Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: From OB to Midwife

Now that you know how I feel about planned home birth, let me tell you a little bit about our decision process and some of the steps we took to prepare for the adventure.

Gary and I shared an intuitive leaning toward natural birth practices before we conceived a child and started researching. When I found out I was pregnant, I automatically called my uncle, who is also my OB/GYN.  At our first visit, I broached the subject of home birth. At that time I was completely unaware of the divisive crevasse between hospital vs. home birth mentalities; obstetrics vs. midwifery. I naively thought that all birth professionals worked together toward the end of happy mothers with healthy babies exercising their right to experience birth in the way that is most comfortable to them. I've since discovered a great deal about the intriguing history and modern implementation of birth practices around the world.

My Uncle promptly discouraged me from the idea, with tact and professionalism. The gist of his main line of reasoning was that as a first-time mother, I would have no idea what to expect and should experience childbirth the "usual" way before trying something outside the box. Also (this will reveal the extent of my naïveté) I learned that he could not attend to a birth at home. Being the obvious rookie in the room, I accepted his advice and made my next appointment.
A couple of months later I was reading Birthing from Within by Pam England on an airplane headed for Waco, Texas.  Above the clouds, I read the chapter the author almost chose not to include about home birth (because she did not want her book to be viewed as advocating for home birth specifically).  The words and the ideas resonated in my so deeply that I knew. While waiting for my baggage to cycle past, I called Gary and told him that I had decided that I wanted to give birth at home after all. He wanted to know why I had decided and if I was really sure, then we agreed that we would talk about it more when I returned home.

The two big steps which came next were finding a midwife and notifying my doctor.

1) Finding a midwife. This wasn't too difficult, because Google and a few other resources only produced a small handful of midwifery practices that attend home births. Of these, only two of them had Certified Nurse Midwives in the group, and our research lead us to feel most confident having a CNM because of their higher education and more extensive experience. We interviewed these two sets of midwives, and immediately felt a more pleasant connection with Wendy from Vivante. Our conviction compelled us to choose her even over the group that offered in-home prenatal care! (Of course, I've always wondered if perhaps they weren't as welcoming to us because they weren't keen on the idea of driving 45 minutes from their office for my check-ups.)

2) Notifying my doctor. This one was more difficult because I love and respect my uncle so much. The more I expanded my knowledge of the birth culture divide, the more I realized how difficult the announcement would be. I decided that the best way to speak to my uncle was in his own language. So I gathered links to several recent studies regarding the safety and outcomes of planned home births published in esteemed medical journals.  I believe that I confirmed my decision to Uncle over the phone, then emailed him links to the studies, additional resources, and my own testimony of my own reasoning.  I was surprised and elated when he phoned me (this man is very busy and we don't really have a talk-on-the-phone kind of relationship) to thank me for sharing the information. He said that it opened his mind to understand the practice of home birth and made him more accepting of my decision. I know he does not now regard home birth as a better or even equal alternative, but at least he gave me his blessing and assured me that he would be praying for a successful outcome.

With those barriers out of the way, we spent the next several months having the (mostly) usual prenatal care, acquiring the usual newborn supplies, and gathering some not-so-usual provisions in preparation for D-day (Delivery, not Doom).  The midwives provided an entire folder of resource materials, inside of which is the official "Homebirth Handbook." It contains a list of supplies to have assembled in advance, many of which we were able to order online in a kit. We took a childbirth preparation class modeled after the Birthing from Within book that was integral in my decision to choose to give birth at home. And I created a birth project during the final month or so of my pregnancy, the defects of which left us with some unusual consequences.

To be continued tomorrow...

1 comment:

Bridget said...

Again, so interesting.

And if the project you're referring to involved tying something, then oh man, I still giggle about that.


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