Prenatal care with a midwife follows a similar schedule of meetings (monthly, bi-weekly, weekly,) and involves some of the same testing that the OB performs. The major difference between an OB and a midwife is the length and intimacy of the visits. A close friend of mine (we’ll call her Audrey) who is planning a homebirth and employs a midwife told me that she feels much more comfortable with her midwife when compared to her OB. At 30 weeks pregnant, Audrey switched to a midwife when she decided to have a homebirth. Even if you are planning on delivering in a hospital you can still see a midwife, and many certified nurse midwives are associated with OB/GYN practices. Audrey said that she always felt like just another number in the OB office, and that she didn’t feel like she could ask questions, or that when she did, she was treated as if she shouldn’t be asking questions. In choosing a midwife, it is important to check for credentials which will indicate levels of education and experience. The best way to find a midwife is ask for recommendations from other women. You can also visit this site where you can type in your location and find locations that have a midwife on staff.
Audrey goes to her midwife’s home office and spends about an hour at each visit. She still has her blood pressure, urine, and weight checked, but it is in an intimate and relaxed setting, and she doesn’t feel like just another patient. They chat about how Audrey is feeling, any new thoughts or emotions associated with her experience thus far and there is an opportunity to ask as many questions as she has. She also said that the midwife carefully explains all of the risks, benefits, and reasons for various tests so that she can make an informed choice about the necessity of the test. The midwife encourages Audrey’s husband to be involved so that he may better understand the process of pregnancy and how Audrey is coping with it. Since switching to a midwife, Audrey says the process of pregnancy has been much more enjoyable and less stressful due to the intimacy and relaxed tone with the midwife.
Midwives will utilize the same tests as an OB; however, they tend to use the tests as reactive rather than proactive measures. This is not to be misinterpreted as midwives being irresponsible by not testing unless necessary, it is simply that many midwives feel that some tests are not necessary to ensure the health of mother and baby. For example, a healthy mom experiencing no complications in pregnancy may chose to decline glucose testing in the absence of gestational diabetes risk factors. Most OB’s will insist, (though you have the right to decline testing and treatment) but most midwives who are confident in your overall health will not insist you take a test unless there are risk factors or history that suggest tests would be beneficial.
If at any point in your pregnancy (even right before or after your due date), you are not happy with your care provider, SWITCH! You have the right to the care you believe you deserve and you have every right to switch providers at any time. If you are considering switching providers, look for the next article titled “Switching Providers” for tips on how to successfully switch.
Go back to: An Introduction to Birth in the Hospital
Go ahead to: Step #2: Establishing Support
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