When I got the delightful news of my pregnancy, my family physician handed me a list of Obstetricians in the area who were taking on new patients. I did my homework and proceeded to make an appointment with one of the obstetricians on the list.
Like millions of new mothers, I didn’t think anything more of the process. As far as I knew, there were no other options for my maternity care. In only a few appointments I was already disappointed with how impersonal my doctor’s visits had been. It wasn’t until I had a rather interesting conversation with a friend of a friend that led me to consider midwifery. Until this particularly conversation, I thought of midwifery as an all-natural, home-birthing, hippie kind-of thing to do. It was certainly not that.
With a strong recommendation, I went with North York Midwifery Care. They had full privileges at North York General Hospital, which was important to me. I knew my midwife would do much of the monitoring during my labour, but I wanted to make sure the Obstetrician on-call would be able to step-in should it be necessary. In addition, there was plenty of data that indicated that midwife births were less likely to have any technological interventions and result in Caesarean sections. The icing on the cake was knowing that my care provider – the person who would be with me for the duration of my pregnancy, whom I would share my birth plan with, and build a relationship with – would be the same person who would be with me in the delivery room.
From the moment I walked into the midwifery centre, it was apparent that this wasn’t a doctor’s appointment. Our meeting was not at all like that of a patient and care provider. My midwife and I spoke to each other like two women conversing about our lives – our past, and the exciting future that awaited. She shared stories about her three children, their births, and how quickly time seems to fly. I no longer felt like my appointments were to prep me for a medical procedure; but, rather, I was being prepared to bring life into this world. Each appointment was filled with discussions about how things were going, what next steps were, and questions or concerns I had. All the standard medical procedures were taken – timely blood work, testing, and ultrasounds. It was, in my perspective, the best of both worlds. I was receiving the care and expertise of a traditional doula paired with the advancements of Western modern medicine.
Having found myself a perfect match for my maternity care needs, I was on cloud nine. Unfortunately, not everyone was as accepting of this ‘non-conventional’ route as I was. Close family questioned my decision to opt out of the care of an Obstetrician. They (much like myself) were uninformed of midwifery practices in North America and how they differed from traditional doulas in South Asia. Often times, I would find myself defending and justifying my decision. It seemed there was an implicit belief among many elder family members that Western ‘modern medicine’ was more superior, and midwifery was old-fashioned and out-dated – a challenging mindset I faced time and time again. However, at the end of the day, I knew I was the one who had to be comfortable with my decision. And, I most definitely was.
My midwife was available to talk and answer questions around the clock. She was patient and caring, dealing with my incessant questions as my due date neared. She made several trips to my home during my labour, and visited each day for the first week with my new baby. A luxury I would not have come close to had I taken the Obstetrician route. I didn’t have to worry about braving the Canadian winters with my newborn for the initial checkups. She came prepared to watch for jaundice, make sure he was gaining weight, and other relevant examinations. Interestingly enough, the new mother was not forgotten. The midwife also handled my postpartum care and checkups, and provided ample support in a variety of different ways.
With my pleasant experience in midwifery care, I find it hard to believe that only less than 5 percent of births in Canada involve a midwife. I am always eager to share my story; the hope is that by sharing my personal experience, others like myself will abandon their misguided notions of midwifery and the profession will be given the same level of respect as the more conventional prenatal care providers.
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