10 reasons why I enjoyed receiving my prenatal care from my midwife
“Hey Julia, how are you and your belly? So do you know what you’re having?” Internally I go as usually when this question arises, and it arises often: “I guess I’m having a human and I’ll do my best to hold the space for this human to keep the wholeness he or she comes with”.
The question comes from my dear granny. She’ s a mother of 4 grown ups, a grandma of 6 plus a great-grandmother. I always love chatting with her about life and changes generally, she’s just got the overview.
“Well grandma, my belly is great, I feel the baby daily and I’m doing really good, I’m healthy and have little else to ask for.” As for the sex of the baby I chose to now do what I always felt when being pregnant with Lea. Stepping out of the routine, and into “Listening”. “How was it with your first pregnancy, how was prenatal care 50 years ago?”, I ask.
“Oh you know Julia, with your auntie I never went to the doctor, there was a midwife just across from us, but also her I’ve only seen 2 or 3 times before delivery. When she asked me where and how I want to give birth and said I want to go to the local house in town that they use for birth, she told me it would be wise to at least speak with the doctor that would accompany the midwife during the birth… that was 4 weeks prior to delivery.”
I stand and let the words sink. Just 50 years ago the whole story around birth was so different and within one generation so many things changed. Exactly how Debra Pascali Bornaro said during the Doula training in Bali: “just go and speak with your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, see what you find in their stories, it hasn’t been too long ago when birth was a natural event in the every day life of families before it became a medical event being relocalised into doctors offices and hospitals.”
So here I go inquiring into my “Herstory” with my granny. And she goes on: “And you see Julia, it was the same with your mother, she was born in town, after a pregnancy that was just as my every day life. And then your other auntie there was prenatal care introduced, this test and that test and please come back in 4 weeks, ultrasound, and blood tests and I don’t know what else. I didn’t even question, even though my first two pregnancies where so different…”
Listening to reality changing within a small time window of a woman’s lifetime I come back to myself. My first pregnancy I went to get “confirmation” at week 6 and marvelled over the screen showing a heart beat. Being asked to come back in a certain amount of time, I followed and only 4 weeks later I was back. Charts are being filled, data is being fed into the computer, blood is being taken, vaginal discharge tested. While all of that seemed very important to them and everything was going smoothly and after procedure,I felt there was something important missing. Back then I couldn’t name it, I didn’t really know, couldn’t grasp it, until much later. After week 9 my prenatal care got a bit “messy” anyway, as it was being done by several different doctors and gynaecologists in in different countries like Dubai and Thailand as we were travelling.
I learned that Dubai was doing any procedure possible for many reasons that I didn’t even want to go into and I also learned that I actually have a choice and can say: I don’t want this test or that procedure. That was new! I Thailand I learned that I feel very odd having prenatal care being done in a huge hospital. It just didn’t feel right being in that sort of environment even if everyone was kind and professional. So I decided to just not have anything being done anymore from week 25 on as I felt super healthy and happy and everything was fine up until then anyway. Funny to have spent at least 1000€ up until then on the having medical confirmation on my feeling.
However it wasn't until I met my Doula and my midwife in Greece that I REALLY get taken care of. I mean taken care of in terms of my million question I had and them so lovingly including the baby into the conversation and …
Here are my 10 reasons why I’m just so in love with my prenatal care from my midwife and / or doula.
I do like to emphasise that it does make a lot of sense to spend time and effort to find a good match as there are little things in life which are more intimate and personal than a pregnancy and delivery. It’s good to face that early and set yourself up for a good fit in the moment and when you strip it all, from clothes, to emotions…
1.) Prenatal care from a midwife or Doula is done (at least that’s the case for some midwifes in Germany) in a home environment. Either in your own home or in the “office” of a midwife which are usually just as cozy, personal and non sterile like your home and just like… LIFE.
2.) It feels like a meeting between two woman, not a health professional and a patient. It’s a meeting at eye level, with a warm smile, a hand shake and maybe even a tea and a chat.
3.) The Baby is always part of the meeting, he/she is being greeted, touched, massaged, listened to.
4.) I get asked questions that can be answered by feeling and experience, which don’t require a machine and I get to ask questions in a relaxed manner. No time pressure, no professional sterile environment, a chat from a woman to a woman. Stories, jokes, wondering questions about this magic time.
5.) Most of the “tests” I can do myself, like to wee over a test stick and compare the colours with the “norm”, or testing the vaginal milieu myself so I don’t even need a vaginal exam. When my midwife feels for the size and position of the uterus she explains what she’s doing so I can do it for myself, as well as I learn how to note it in my “mother pass”. When it comes to listening to the heart beat she asks: “Do you feel the baby kick and move daily?”
6.) “Wait” at home instead of in a clinic or doctors office. My midwife does come to my house which is amazing in the sense that I can be in my home environment (which is very suitable when planing for a home birth any). And it make my logistics with having my office at home and taking care of our daughter easier to not have to run across town and sit in a waiting room while my work is piling at home.
7.) My emotional state and thoughts are being met. It’s not a bare collection of data and numbers, a significant a mount of time and focus is being put on how I feel in my body, mind and what my thoughts are circling around. Emotional swings, fears, doubts can weigh super heavy when not being met with empathy and care. I now know what I’ve been missing in my first pregnancy: To create this space for myself to meet with other woman, midwifes, mothers to share and address these topics.
8.) My family has a place in this. While in the medical world the mother is the “patient” with the patient ID and therefor is in the focus of it all. Now I experience my whole family being part of the picture. My daughter might double check the colours after testing the urine and my husband may feel the size and position of the uterus under the instructions of the midwife. Everyone’s involved, has a job and gathers wisdom about what’s going on the secret box of mothers tummy.
9.) “When would you like to see me again?” my midwife asks. And again: its me who’s in charge. I have to think, I have to feel, I have to speak up for what I need. After my big learnings in my first delivery I came to realise how important it is to stay on top of myself and make choices regarding my body, my needs, my baby. Empowered and personalised pregnancy, birth and motherhood is not about waiting for providers delivery, but to get clarity on topics, speak up and ask for what one needs according to their beliefs and desires.
10.) I’m always left with a feeling of empowerment. That I have all the tools, that my body knows what to do, that the natural intelligence of a woman’s body knows how to be pregnant and ho to give birth and that everything is just fine and I can relax.
I’m certainly not saying all of this can’t be met by a Gynaecologist or hospital staff. I’m sure these awesome people are out there. I just realise day by day how our health care system is a business operating on the laws of business: efficiency, security, cost-benefit-ratio. Having a baby for me is on the other end of the scale, it’s more in the realm of rainbows and unicorns. And while everyone who’d like to remain in the efficiency and safety zone has my full permission to do so I’d like to empower everyone who seems to lacking something in their care they can’t quite name to stand up, open their eyes and look out for the right support or additional support. There has never been so much choice on this planet. It’s on us now to wake up, take charge of our lives and create the reality we desire and deserve.
I also get to learn more and more to distinguish in our vast world of choice. I’m not looking so much for vegetables anymore in a butcher’s store and so I can appreciate that everyone is a master of their field. That when I’d like to have the organs of my baby fine screened because it is necessary for me then I go to the professional for that service. When I’d like to work on prenatal bonding, I look out for a professional on that field. I come to a place of appreciation and allow myself to choose what’s right in each moment.
Dear big bellied woman out there. Go ahead and choose what’s right for you and most importantly:
Don’t be shy to ask for what you need and don’t be shy to look out for another care provider or additional care if your needs are not being met.
You’re important, so is your baby. And you’re worthy to be listened to with love and care!