My obstetrical care during pregnancy was provided by a team of midwives. I loved it – my experience was, from start to finish, nothing short of amazing. My birth didn’t go as I imagined but my care team (and my husband, of course) made it an excellent experience anyways.
Now, before I get into why I loved midwifery care, I want to say that choosing an obstetrical/birth care provider is a very personal choice. Just because I loved midwives, doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to be the “best” provider for everyone. In terms of what I was looking for, they met (and exceeded) my expectations. Before choosing a provider for your obstetrical care, make a list (even just a mental one) of things you want from your prenatal, birth, and postpartum experience. Do you research on providers – first of all, what/who is available where you are located. Once you know that, figure out how each provider manages things like appointments, follow-ups, tests, and more. Determine how involved you want your provider to be with your care – how easy they are to contact. Do you want to give birth at home (note: I can only speak to this in Ontario, I know things are quite different in the US)? You need to find a provider that can support that option safely. There will be so many factors involved in your decision, but take your time and think. Then, once you know what you want, make the best decision for yourself and your needs.
All that being said – this is why I, personally, loved my midwifery care experience. Keep in mind that I am in Ontario – where midwives are regulated. This is not the case everywhere and that is important to note as some things I mention won’t necessarily apply elsewhere.
*Disclaimer: This blog is intended for informational purposes only. The information on this blog should not be used as a substitute to medical advice or medical treatment. As always, your Primary Care Provider, a doctor, or another health professional is your best resource for specific questions and medical advice. If you believe you or a loved one are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911.*
They cared for me right from the beginning.
Obstetrical care is often (not always, but often) covered by your family physician for a certain period of time, before you are transferred into the care of an OBGYN (sometime around or after the anatomy scan). Alternatively, you may continue to see your FP for your entire pregnancy and they may deliver your baby!
Midwifery care is similar to FP care in that you see them from the beginning. I began seeing my midwives at ~8 weeks gestation. I had known I was pregnant since just about 5 weeks, called them around 6 weeks and booked my first appointment for 8 weeks. I saw my FP once in that time – just to have a blood test done to confirm pregnancy.
I loved that I got to have such a prolonged relationship with my midwives. Not that there is anything wrong with seeing my FP – I would have happily done that until they saw me, but it was nice to start off with them right away. There isn’t necessarily much to do early on – visits are still on the same schedule as with an OB (monthly until 28 weeks, then biweekly until 36 weeks, then weekly until delivery), but it was nice to meet them and get the relationship started. I think this is really important in building trust – which I always say is SO important in any patient-provider relationship.
If it takes you time to develop a good relationship with a provider (and there is nothing wrong with wanting and/or needing time to do that), then this is a great perk. If your FP does obstetrics – then that would also be a great option since you’re already familiar and hopefully comfortable with them. Not to say that you can’t still develop a trusting and comfortable relationship with an OB because you absolutely can – but some people need extra time or some extra TLC if you will, and midwifery (as well as FP obstetric care) can provide this.
And you don’t need to see an OB in addition to a midwife! A midwife would be your primary care provider for pregnancy (you would still need to see your FP or a GP for anything non-pregnancy related). Midwives in Ontario can order ultrasounds and bloodwork, and will discuss results with you at your appointments. They can also order some pregnancy-related drugs. All the same testing and prenatal care that is provided by OBGYNs or FPs can be provided by midwives in Ontario.
Note: midwives care for low risk or “normal” pregnancies – this is most births, but not all. If you are considered a high risk pregnancy, then your care is best addressed by an OBGYN, depending on your situation. Have the conversation with your FP if needed, to determine what the best path for you is. If a transfer of care is needed during midwifery care, they may still be able to continue on in a supportive role – check out the newest episodes of the podcast this weekend for more on this!
They are always available.
You go to your first appointment with your midwife team and you’re given a few pieces of information – one being their pager information. Call anytime in this, this, and this scenario. Or if you just feel as if something is “off”.
Surprise! Midwives are actually available 24/7. This isn’t a perk you should abuse and there are guidelines they would like you to follow in regards to paging, however it is a comforting thing to know that *if* anything were to happen, they could be contacted quite easily.
I personally used the pager twice – the day my water broke and one other time (that my memory seems to have suppressed because I didn’t mention this in the podcast) when I was in a car accident at 28 weeks pregnant. I was ok but it was such a relief to call, have someone call me right back, and then be assessed within the next couple hours after my accident. I didn’t have to go to the ER, or leave a voicemail that may never be returned. I met a midwife from my team at the hospital, got checked right into the L&D assessment unit and was in and out in under an hour.
For someone who has some health anxiety, this made a huge difference for me. I was already in a stressful situation having been in a car accident, to not have to be stressed about getting a hold of my care providers and being assessed was a dream.
Their services are covered by the provincial health plan (OHIP).
Yep, that’s right. When I told people I knew that I was receiving midwifery care for my pregnancy, a surprising number of people didn’t know that it was covered by OHIP.
So I received excellent, 24/7 available, midwifery care and I didn’t have to pay out of pocket for this. What a relief! We are pretty lucky in Ontario that all our options for obstetrical care are covered by the plan. I just found that a lot of people really didn’t know that midwives were covered, so this might be new and exciting information for someone who might have thought this option was out of reach for them due to financial constraints.
You have more options for birth locations.
I personally delivered in the hospital because this is what I wanted. However, midwives also do home births in Ontario – and it’s not the ‘sketchy’ style home birth you might have heard about on the internet. I implore you to look here, on the Association of Ontario Midwives website, and read more about home births by midwives in Ontario. They provide evidence-based support for the safety of Ontario home births (again – keep in mind, Ontario midwives are regulated + trained specifically in how to support and care for a low risk mother at home during birth; this might not be the case in other places).
So – you have the choice in Ontario, if you want it, of having either a hospital or home birth (or in some regions, even a birth centre birth).
On the podcast, Kim (former midwife) and I discuss how people are often surprised that midwives also deliver babies in the hospital – but Ontario midwives do have hospital privileges and in most areas, the majority of their deliveries are often hospital based.
Three words: Postpartum. Home. Visits.
I didn’t even realize when I initially pursued midwifery care that this was a thing, but once I found out I was like WOW, I really made the right decision!
That’s right – at 24 hrs after my birth, I did not have to put on real human being clothes and a bra and try and look half decent to go into a doctors office. My midwife came to our house, and assessed both Maggie and I. It was the most relaxing “appointment” I’ve ever attended.
How do they weigh the baby, you ask? They bring a scale sling (very similar, my husband tells me, to what they use to weigh fish) in many cases – so cool. They also bring a ton of other supplies with them including a blood pressure cuff for mom, blood collection supplies, O2 monitor, stethoscope, and more.
They are like modern day Mary Poppins with their magic bag full of tricks, I tell ya.
Seriously though, this was easily one of my favourite parts of seeing midwives. We saw them at home for the first few visits, then at 14 days we went into clinic to see them and I felt much more like a human being by then, so it was good!
I can’t believe that postpartum home visits aren’t something that all obstetrical care providers offer (I know there are reasons why they don’t, but we should really be working towards a better system where that is an option – because I think it benefits the mental health/well-being of the mom, and it’s also just safer – especially if you have a flu season baby or well… a pandemic baby, home visits limit exposure!).
Best part: I went into my birth experience seeing a familiar face.
This was why I sought midwifery care initially – I love OBs, think many are absolutely fantastic. Know many who make their utmost effort to be present at all their births, but sometimes life happens (or other births happen) and it’s just not possible. I did not want to go to give birth and look down and see someone I had never met. Again, this was just a personal preference of mine. I wanted comfort. I wanted a familiar face.
This is exactly what I got with midwifery care – I had three midwives caring for me, met them all throughout my prenatal appointments, and had two of the three at my birth at different times. I felt more relaxed and comfortable because of this – and I had a fair amount of anxiety when I went into labour. I was nervous because it was something I had never done before. I think that is pretty understandable.
Feeling like that was definitely eased by looking around me, seeing my midwife and thinking “hey, I already know her and she knows me!”. I don’t know why that was so comforting, but it was. Yes, my husband was there as my support person and of course I was super comfortable with him being there – but it was nice to know my medical care provider was someone I was familiar with as well.
It was just nice, y’know? I can’t really explain it in words – but it was like that “ahhh..” moment. I felt relaxed and comfortable – and comfortable is the goal in labour and delivery. It is a physically uncomfortable experience in many ways, but we want to make it as comfortable for ourselves as we can. Our providers are there to help us achieve that goal.
For me, midwifery care provided me with many extra comforts – less anxiety, reliability, and familiarity. These might not be things that matter to you – and that’s okay. We all have different goals, different comforts. Think of these things when you’re choosing a birth provider and try to find someone that matches with what you’re looking for (or comes as close as possible). Best wishes with your births!
P.S. I have two new podcast episodes coming out this week – with a midwife! Don’t forget to tune in to learn more – as always, I’ll share when the episodes become available.