When I got pregnant with our first child, we decided to go the traditional way. I was nervous, scared and had many questions. My husband and I talked about it and decided it was, at that moment, the best choice.
I was curious about midwives and talked to ''hubby'' about maybe, going to see one, but he was too scared: What if something goes wrong?
So we kept the gynecologist and planned to give birth in a hospital in Montreal, Quebec. I did keep informed during my pregnancy, and even almost switched to a midwife, but I was still too nervous to make the switch.
The birth went well, I had two great nurses that took care of me during labor. It did not, however, go exactly the way I wanted. I was not totally satisfied with my experience. I had Pitocin, an epidural, and constant monitoring—none of which were in my birth plan, which no one read. I had wanted a more natural birth without Pitocin, unless needed as a last resort. I didn't want the epidural. I wanted to be able to move around, to use the ball, and to be in the bath. All options that were all available me at the hospital we chose. I did not want to be plugged into a monitor constantly and thus lose my freedom to move. I hated having to call the nurse every time I needed to go to the restroom.
I especially hated our afterbirth experience; it was awful, everything to wash a mother's confidence down the drain.
I wanted to breastfeed, nobody needed to convince me; they just had to help me!
Instead I got mixed information, mixed concerns and in the end, mixed emotions. I only wanted to be treated with respect. I especially wished to get out of there and be in my home, in my bed.
When I got pregnant with our second child, Things were going to be different.
I had a good talk with hubby and he told me: I trust you completely; I should have listened to you the first time. You're the one that gives birth, not me. You know much more on the subject and I trust your judgment.
The decision was easy I wanted a Midwife.
I contacted L'ordre des sages femme du Québec to ask: what should I do?
They replied quickly and suggested I call the closest birth center to my home, as fast as possible. Spots within a birth center are difficult to get your hands on, many women want midwife service, but unfortunately, not all will be able to have it. There are not enough birth centers in the province. In order to be able to get a registered midwife there needs to be an available spot in a birth center. Our new government promises 125 new jobs for midwives and 7 new birth centers, but that remains to be seen. Until then, women have to act fast and call birth centers as soon as they find out they are pregnant.
I called one birth center in Montreal; they put me on a waiting list and told me that I would receive a call if a spot became available.
Lucky for me, I only had to wait two weeks to get the call that told me there was spot for me.
I went to an information session given at the birth center; they gave us a tour, and answered all our questions. I was satisfied, and my husband as well. I knew I had made the best choice, for me.
I got assigned to my midwife team—in Quebec they work in teams of two. A principal midwife who follows the pregnancy, she was the one I would call first, should I have any concerns or emergencies. With a secondary midwife acting as backup to the team, allowing the primary midwife time off. They alternated weekends off, thus making someone available 24/7. Both midwives were amazing. While I knew my primary midwife better, I did meet with the secondary midwife a few times at prenatal visits. We broke the ice and, actually, formed a good bond as well.
My appointments lasted at least 30 minutes, except the first one, which was one hour. They always took the time to explain everything to me, how my body worked, and to tell me how the baby was doing. Told me all the tests that I could get and explained why it was there and what would or could happen if I chose to do it or not. I always had the choice to refuse though, and never would be judged based on acceptance or refusal of a procedure.
I was also empowered. I got to do some of the testing myself. I was in charge of checking my weight, looking for the signs of proteins in my urine, and also able to the test for Strep B by myself.
I learned a great deal. I felt so confident in my body and my abilities, I was not nervous at all with the upcoming birth, which I was set on experiencing naturally, as opposed to the first one.
I decided to give birth at the birth center.
When my water broke at home, I paged my secondary midwife, as she was on call, and she coached me over the phone on what to do. I stayed home for a little while to see how labor would progress, but after two hours of intense contractions, I was ready to leave.
When we arrived she was waiting for me and took us to our room—a beautiful bedroom with all the comforts we could need. The lights were dim, the only sounds were of another mother giving birth in the adjacent room.
My labor was pretty quick and easy, but most importantly; it was all done in an environment of calm and respect.
I was able to ease the pain of some of my contractions in the bath. I moved around freely within the room and the midwife suggested and helped me get into different positions to help things progress.
She called a backup when I was close to pushing.
And there we were, pushing a baby girl into the world.
I was so overjoyed by that experience.
As soon as the baby was born, a plate of fruit was set on the bedside table.
My baby was in my arms the whole time the midwife was stitching me up (only one stitch). She took the breast by herself, and we simply cuddled for one hour.
During the three hours after the birth, the midwife did all the exams and tests needed. Baby was administered the vitamin K shot (which I had chosen to give her), she was weighed in and all her vital signs were checked. The midwife also showed me the placenta, which I had asked to see. It was fascinating.
I was completely relaxed.
My midwife paid us a visit the next morning to examine us again. We left for home that afternoon. Even though it was sooner than my fist birth (where I had spent 36 hours, in the hospital, post birth), I had much more energy.
Two days later, the midwife visited us at home and came back three days later. I had follow up appointments, at the birth center, for six weeks after the birth. They did all the same tests my doctor had done during my first pregnancy, including a pap test. They also verified the baby's weight, reflexes, and general health.
My last appointment was bittersweet; I was going to deeply miss these women who had become so important in my life and the bond we had created.
Of course when I found out that baby number three was on the way (8 months later) my choice was obvious. I wanted a midwife, again. But his time I wanted a home birth, and what an adventure it was.