Part two of the midwife series. (Oh, that sounds like a title for PBS!)
Learning a subject, supporting the subject, and applying the subject to life are vastly different proposals. As you can imagine, studying midwifery came with lots of comparisons to OB prenatal care. I realized that OB care treated pregnancy like an illness to be treated, rather than a natural occurrence of nature that the woman’s body can handle. I studied over years of statistics between OB care and midwifery care. That alone alerted me, that I wanted my birth to be different. (I could make a whole post about statistics, those are boring; but in my next few posts I will share a few that you just need to know.)
So, I’ve told you how I became interested in midwifery, now, I will tell you why I support midwifery. I can only tell you the reasoning behind the support by sharing the birth story of my daughter. Don’t worry, it isn’t graphic with gory adjectives and pictures.
When found out I was pregnant I began researching nurse-midwives and OBs within my area. I was not going to chance delivering out of state to use a midwife, like some AL women do. I saw that nurse midwives are supervised by an OB and the OB would have the final medical call and be present for the delivery. What was the point of having a nurse midwife then? So, I found an OB that accepted my choice for an all natural, un-medicated birth. That meant no un-necessary medical interventions, induced labor, or epidural. Alabama OBs are swamped. There is too much demand and not enough supply. If your pregnancy is seemingly normal and healthy, your appointments are short. I only saw my OB a handful of times, I saw a nurse most of the time. I passed my urine tests, blood tests, and the glucose test. I was considered on schedule and low maintenance.
At 36 weeks pregnant, on May 2nd, I’m nesting. I just had my baby shower that weekend and I’m washing all the little clothes. Lots of bending over and standing. So, at 2 pm, when my back began to hurt, I thought “Oops, I tweaked my back.” (I have scoliosis. I easily tweak my back, take some Tylenol, and rest some.) I knew I needed to sit down, prop up my feet, and eat a light lunch anyway. I lost track of time and didn’t eat lunch earlier. I saw some leftover rice pilaf from the night before. 30 minutes later, the rice pilaf was not agreeing with my tummy; I begin to have digestion issues. I texted my husband, to find out the rice pilaf I ate was two weeks old. He taken last night’s leftovers. (Now, I regularly clean out the fridge.) “Oh no, I gave myself food poisoning.”, I thought. The husband had to work late, and by 6 pm when I normally drive to the barn to feed and tuck in my horse; I was still too sick and my back was worse. The husband took on the responsibility. All the barn ladies told him I was in labor. We didn’t believe them. It was 9 pm, I was tired and my back was killing me. I took a Tylenol and went to bed. I woke up just before 1 am, May 3rd, to go potty. (I swear the child used my bladder as a bed.) There was a generous amount of blood, and my husband decided to check on me after I was taking so long. He felt the need to Google the symptom and Google suggested going to the ER that a miscarriage was likely taking place. We both did not speak what we knew was happening…I was trying to keep my emotions together. I was scared, in shock, and devastated that I was losing the baby after “a perfect pregnancy”. I’m all checked in to the ER, a L&D nurse got me, and she sends for my OB medical records. I’m asked tons of pregnancy questions, hooked up to monitors, given an IV with antibiotics (I didn’t want), and told to stay in bed. Then I am physically checked for labor progress signs…another surprise!…I am 5cm dilated. Half way through labor! I was also asked if I wanted an epidural, which I refused. The L&D nurse came back with my records and asked for my birth plan. She was an amazing nurse and helped me re-write my natural birth plan since I was unprepared, being a month away from my June 2nd due date. She explained to me the due date on my record was different. It was changed to May 26th; however, we were never told.
I labor all night until 7:30 am. My OB came in and decided to break my water. I was 10cm dilated and 100% effaced. He broke my water and left! He told me that it would be another 45 minutes before I needed to push. Within 5 minutes, I felt the need to push. Actually, my body took over and began pushing on it’s own. The nurses were scrambling to get the doctor back. Also, by this point, I haven’t had food or water for nearly 7.5 hours. I am starving and weak. Finally the OB came back just in time to put gloves and a smock on to catch my daughter. Then, he began asking a nurse if he had a 9 am appointment. (He did, it was me, although he didn’t know that.) He told her to cancel “whatever appointment it was and move the 10 am C-section to 9am”. He was going to cancel my 9 am appointment anyway!! Suddenly, I began feeling faint. Voices began to sound like they were under water, my vision became blurry and tunneled. The nurse took my daughter from me and I don’t have much memory of what happened next. According to my husband the OB was pulling on my placenta (a big no no!), I gushed blood, and turned pale white. They tried to ask me for permission to give me Pitocin; however, I was unresponsive. My husband gave permission and the nurse was told to prep for a blood transfusion. Fortunately, the Pitocin shot worked and I didn’t need the transfusion.
That is my traumatic birth story. If I were able to choose to have maternal care under a midwife, I probably would have had a more accurate due date. I would have met with the midwife each and every appointment. I would have been able to walk around during labor to naturally break my water. I could have completely avoided hemorrhaging all together by being allowed to naturally birth the placenta. These are a number of “ifs”; however, these are common practices among midwifery care. I do know I would have had a less stressful delivery and enjoyed my birthing experience. This is why I support the choice of midwifery care.