me — why I changed. Probably, my oldest sister’s first birth had something to do with it, although I was already leaning towards “natural” at that time. Many women in my church and among other friends had home births, which made it seem more normal to me. I knew two midwives, both of whom were CNMs, both of whom attended home births. So, perhaps I was heavily influenced by a pro-home/natural-birth subculture.

When I got pregnant, I already knew I would be having a home birth. There were several factors in it, as listed above, but another factor was the financial one — I didn’t have health insurance, and home birth is a lot cheaper than a hospital birth. That by itself is not a good enough reason to have a home birth; but it is one consideration. Novice that I was, I didn’t realize all the politics surrounding birth — primarily that many states had outlawed midwives except CNMs, and in states that had CNMs, they may be heavily regulated. So, modern, internet-savvy gal that I am, I turned to the web to find a local midwife. I’m not sure what I would have done had I not been able to find one. Living in the suburbs of Chicago at the time, there were several midwives who served the Chicagoland, so I actually had a pick of midwives. However, I didn’t know enough to even know what to ask in an interview, or how to find out if the midwife was a good “fit” for me or not (not all personalities jive, after all). But I liked what she said and how she acted, so I went with the one and only midwife I interviewed. That’s not a course of action I would wholesale recommend, although it worked out for me. It might not work out for everyone.

Why did I choose a midwife? Partly because I assumed that only midwives attended home births. Actually, there is a doctor practice that attends home births in Chicago (Dr. Mayer Eisenstein of HomeFirst), but I didn’t know that at the time. Would I have gone with him had I known? Probably not. Even then, there was just something about a female birth attendant that appealed to me. Not saying that men can’t be a good birth attendant… just that I wanted a woman to attend me in labor. So I’m sexist that way. 🙂 It was more the “doula” aspects of midwifery care that appealed to me than simply giving birth at home, or having a female OB. To me, in general, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between a male OB and a female OB — I’ve heard so many good and bad birth stories with doctors of both sexes, that I wouldn’t make the doctor’s gender to be a deciding thing. I expect a doctor to be a doctor — reserved, clinical, doing his job, most likely coming in only to catch, and otherwise managing birth over the phone. I expect a midwife to be a midwife — touching, comforting, helping, guiding, aiding, being there — “with woman,” as the original term meant. It’s the difference between choosing a mechanic and a husband — totally different expectations and criteria — not really in the same ballpark. Perhaps that seems nonsensical to you, but that’s a fitting analogy in my mind. (Now, if you can find a husband who is also a mechanic, that might make him a doubly-good choice; likewise, if you can find a doctor with a midwife’s qualities. But from what I’ve seen and heard, those doctors are few and far between.)

Why did I choose a midwife? Because as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only choice to make!


4 Responses

  1. Is there a link to Rebirth’s blog so we can participate/read other blogs in the carnival?

  2. Oops! Forgot it. I’ve fixed it now — at the top of the post, but here it is in the comments, too.

  3. OK, you have inspired me to write why I chose a CNM for my second baby. Hopefully I can have it written by the deadline!

  4. Thank you!

    I agree about the OB’s gender- who cares?! Though I do think men OBs are more gentle than female OBs.

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