Here is the stereotype:
Back in the old days, women used midwives and almost always gave birth at home (true). Then modern medicine came along in the 20th century and doctors provided a supposedly healthier way of giving birth in hospitals. Now we are in the 21st century and only crazy hippies would use a midwife so they could give birth at home without medical support. THIS IS SO WRONG! GET THIS OUT OF YOUR HEAD NOW!
Don't get too comfy with your OB.
One of the most common things that I hear from women is that they love their pre-pregnancy OBGYN so they stick with that care provider because they feel comfortable. Or they know one friend who just gave birth with an OB so they use that doctor. Although this makes sense to these moms, I challenge all of you pregnant moms to look at the data and hear the birth stories of women on both sides of the caregiving spectrum.
Lower your chances of a cesarean by using a midwife!
The World Health Organization says that the cesarean rate should not be higher than 10-15% while most hospitals with OBs in my area are close to 40%. The national U.S. cesarean section rate was 4.5% and near this optimal range in 1965 when it was first measured (Taffel et al. 1987). Here is a link with some reasons why the cesarean levels have risen so drastically. Here is a link where a study showed midwives having a 3-4% cesarean rate with women of a normal health.
There are also a lot of statistics that any sort of medication (even painkillers like an epidural) during labor greatly increases the mother's chance of having a cesarean and that the medication is transferred to the baby. These medications also cause the women's body to not react as it normally would and often causes a snowball effect of needing more intervention. The movie The Business of Being Born is a great visual example of this. It is a must see movie for pregnancy couples. I forced my husband to watch it and he was so thankful at the end of the movie that he had watched it!
If you are curious what your state's cesarean rate is, go to www.cesareanrates.com. The site also lists your state's hospitals that allow vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Midwives and doctors can do VBAC deliveries but not all doctors are trained and practiced in doing them so you may need to do some research if that is the route that you want to take.
What is a midwife?
Midwives are trained nurses that have furthered their education in midwifery. They deliver babies in hospitals, specialized birthing centers with medical backup or at your home (known as a "home birth") with a backup plan to transfer you to a hospital if needed. Midwives listen to your body and if your body shows signs of trouble then they get you the medical help that you need. Midwives are also more versed with natural birthing positions, and working with the woman's specific body to allow for the baby to come naturally and with minimal discomfort. There are many great reads about midwives including Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. This is a must read for all pregnant moms.
I have had one birth with an OB and one birth with a midwife. My first birth was with an OB because the hospital was "convenient", rated the #1 maternity ward in NYC yet only had OBs. In hindsight those were the worst reasons to choose an OB. By the time in my pregnancy that I realized my decision, I was too nervous to change caregivers (again, not a great reason). Thankfully I had a doula who was fantastic and was the only reason why I was able to have the birth that I wanted. My second birth was with a midwife. I fell in love with my midwife at first meeting. She truly cared and understood how my body was working. She perfectly predicted every detail about how my birth would be and made it incredible. There was no question in my mind that my third birth would be with a midwife. This time I am with a practice of midwives in a new state and I am extremely happy with their level of care and involvement.
I will be writing more about doulas and sharing birth stories in the coming weeks so keep following and thank you for all the great support that I have been receiving for this blog!