Medically-minded midwives

18 April 2010 at 11:56 am 2 comments

So, I’ve written before about medically-minded midwives, but in talking with a friend recently, I heard about her experience with possibly the most medically-minded midwifery group ever.

My friend has a four-year-old child, born in a hospital with midwives, and is now pregnant again. “Hey, you had a homebirth, didn’t you?” she said to me, when we were discussing her upcoming birth. “I would have LOVED to have had one, but it just wouldn’t have been possible for me.”

I knew what was coming, so I tried to look neutral and non-committal. My friend went on to say that her water “never” broke and the midwife “had” to break it for her after 4 hours of labor (mine broke after 5 hours of hard labor, and you can read Henci Goer on the myth of the necessity for artificially rupturing membranes). Also, she “never” dilated beyond a 4 until they gave her Pitocin (I never had internal exams, which often cause infections, nor did my midwife give me numbers like that, which are often unhelpful to women). Also, the baby’s heartrate wasn’t looking right during pushing, and the baby had the cord around its neck when born (midwives can usually suggest another position for pushing that puts less stress on the baby and regulates the heartrate, and about a quarter of babies are born with the cord around their neck, which usually does not pose a problem). And so on, and so on. . . 

It was a tightrope-walk of a conversation for me, as I tried to point out what the research says about risk and safety and best practices while not pointing any particular fingers. My goal, of course, wasn’t to make my friend feel bad about the birth she did have (with IV narcotics, Pit, continuous fetal monitoring, frequent internal exams, AROM, lack of changing positions, and newborn baby whisked off to the NICU “as a precaution” because of the low heartrate after contractions) but rather knowledgeable and empowered about her upcoming birth.

But yeah, whoa. . . those are clearly some medically-minded midwives!



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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Liz  |  18 April 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I have a friend who saw a midwife at an OB practice. The friend was told that her pelvis was probably too small for the baby. Nonetheless she was induced around the EDD and allowed to labor for a few hours before a c/s was deemed necessary.

    Sadly, I think the term “midwife” has no longer means much.

  • 2. Jessica Montalino  |  18 April 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I had a hard, hard labor at home with wonderful home birth midwives. My baby was four weeks early and all was healthy and well with him with the exception of a poor latch (a longer story or another day). I believe that had I been in a hospital (even with a CNM) things would have been radically different (for a variety of reasons, but for simplicity I will say because of medical culture and policy). At home I was able to move around and a variety of positions, I don’t think I was in the same one for more than 10 minutes at a time, if that. All the while his heart rate was great, I believe due to the way in which I was guided to birth. I can speculate (especially after speaking with moms whose babies were also early who had highly medically managed births, but whose situations seem similar to mine) that had I arrived at the hospital four weeks early in labor, there would have been an air of urgency and quick to intervene with my birth, and in my panicked state it would have only intensified my fears. Upon arriving at my house, my midwives eased my fears while keeping an extra close, but calm watch on our progress. It was a birth experience that was surprising, but empowering. I am forever grateful for the quality of care I received.


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