In part one of this series, I discussed the childbirth of my firstborn and how it colored my postpartum experience. It has also played a significant role in what I’m doing the second time around during pregnancy and in preparation for childbirth.
With my first pregnancy, I saw a large OB/GYN practice, where I rotated through the doctors since I usually saw a nurse practitioner. I loved many of the doctors that I was seen by and, from a physical perspective, never doubted their ability to care for me through my pregnancy or labor. While I did get a sense that they weren’t 100% on board with my hopes to go as unmedicated as possible for as long as possible, I felt confident.
However, knowing what I know today about how labor and delivery played out and how that lack of full support played a heavy hand in my overall experience, I wasn’t as confident as my second pregnancy progressed. I sensed those same feelings over again. At 28 weeks pregnant with my second, I switched providers and started seeing a small midwifery practice that had recently joined another local hospital.
OB/GYN vs. Midwife
The biggest difference between an OB/GYN and a midwife is the amount of education and the extent of care that they’re able to provide. Obstetricians have about double the education and are prepared to provide full care for regular and high-risk prenatal and childbirth circumstances. On the other hand, Certified Nurse Midwife’s see pregnancy and childbirth as a normal, natural process and are trained as such. This means high-risk pregnancies and labors that become high-risk would not be a good fit.
My personal experience with a midwife versus my OB/GYN office thus far has been the structure and type of care received. While the appointment frequency and same routine medical checks are performed to gauge my physical well-being: weight, blood pressure, heart rate, belly measurement, fetal monitoring, urine sample, etc., there is an additional focus on the emotional and mental health aspects as well. This is something that I’ve felt to be important as I approach my due date and know it will be even more important as I enter the “fourth trimester” – postpartum.
Your Body. Your Experience. Your Decision.
I was a little nervous about changing providers so late in the game and leave a familiar set-up that I had prior experience with. However, what I knew about my previous experience was that I didn’t want it to be my experience again, and I was looking for something that fit and supported my hopes for my second childbirth. At my first appointment with the midwife, she told me that whether I wanted to go completely unmedicated or if I wanted an epidural, it didn’t matter to her. She just wanted to support me in whatever path I chose. I felt a weight lift that I didn’t fully realize was previously there. To be supported and heard is so important when it comes to something as monumental as the birth of a child.
I hope that for every woman. Regardless of what you feel to be true to you when it comes to childbirth, I hope you feel empowered to make decisions that support your heart, your body, your mind and, however you wish to get to the finish line: holding your healthy baby.
What Other Lanes Am I Driving Down?
- Exercise: Being regularly active is essential for me to reduce stress and get a dose of energy. During my first pregnancy, I didn’t consistently exercise. This time around, I’ve been staying active with the Expecting and Empowered program and as many dog walks as the weather has allowed for. I also took a stab at my first group exercise class with a Fit4Mom session explicitly geared for moms-to-be and loved it (10/10 would recommend to local expecting mamas!).
- Reading Material: I’ve had my nose in several books that I’ve read in their entirety or just sections of, including Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth; Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way; Mindful Birthing; Birthing a Better Way; and Giving Birth with Confidence. One of the more interesting reads has been a recommendation from my midwife: The Postnatal Depletion Cure. Much of the focus is on postpartum care and how nutrition and hormones play a role in how we do or do not experience things like mom-brain, baby blues, postpartum anxiety or depression, etc.
- Chiropractic Care: A chiropractor might seem like a non-option for pregnant women, but some chiropractors specialize in prenatal care. Chiropractic care during pregnancy can help with alignment and make for a more effective labor. Sign me up!
Stay tuned to see how these things play out for me on game day and what I would or wouldn’t do again in Part 3.