mid·wife /ˈmidˌwīf/ — A person trained to assist women in childbirth
My midwife is a man. I’m guessing that most of you have never heard of a male midwife, but seriously you guys – my midwife rocks. He has been delivering babies in this rural county that I live in since 1983 – that’s 30 years! That’s almost as long as I’ve been alive, which means he has a great amount of experience, but he isn’t so old that he’s antiquated and out of touch with current technology and research. His wife (and now full time birth assistant) became a nurse in 1976 and has worked in various nursing fields since then (including L&D and NICU). Most days you’ll find them sailing on the local reservoir, having a drink and enjoying life — that is when they’re not busy volunteering for the local ambulance crew (he is a Certified EMT-I), mountain rescue team, and delivering area babies!
I consider childbirth to be a beautiful, sacred, and natural sequence of love. In my practice, I strive to facilitate the type of birth experience that parents most desire. I honor families and try to individualize my care. l believe that it is very important for people to be clear about why they want a home birth. Also, l believe that people should have good information about their choices of care providers so that they can make a decision that feels good and works for them.
Bill used to deliver 50+ babies a year, but now he only takes on about half that so that he has more free time. From 37 weeks and onward in a patient’s pregnancy, he is on call and in the area, and those final weekly visits will be done at my home. The visits from now until then are done at his house, which is about 20 minutes north of here and located along a beautiful river. Click here for a photo I took in June while walking up the sidewalk to my 12w appointment. Pretty awesome, eh?! He has delivered adult friends of mine 30 years ago and the babies of friends of mine (including a breech baby) in the past few years, all comfortably in their own homes. I feel 100% confident about our decision to go with a planned midwife assisted home birth this time around.
Hospital Birth or Home Birth?
For those of you who are newer readers, we had a midwife assisted hospital birth with Stella, and I used the HypnoBabies program as our pain management technique. Our birth preferences were followed to a T, and it was an absolutely wonderful birth experience. The entire thing took place in under 5 hours (they said it would have been under 3 if she has been positioned correctly!), so it was a bit of a whirlwind, but things went well.
Even though we had such a good experience last time, I still knew that I really wanted to attempt a home waterbirth if we were ever blessed to conceive a second child. I had lobbied for this with #1, but it made my husband too nervous, so we compromised on the midwife assisted hospital birth. I say “compromised” because at the time, all my husband knew about birth was what he’d seen on TV – screaming women asking for pain meds, and OBs jumping in at the last minute to grab the baby. This was not my ideal birth experience. Charlie thought I was crazy when I said I was planning on using self-hypnosis techniques for pain management and using a Midwife for my care, but he definitely came around to the idea.
When I found out we were expecting again, one of the first things I did was email Bill to set up an initial consult. I knew Charlie would take some convincing, and I wanted to give him plenty of time to come around to the idea of home birth. When I was about 6 weeks along, we had a two hour meeting with Bill and his wife, and it was a great time for Charlie to ask any and all questions he had about safety, transfers, medications, experience, etc. They also gave us a big packet of information about each of them, the practice, the protocols, my personal patient history (including asking for a written account of my previous birth story), etc. It was all very through, and I think that impressed Charlie. On the drive home I asked him his opinion about it, and he said he needed time. I proceeded to bite my tongue for about two weeks before saying a single word about it again to him, and when I asked him again about it, he said something along the lines of “well obviously it’s what you want, so I guess it’s what we’re going to do.” In my husband’s language, that means he was acquiescing because he felt more comfortable with it — though when I told him that yes, I do plan on renting a birthing tub, he called me “hippy dippy” – because apparently birthing your baby in the water is something only hippies do. 🙂
Reasons I Chose Home Birth
There are as many reasons to want different types of birth experiences as there are women, but here are a few of my reasons for choosing to plan on a midwife assisted home birth for baby #2. The reasons are all sort of intertwined, so bear with me.
Less Stress – Stressing about when to go to the hospital last time was honestly one of the hardest parts of my birth with Stella. We live 30 miles away from the hospital, and I was so afraid of getting there too early and having unnecessary and unwanted interventions heaped upon me that we maybe ended up cutting it a little too close! (I was fully dilated & effaced and ready to push when I walked in the door at midnight.) Also, riding in the car being in transition / being fully dilated and having contractions? NOT FUN.
More Choices – This applies to many different aspects of the birth experience, including but not limited to:
- The option to eat food if I so desire. I didn’t last time, but I think that’s because it went so fast!
- I want to wear whatever clothing I feel comfortable in – not necessarily something that works with an IV line, etc. I was naked last time, and I’m guessing I will be this time, but somehow that feels more comfortable in your own home!
- I’d like to have the freedom to try any different birth position that feels good to me at the time. My coworker just had her baby at the same hospital we went to with Stella, and the nurses spent the entire time she was in transition criticizing her positioning choices (like standing and holding the bar over the toilet in the bathroom). I want providers surrounding me who understand the benefit of different positions and are open to letting me try them!
- Water birth! My hospital doesn’t allow it (they have 1 tub you have to hope is available and you can labor it in only).
Respect for My Choices – There are midwives and OBs who fall on all ends of the spectrum of this, and unfortunately too many providers say one thing when you’re at your prenatal appointment and another thing in the heat of the moment.
- I love knowing that there is no hoping that the midwife or OB on call when my birthing time begins is the one who most agrees with my birthing philosophy (thankfully that was the case last time, but that only had a 20% chance of happening!). This time I will know it’s Bill who will be there when I call, I know his proven track record for supporting birthing mothers and their choices whenever possible, and that makes me feel great!
- It’s also comforting to know that Bill and his wife will have most definitely read my birth plan and be on board with my choices (like no eye ointment / VitK shot / HepB shot / etc) and I won’t feel like I have to be vigilant to ensure those things don’t happen without my consent anyway.
Safer – Yes, for low risk pregnancies, planned midwife assisted home birth is safer than a hospital birth, not the least of which is because it’s easier to avoid the cascade of interventions that often happen in a hospital setting. In a recent study done in Canada, it was determined that the rate of perinatal death per 1000 births was .35 for planned midwife assisted homebirths – significantly less than the .57 among hospital midwife births and .64 for physician attended hospital births. Childbirth is a natural part of life – not a medical “condition” as doctors and hospitals have been trained to think of it as.
Cost – We have maternity coverage, but we have a high deductible plan thanks to having a crazy expensive individual health insurance policy. Basically, we have a $5,000 individual deductible, plus we pay 30% coinsurance after that up to $12,500. This means that an uncomplicated, non-medicated hospital birth (like I had last time) would cost us nearly $8,000 — but a home birth is going to cost us only $4,000 for all of my prenatal, birthing, and postnatal care. Also, home birth is covered by my insurance (yes – this was a pleasant surprise), so if we need to transfer for any reason, at least the midwife fees would go towards our deductible anyway!
So there ya go… my synopsis on why I am super crazy incredibly over-the-moon excited about our birthing plan this time around. Yes, I had an awesome experience with Stella, but the home waterbirth was the one missing key to the puzzle, and I would love to get to experience that this time!
How about you? How did you choose the type of birth experience you were hoping for? Did you plan way ahead like me, or did you just wing it? Do you have any other questions about home birth that I might be able to answer?
This is so cool Jos! Question. Have you thought about where Stella will be/what she will be doing/how much she will/won’t be around during the whole birthing process?? Just curious 🙂
Shoot – I meant to address this in the post and spaced it! For now the plan will be to have her around and involved. My friends who have also done home births have all said it was interesting – not traumatic – for the siblings to be part of the action. Granted I was older when our brother was born (9?), but I remember thinking it was really cool to be in the room while Mom was in her birthing time!
Also, one of my closest friends (and also a neighbor who lives 3 doors down) used HypnoBabies, is planning on a home birth for #2, and had a daughter Stella’s age — SOO, if i’m needing extra support/reinforcements for me and/or Stella, she will be on my speed dial as a doula/childcare help I’m sure. 🙂
A friend of mine had a home birth with her 3 YO sleeping in bed next to her and her 4YO watching the whole thing. Totally cool.
That’s really cool! I don’t think I would be comfortable enough to do a home birth, but I like the idea of it. I also have high blood pressure so a hospital birth is probably the safest option for me. My birth plan is to just wing it. I would ideally like to go into labor naturally but I’m open to induction if my BP gets too high or I develop pre-eclampisia. I’ll see how long I go without drugs but I’ll take the epidural if it gets to be too much. I just want a real live baby at the end of this. If I get that, I truly think I’ll be happy with whatever happens.
I totally support that a women needs to give birth in the place she is most comfortable – for some that is a hospital, for others a birthing center (closest one is 6 hrs from here), and for yet others it is home!
I think the most important thing to remember (and not judge about) is that we obviously ALL want real live babies at the end of it – no matter where we are choosing to bring them into this world! 🙂
In the Netherlands (where I gave birth), home births are the default unless they are medically contra-indicated. A home birth had always been part of my plan (it helped that my sister had (in the US) had three babies at home at that point, and had a fourth while I was pregnant), but one of the reasons I was perfectly OK with it was because the nearest hospital was a 10 minute walk away. Turns out this was a good thing; I was already dilated 9.5cm when we called my midwives and they arrived, but even though they broke my water things didn’t progress very fast after transition. They don’t generally want you to push more than two hours at home, since after that the possibility of complications rises significantly, so after I’d been futily pushing for about an hour I was given a 15 min. warning, “If things don’t change we’re going to call for the ambulance so that it gets here in time to get you to the hospital before the 2 hours are up”. And that’s what ended up happening (if you think contractions in a car are bad, try them strapped to a gurney! That was the only really unpleasant part, but it didn’t last long). At the hospital, they ended up needing to use the vacuum briefly to get Gwen turned around sufficiently (she was head down, but on her side and her shoulder kept getting caught), and after that things went quickly.
She was born a little less than an hour after we arrived, and about four hours after that we were on our way home. My husband and mom walked home with her, I took a taxi. 🙂
It’s always good to read about midwifery care (and even home births!) being the standard of care in a 1st world industrialized nation unless medically contra-indicated. Hospitals are great for complications when needed — I’m just of the opinion that too many complications are caused by BEING at hospitals in the first place (the whole – if you have access to all these options, it’s too easy to use them instead of giving your body time and being relaxed about the whole thing). I’m glad you and your providers were able to make the best decisions for you and your baby!
I’m also curious how long my midwife would let me push before transferring – I have a feeling it’s a lot more than 1 hr, but I’ll have to check. I have many friends who have routinely pushed for 2-4… hm…
I would be SHOCKED if you pushed for that long with your second.
I had wanted to deliver naturally in a hospital. However, due to my blood pressure we ended up doing a c-section. So now unless I go to a bigger hospital (no thank you) I will always be a c-section. It was not what I wanted at all but in the end I was able to have Reagan arrive safe and healthy.
Ya, 1 have a close friend who had an emergency-c with #1, and she’d now have to drive 2 hrs to even have the option of trying a VBAC, which totally frustrates her. Around here, the more VBAC friendly hospitals are actually NOT the bigger hospitals (which tend to have more rules and regulations about everything). Interesting…
Someone said to me when I was pregnant with Smudgie that the best place to give birth is the place you feel safest. For me, that’s a university hospital with a level-4 NICU! Could I have given birth at home last time? Probably. I had an uncomplicated and fast vaginal delivery. But I took comfort in the reassurance that we were in the place with the best resources to address the anything troubling that came up. I’m a plan-for-the-worst, hope-for-the-best sort of person. I’m going to follow the same instinct this time.
My delivery of Smudgie was exactly how I hoped it would be, which is such a blessing. I tried to go in with zero expectations so I wouldn’t have regrets or recriminations if it didn’t turn out “perfectly,” but it really did. I went into labor on my own, labored at home for a few hours, made it to the hospital at 6cm and got an epidural (I had wanted to be at least 5 cm before pain meds, since I’d read that after that point they are less likely to slow labor), got to sleep for a few hours, woke up fully dilated and pushed the little dude out in 25 minutes! I’ll consider myself very lucky if the next delivery goes as smoothly, though I know these things can’t be predicted so easily.
You’re right that a lot of this has to do with the type of people we are. I would never ever describe myself as a plan for the worst, hope for the best person! I’m more of a “research the hell out of it and then relax and enjoy the ride” kind of person. 🙂 Can you believe we’re doing this again!
Yes, it is insane to be having these conversations again! I’m glad we can both give birth in the place that feels safest and most comfortable for each us and I hope our next deliveries are just as wonderful as the first. There’s something very fortunate about being able to think back on the day you gave birth and feel truly satisfied about how it all happened. I think last time my go-to words for how I wanted things to unfold were “peaceful” “pleasant” and “calm”. While a lot of people wouldn’t associate a hospital birth with those things, for me it absolutely was.
Looking back at Ava’s birth, I wish I would have waited longer for the epidural or even tried the natural route. However, for me I perfer to be in the hospital in case of an emergency. We live 30 minutes from the hospital and with my placenta breaking apart/blood loss I was very thankful to be at the hospital. I would have hated to put Ben through all that worry if we were home. He was worried enough with that occurring at the hospital.
Having said that – I think it is awesome that you are are pursuing the birth experience you want with this baby. I have always been intrigued by waterbirths. It looks like you have done tons and tons of research and know what you are doing. I am happy for you and can’t wait to hear all about it.
Thanks Kelly – I’m excited to get to attempt this experience as well!
As far as the placenta/blood loss, if there is any sign of trouble like that, my midwife would always call 911 and transfer me. However, he also is equipped to handle a lot of that as well – he can give me shots of pitocin to help with blood loss, he will have 2 oxygen setups ready (1 calibrated for me, 1 for baby), etc. We were really impressed when we asked him questions about that type of stuff, because like you, we are also 30 minutes from a hopsital.
Wow I am impressed with your midwife too! He sounds absolutely awesome!
I laboured in the tub with my first child, and the second was born in water, and I was the one who caught him and put him on my chest. Absolutely wonderful experiences. Birth can easily go either absolutely great or horribly wrong. I was lucky to have nothing go wrong. And I wish the same to you.
Oh, and just so you know, what THEY say about the second time being faster, well, THEY are wrong so many times, but this one is true. I think the first time it took me 6-7 hours from the time I started feeling the contractions until I pushed him out, and the second time it was precisely 4 hours and a half. Be warned. 🙂
I was able to “catch” Stella and pull her up onto my chest as well – pretty surreal experience! I’ve even more excited to have the chance to maybe do it in water. 😉
I’ve heard subsequent labors can go even faster – another reason I didn’t want the stress of having to get to the hospital this time!
So happy for you that you are going to get this awesome experience and that Charlie is now on board too!! 🙂 Your midwife sounds awesome!! I am actually super jealous as this isn’t even a possibility here unless I have a midwife shipped down 😉 But I will live vicariously through you and am so excited to hear how it all goes. A water birth sounds heavenly to me… well as heavenly as pushing a baby out can be. Don’t think I haven’t thought of birthing a baby in our pool! 😉
LMAO… I would pay money to have you do a water birth in your pool. That would be AWESOME. LOL
I wish I felt more in control of my pregnancy but I relinquished a lot of control when I found out it was twins. I can’t plan the birth experience I really want but am ok with that as long as I have 2 healthy babies. A lot of it comes down to the positioning of baby A and we still have a lot of time before that’s pretty set. I’m just trying to go with the flow as much as possible. Sounds like you found an amazing midwife though.
Twin births are definitely a whole different animal! I hope that Baby A gets in position for you to try a vaginal birth (if that’s what you want), but if not, have you heard of family-centered Cesarean births? Scambled Eggs has been doing an awesome series on it – b/c of a stubborn breech baby, she ended up having to scratch her natural birth plan, but she ended up with such an amazing experience anyway. Definitely worth checking out!!
Thank you, thank you for posting these links! It is very encouraging to read this plan and has me thinking about our plan this time around as it looks like we will be heading down the c-section road once more. I loved reading your plan for Stella and your upcoming birth as well. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with your personal preferences, it is thought provoking to everyone, and that is always a good thing 🙂
I think Charlie borrowed my brain for a minute. That is word for word what I’ve said to McMister many, many times 🙂 I have a midwife vs OB post coming soon bc we switched insurances and a midwife isn’t the default option anymore 🙁
Does “isn’t the default option” mean “isn’t an option at all?” I’m curious to read your post!
Sounds like you’ve found a great person to help you through your second delivery. I think that’s pretty cool that it’s a man. I myself had never heard of it before, but it sounds like he has quite the reputation in your town. I hope your experience this time around is everything you could hope for and more!
Thanks Steph! I thought it was odd at first, but then realized I had always had a male PCP for my annual physicals and that I had a male RE and that was never weird, so yeah… 🙂
This is fabulous. I wanted a homebirth, too, but my partner just couldn’t agree. I’m hoping that the second time around he will feel more comfortable with it!
That’s what happened for us! I get that you have to be comfortable with the idea, which is why I didn’t push too hard the 1st time. I’m SO excited to have Charlie on board with it this time! It helps that his older brother in MN also had a wife who pushed for a home waterbirth with #2 last summer. 🙂
I’m glad you’re getting a chance to get exactly what you want!!!!!!!
I had a great labor and delivery with Avery! My water broke, and I had to go on pitocin, but since I had pre-term labor I was all ready 3cm and 75% effaced. They had to turn off the pitocin after 3 hours and I got an epidural, took a nap, then woke up and pushed for an hour. It was calm, relaxed, not painful, and joyous, just what I wanted!
I have always thought about laboring and even delivering in a birthing tub, but then you can’t have an epidural, so I gave up on that idea!!!!!
Even though our plans and preferences are different, we both want a positive experience where we feel comfortable and get our healthy baby!
I am excited to hear your birth story!!!!
I love this. 🙂 Totally different experiences, but exactly the experiences we were both hoping for, and that’s awesome!
I’m with Kaiser so I don’t really have a choice about how and where to birth my babies. I would love to do a water birth but Kaiser doesn’t do that and we can’t afford the $5-8K that midwives cost for home births in our area. Last time we splurged for a doula but we won’t be able to afford that again this time. So it’s a hospital birth for me, though we can (and did and will) drive 30 minutes south to attend the Kaiser hospital with a midwife program instead of our local Kaiser which is a teaching hospital. I guess that is one small choice we can make.
I think it’s awesome you can have this experience. I wish more woman had choices like these.
Oh, I should say that I had back labor the last time (and no epidural/pain medications) and it was pretty horrible. I absolutely want an epidural this time around if there is back labor and I may get one even if there isn’t. I did the unmediated birth experience and it was pretty harrowing for me. I’m fine with meds the next time around, if that is what I feel I need to do. 😉
Oh E! I am so thankful for my epi. The posterior back labor is horrendous.
It’s crazy to me to realize that for some people, it’s actually cheaper to go with a regular hospital birth. We just have such shitty insurance that it’s never been the case! Where I live (town of 1000 ppl, county of 4000 ppl), group insurance provided by employers is pretty much non-existent (companies are just so small), so shitty individual insurance is the norm. I’m sure it is also part of the reason that so many people are into alternative medicine, birthing experiences, and the like!
Also, I had posterior back labor as well – not fun – but I can’t recommend HypnoBabies enough. It really helped me to handle the pain incredibly well!! HB for the win. 😉
i have seriously mixed feelings about waiting as long as i did for an epidural, especially after reading the recent evidence based birth review about ‘failure to progress’. http://evidencebasedbirth.com/friedmans-curve-and-failure-to-progress-a-leading-cause-of-unplanned-c-sections/
I also feel a little bit misled by everyone who portrayed birth as this ‘zen-like’ experience that it was possible to breath through. It was harrowing… beyond intense… I am terrified of ever going through an experience like it again. I understand now that the intensity was due to being induced, but omg…
Foxy – I read your birth story yesterday, and wow, it definitely sounds pretty harrowing (no offense, but i need to not re-read it or comment or think about it much right now – bubble of peace and all that). I just wanted to say that I’m sure most weren’t trying to “midlead” you about the ctxs. For me, the 2+ hrs of pushing b/c Stella was stuck head down but sideways – that was harrowing and hard and intense and insane — BUT, I really did use my HypnoBabies training to breathe through contractions and go into my own head and totally zone out during the 1st stage of labor. I know that every labor is different, and I most certainly did NOT ‘breathe’ my baby out peacefully, but for me, getting from 0-10 dilation was super intense, but absolutely nothing like your experience. It’s so crazy to me how it can be so different for everyone!
I wouldn’t go a home birth (too scared and would feel more secure within a hospital) but would love love love a natural water birth. I was so the thankful for my epi last time (effin posterior back labour) and next time, because there will be a next time I am going with the mid wife service not the ob gyn. I think a home birth is a wonderful empowering experience and I look forward to hearing about it!
Ya, if we had a birth center closer than 6 hours or even a hospital closer than 2 hours that allowed water birth, we quite possibly would have gone that route instead — but there’s not, so home water birth it is!
Sounds to me you’ve got a pretty sweet situation going on 🙂
[…] this time around, but I hadn’t been inspired to actually sit down and do it. Then Josey wrote a post on what she has planned for her second birth and I thought it was finally time to relay my thoughts […]
I’m so happy for you that everything is falling into place for you to have the ideal birth for you. Hope you are feeling better too!
Still puking nights, but not during days, so that’s improvement!
I love my male OB and think it’s cool that your midwife is a man!
I was so envious of our mutual friends who have had recent home births. As I’ve shared recently on my blog and the comments of others’ blogs, home birthing is not an option for me, but I sure think it’s neat when others do it. I hope it all works out for you and I to read about it in a few short months.
Thanks, Courtney! I’m pretty excited about it all, for sure. 🙂
I’m so happy that you were able to find an option that you’re excited about and that everything seems set to work out positively, including Charlie and Stella’s involvement. Everyone I know who used HypnoBabies seems thrilled with their birth experience, including you, which is a pretty great endorsement.
Yes m’am! What are your birth plans with #2? Did you write about Mira’s birth? I don’t know if I followed you back then.
OH Josey! I am so SO excited for you! I knew you wanted this with Stella and I couldn’t be happier you WILL get to experience this with baby #2! As I am even higher risk now, I, like a couple of the ladies above me, will only feel more comfortable in a hospital setting with a NICU team near by. Even more so this time. After reading R’s and SRB’s posts after their home birth experiences I realized how wonderful it can be if that’s the kind of experience you want. As a NICU nurse all I see is bad things and we all know how my mind races with the worst case scenarios. This time around I will have a doula, who was my delivery nurse with Raegan. She will be able to be more focused on me and Babe and our desires. I did not have too detailed of a birth plan last time because it was too scary to think of what can go wrong. This time I will definitely be a bit more detailed especially with C/S plans with my GD diagnosis. I can’t wait to read your experience!!!! And I can’t wait to hear how Charlie feels about the experience after baby #2 is here!
I hope that having a doula this time around really helps you to feel even more supported and empowered this time around!! May we all have awesome birth experiences. 🙂
I LOVE that you are so excited about this. That is what matters. And i am so happy that Charlie agreed to this and that you are both going to share this wonderful experience in a few more months.
I am very interested in the science behind the study you link to. I looked through it and it seems to very much support what you’ve said, but I want to know WHY. Why on earth are things like prolapsed cord more likely to occur with a physician attended birth?
I’m VERY excited about all of this. 🙂
I didn’t see the statement about prolapsed cord being more/less likely to occur? That seems bizarre to me. It does make sense that there are fewer interventions so lower rates of further complications that can be a result of them (assisted birth, severe tearing, etc).
Overall, I 100% know that home birth isn’t for everyone – I just wish people who say ignorant statements about home birthers being cavalier about their babies lives would do a little more research!
I love that your midwife is a man. That is just so cool. The doctor who delivered Harriet was also a man, and I feel sort of bad saying this, but I think I will always choose male doctors to deliver my future babies. Not at all because I think they’re smarter or more competent or anything. I just liked the vibe our doc gave off. I almost feel like the fact that he’d never given birth before helped the situation because he really let me take the reins and communicated with his words, his body language, etc that I was the expert on this process, not him. I just loved that. Not to say that another doctor will be the same way, but I still like the idea of a guy delivering our next baby…midwife or doctor.
[…] with Stella. Honestly, I still cry if I reread that post. I also wrote out my thoughts about how we chose to pursue the route of a midwife assisted homebirth. I followed it up with a fired up post about Setting the Bar Higher and my frustration with the […]