A Woman's Right to Choose

I've been thinking about midwives a lot this week. I just finished a great book about it. There has been some recent controversy in the news about homebirths and midwifery practice in general. There is a new documentary out about the Business of Being Born - I encourage you to follow the link and just WATCH THE TRAILER. But what has jolted my mind the most is that I just learned that the midwife who delivered our daughter no longer has a place to deliver babies. Hospital after hospital dropped their contracts with midwives due to pressure from OB/GYN's over the last decade, and the only hospital that allowed for midwife care in our entire county just shut it's doors. You can read about it, and my own midwife's fight, here.

This is confusing to me on many levels. First, I can't believe that this hospital was lacking for patients. It was an amazing place that emphasized personal care and a customized birthing experience. Why it wasn't jam packed with informed mothers is a mystery to me. But second, I am most surprised that midwifery care seems to be a dying art. I know that it's not for everyone, but I loved the personal attention of my midwife. My midwife was at the hospital when I arrived, and stayed through the entire labor, and then coached me on how to breastfeed. What OB would do that? Because she had priveledges, I didn't have to be at the whim of whatever nurse happened to be on staff. I didn't have to worry about a shift change in the middle of my labor, or a crabby nurse or a random doctor on call. The same woman who followed my entire pregnancy was there to deliver my baby. She knew all of my preferences, and all of my concerns. She knew my family by name. She let me lead. She called for an epidural when things stalled out and I wanted to sleep, and didn't give me any hassle about whatever choices I made. And after the birth, she must have asked me 10 times if I had any feelings about the birth that I wanted to talk about. AMAZING.

I am feeling riled up about midwives becoming extinct. I think it is indicative of many problems in the healthcare system right now, and I think it has more to do with money and power, and less to do with best practice. After all, midwives have been proven, in research study after study, to have as good or better outcomes (for example, lower C-section rates, lower infant-mortality rates) than physicians. In a country that seems obsessed with the woman's right to choose, shouldn't those of us who choose life be granted the option of choosing how to bring that life into the world? And shouldn't we be allowed to deliver in a hospital, in case we need more medical intervention (like India did), and not be forced to pay out-of-pocket at a birth center in a strip mall?

In case you live in Orange County and you value birthing options for women, check out Project Cabo. If you live somewhere else, perhaps it's time to look into what birthing options are available to women in your area. I think it might be time for us to raise our voices for our right to choose a midwife!


  1. Amen!

    One of my closest friends is training to be a midwife but it's doubtful if she'll be able to practice by the time her training is complete. We're so backwards in so many ways, aren't we?

  2. This surprises me. When I gave birth in CA (Bay Area), Kaiser had very few OBs on staff to do routine deliveries. It was almost all midwives.

    And now that I'm back in the Midwest, it seems most hospitals have at least as many midwives on staff as OB/GYNs.

    So my experience has been seeing a growth of midwives, not a decline. But of course, that's just one person's story.

  3. Kelly - yes, that is true of Kaiser here as well. I think it is the only place where midwives are still employed, so you would have to be a Kaiser member to use them. But from what I have heard, it is a different brand of midwivery. It's more like seeing a Physician's Assistant - the patients don't see the same midwife for each appointment or get to choose who delivers them, and it is more of a medical model (turn and burn, pit drip, get that baby out before dinner, etc). The midwives employed by Kaiser in OC have a terrible reputation amongst the more traditional midwives. But, who knows? I would love to hear if others have had a good experience with a midwife employed by a medical group.

  4. My mid wife was amazing! I had a natural birth with my first child, but with an OB, and then a natural birth with #2 with a midwife. -Night and day experiences! With #1, the doctor did not show up in time (in spite of nurses calling him for 30 minutes while I was 10 centimeters). They were seriously holding my child in! Seriously! Finally, they pulled a rookie ER doctor in to deliver the baby. With Baby #2, my midwife met me at the hospital, checked me in, had candles lit and massage oils that she immediately began to massage into my the pains in my back. She was AMAZING. She led Andrew and I through the whole birth process. I felt so confident and in control of the pain and the birth experience with her by my side!

    I cannot believe that we live in a culture that does not value this more!

  5. I just want to point out that midwives go way beyond pregnancy. They can do all of the typical OBGYN care: pap smears, birth control, hormone testings, etc. I see mine like I would a primary care physician, because I love the personalized attention. And pregnant women who want an epidural can still benefit from a midwives care.


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