We, mostly Heidi, decided early on to use a midwife for birth instead of an doctor. Partly because right before Heidi became pregnant, her insurance changed and she needed to switch doctors, and partly because we had caught a story here and there about using a midwife for birth instead of a traditional doctor.
The term first conjured images of medieval times to my mind. Then I read up and became less ignorant about the subject. My understanding is basically you approach birth with the thought that the body will take care of itself whereas with a doctor, you approach it more from the idea that birth needs constant maintenance and intervention.
Using a midwife has been very pleasant so far. A team of midwifes work out of the hosptial, OHSU (wikipedia). We don’t see the same one each time, but they are very pleasant and during the visit I’m constantly surprised at how genuinely interested they seem to be in the experience of being pregnant. Asking Heidi tons of questions and spending quite a bit of time during the appointment with you in contrast to a doctor’s visit where they rush in and rush out.
That’s been my experience so far anyway.
To this point, I’ve imagined in my mind the actual birth. Heidi would be on the hospital bed, feet in the stirrups, doctor hovering over screaming push. When I came to think on it, I mentioned to Heidi that this seems silly, didn’t cavewomen like squat or something and let gravity help?
Then we watched this movie, the Business of Being Born, just this last week based on the recommendation of some friends. (Netflix)
And I got to see babies being born this time for real and not in a movie.
Here’s some interesting things I saw:
- So it looks like midwives prefer you to give birth standing/squatting, sometimes in water.
- There’s a cocktail of hormones that get released at birth bonding the mother and infant – a biological process.
- Doctor-based intervention usually starts with shot to induce labor (PIT – something), then a shot to numb the pain (the spinal one), which relaxes the woman so they give more of the first shot to re-induce labor, then back to the shot to numb the pain and back and forth and on and on into a vicious cycle… which leads to…
- 1 in 3 babies, in the U.S. today are caesarian section births.
- Physician convenience is a leading cause of caesarian section – a large number of babies are born at 4PM (“it’s getting late time to go home”) and 10PM (“it’s getting late, I need to go to bed”).
- Hooking up to an intravenous, IV, allows easier administration of the shots mentioned above. In a typical hospital pregnancy you are hooked up first thing thereby making it less of an obstacle when later proposed.
It’s worth a watch even from a historical perspective just to see how births in the US have evolved over the past 100 years.
Update (2010.08.18): Just heard from the midwife today at Heidi's appointment that The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published an article back on 2010.07.21 that states:
The cesarean delivery rate in the US increased dramatically over the past four decades, from 5% in 1970 to over 31% in 2007.
So from 1 in 20 to 1 in 3 over 40 years. Link to the article.