At 8 weeks pregnant with my second child, I walked out of the OBs office a bit lost. I had spent most of my life with an inherent trust in the current medical system. Over the previous two years, that had changed. I saw things that made me very uncomfortable and made me question what I had always believed. I no longer thought that the medical system held my best interest above their own. That first conversation was a demonstration as the OB stated what would be happening during my pregnancy as if it was his decision to make.
I have always been drawn to more natural medical care but I had never actually made the decision to choose that route. I decided to at least have a conversation with a midwife. I walked into that conversation with about 25 percent chance of choosing that route. I sat down with Siri and she just listened. She asked me about my previous birth experience, about my desires and expectations, about my partner and his thoughts, about my fears. She listened to me talk for an hour and a half and I left feeling like I had a voice. She allowed me to be heard and it wasn't until then that I realized I hadn’t experienced that type of care in the contemporary medical field.
Choosing midwifery care meant choosing to have a home birth. I have never been married to the idea of having a home birth but having my thoughts and ideas heard was so important to me that I knew I needed to choose it. Over the next 9 months of pregnancy, I got to know my providers. They got to know my family. They sat with me in my hour long appointments where I did most of the talking. I asked if I could do things differently based on research I had done. They were always willing to discuss their thoughts but made it very clear the decision was up to me. I truly felt like I was an active participant in my maternity care rather than being told what I should and shouldn’t do.
My second pregnancy felt much different. I felt so empowered to make my own decisions and free to do what felt right in my body. I felt more healthy at the end even though I have no idea how my weight I gained because my weight was never taken during pregnancy. My birth at home was better, and quicker, than I could have imagined. I wasn’t surrounded my a medical team I had never met before having conversations about me rather than with me. I was surrounded, instead, by a small team of women who I spent the past 9 months getting to know. They had an immense amount of confidence in me, my body, and the natural journey of giving birth. It was never looked at as a problem or an illness.
I get frustrated when I think too long about the state of our maternity care in the united states. In my work, I am constantly shown the intelligence and strength that women have. The mothers intuition is real and yet, our current maternal health care system completely ignores and squelches it. Instead, they approach women and pregnancy as weak and ill. Our voices are not taken seriously and instead the expectation is to follow the experts. The experts, in my experience, are the midwives who spend each day empowering their clients to speak up and make decisions they know are best for them and their child.
I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about advocating for yourself. This is much easier said than done when it comes to the medical system. I want to encourage women to continue to press on. Trust in your intuition, your body, your intelligence and your strength. There are some medical practices or providers that you may find will not listen to you. I encourage you to go somewhere else. You should feel heard and listened to. You do know your body best, you have lived with it for your whole life. Your mother’s intuition begins in pregnancy, not just after you give birth and I want to encourage you to trust it during these early stages.
If you have the option to work with a midwife, I encourage you to have the conversation. No matter who you decide to partner with for your maternity care, It should be a partnership. You should feel empowered, not overtaken. Your voice should be heard and you should be able to speak up, question, and voice your concerns or disagreements. If you don't feel this partnership, keep looking.