By Kelsey on September 7, 2011 39

5 Reasons We Chose a Midwife

Years ago I heard about the documentary The Business of Being Born from a friend. A couple days after we found out we were expecting, I sat down and watched it. There are some graphic parts during the film, but overall I enjoyed it and it got me excited about choosing a care provider that was right for me.

Two weeks later, Eric watched it. I had already scheduled my first appointment with the Methodist Midwife Services, but I wanted him to be on the same team. Before he watched it I think he thought I was a hippie and just wanted to be different. :) (And he has reason to think both of those things, honestly.) But after watching the documentary, he had the same feelings as I did.

So at 10 weeks we went to our first appointment. We both felt certain that we had made the right choice. It was very comfortable and we love the philosophy of care of the midwives we have chosen.

5 Reasons We Chose a Midwife

  • I like attention. (Ha!) We live in a big city where there are many, many births every day. The nurses and doctors are extremely busy and aren’t able to provide undivided attention to each birth, nor are they trained in providing supportive emotional care during the labor process. The midwives we have chosen typically assist one birth at a time.
  • Statistically, midwives produce shorter labors with less tearing. I’ll have both, please and thank you.
  • I want to give birth in an upright position. I want to let gravity work with me and the baby, and also to create the largest possible opening with my pelvis to get the baby out. This type of birth is standard with a midwife. You may be able to find a doctor in your area who will allow you give birth in an upright position, but I made sure to ask such questions before I scheduled my first appointment.
  • We want to bring our baby into the world as naturally as possible. I’m not completely against pain medication during labor and delivery, but I think there are ways to limit my and the baby’s exposure to such things, and we’re hoping to do that. (And, I hate needles!)
  • It’s cheaper. OK, so it wasn’t a reason we chose one, but it’s a definite benefit nonetheless.

>> My ideal situation would be to also have the option of a water birth. However, to have a water birth in Des Moines at this time I believe you must also have a home birth. I don’t think water births are allowed in Iowa hospitals, although you can labor in the tub. I know hundreds of women have given birth at home successfully, but Eric and I don’t (not to mention my mother) feel comfortable with that arrangement.

In general, it seems there is not much education about the choices women have when choosing a maternity care provider. I get lots of questions about what a midwife is and why we are using one. You can have a midwife and also have a scheduled C-section. You can have a midwife and get an epidural. A midwife is not typically a doctor, but they are certified in labor and delivery of low-risk pregnancies. (And, many times they’ve actually gone through it themselves!)

Side note to interested Des Moines women: Willowsong Midwifery Care is opening a free-standing birth center opening in Des Moines in the summer of 2012, but construction won’t be completed in time for us to use it. (I’m not saying I would have chosen that over our current situation, mostly because I envision I will want a longer stay, but, again, I’d love to have the option of a water birth.)

Before you send hate mail, please know: I believe each pregnancy, baby, doctor and hospital is unique. We’re planning to be flexible. I don’t think women who get epidurals are terrible–I just don’t think it’s for me. I will never push my birth plan on anyone else; I hope you find out what you want and then make it happen! I believe my body will know how I need to deliver my baby and that it will tell me what I need to do. Safety of me and the baby comes first. Our birth plan may not be followed when baby’s birthday comes, but we are learning all we can at this point and making choices based on that.

I would love to hear your thoughts and positive birth stories!


Facebook Discussion

Facebook Discussion


I love my husband, my daughter and the Internet.

  1. The midwife who was in practice with my OB delivered my son. I saw only the OB for the first half, and only the midwife for the second half of my pregnancy. She was fabulous!! I would recommend checking into it for anyone. She went to great lengths to avoid an episiotomy (and no tearing!!) so my recovery time was minimal. She didn’t really focus on alternatives to pain medicine, but I knew from the very beginning that I wanted an epidural so I never asked about it. You are definitely right though….each woman is different and should make the choice she feels most comfortable with. Congratulations to you!

    • I think tearing is my worst fear (and yet so many people recover quickly and don’t think anything of it, so that tells me it’s probably not a huge deal), so lucky you for avoiding it! I’m glad you had a positive experience!

  2. There is not much education for women about their choices at all!! I used to think women who wanted natural midwife attended births were hippies, but I was uneducated about it at the time. My friend had a home birth, and I have fallen in love with this blog ( and her birth story. Also, have you heard of Hypnobabies? My coworkers wife delivered her first child naturally using this pain management technique. You can find youtube videos of ladies giving birth using it. It may sound a little crazy, but it’s really just about relaxation and mind over matter. The creator is interviewed in Pregnant in America documentary.

    • Thanks for sharing that link! I am so thankful for the women who share so many details of their experiences. I have heard of Hypnobabies, but don’t know too much about it. It kind of freaks me out, but I’m sure I just need to learn more. And, I’m still planning to watch that documentary. Maybe this weekend!

  3. Hey there! I had a great birthing experience with my first (and only so far) babe, who was 9 lbs, 2 oz. We had to be induced due to some complications, so I wasn’t able to be in a birthing center or use a midwife, but despite the Pitocin I was able to have no drugs and give birth in less than 10 hours. And my doc was also great about no tearing. BUT – because I had to be induced, I was stuck on my back in bed the entire time and couldn’t really use many of my planned coping techniques, which stunk. That being said, my birth was still really beautiful and perfect.

    So, point of this comment, I guess is three-fold: (1) to share my positive birth story (because I had a hard time finding those online), (2) even if your birth doesn’t end up looking exactly like you picture it now, it can still be really awesome and beautiful, and (3) it’s really MOST important to find a caregiver you really feel comfortable with and I am SO GLAD you have found that in your midwife. We used a doctor, like I said, but we also had a doula and she was awesome and really helped us communicate our needs/wants. I am praying for a peaceful, easy pregnancy and birth for you and Eric.

    • Did you have an IV for the pitocin? I am not against pitocin, but I think I’d prefer a lower dose than usually is given.

      Also, I considered a doula but I think we might have my sister in on the birth instead. Eric is also excited to be my coach :)

  4. I had no epidural at my babys birth. I myself had to be induced which was not on my birth plan but I was running low on amniotic fluid so it was time for Kai to come out! Being on Pitocin left me with limited positions to be because I had to be hooked to moniters.

    I went in that day already dialated to a 4 and 100% effaced which was good. I am not going to lie, the contractions really hurt I had more back labor than anything. Fortunatally I had an amazing nurse and husband who helped me to remember to breathe through the tough contractions! (this is where lamaze class would have really helped unfortunatly we didn’t take them) Needless to say 6 hours later and 5 pushes our beautiful boy Kai was here and I forgot all about the pain and felt amazing right afterwards Through out all this I am happy I was open to all scenerios because you just never what will happen during the process.

    • I am reading as many birth stories (and watching birth videos) as I can to broaden my expectations and knowledge of the twists and turns a delivery can take. Thanks for sharing your story–congrats on your little guy!

  5. Ditto the being open to options…after 24 hours of labor and a failed epidural I ended up with an emergency C-section….no matter how my birth plan went out the window in the end I got my amazing baby girl! Having great support during and after the preganancy is the most important!!

    Congrats guys!! I love reading your blogs and am amazed at the talent you have to even get me keeping up with a blog…never thought I would be one to do that!!

  6. Hey Kelsey, as you know I don’t have any kids, so I can’t speak from any personal experience.
    But a really good friend of mine from my home church is a widwife and she is probably one of the most caring and gentle people I know. I definitely want her coaching me when we have babies.
    She also has a blog about birth and babies and midwifery. It is from an Aussie perspective but maybe you’d find it helpful.

  7. Kels and Eric-
    I was very unfamiliar with midwife services until recently, but would agree that they are a great resource in obstetrics, working side by side with physicians and nurses, especially in uncomplicated episodes. Whether people have positive or negative connotations regarding them, they should really consider the straight facts when comparing services from a OB doc and a midwife (nurse practitioners/APRNs). There are a lot of over-publicized misconceptions both ways. For instance:
    1) midwives are not just for hippies and lots of pregnant physicians seek midwife care;
    2) also, many if not most physicians will also support delivery in multiple positions, but a supine (dorsal-lithotomy) most often results due to several contextual variables including maternal fatigue/endurance, comfort, and kinetics of pushing;
    3) finally, use of episiotomy has changed significantly for all practitioners in keeping with evidence based practice.
    You guys did the right thing by really looking into, and learning about your provider.

    As an aspiring healthcare provider, I am interested in reading the papers which show the statistically significant evidence you mention–’shorter labor’ and ‘less tears’ with midwife care. At first thought, I would think that length of labor and degree of lacerations are most dependent on maternal/fetal anatomy and physiology and less on provider.

    Hope you are both doing well, and hope to see you soon!

    • Great insight, Michael. There are lots of things to think about and it’s great to get other perspectives. I don’t have any friends who have used midwives (that I know of), so most of the stories I hear in person are about physician-assisted births, and most of them are extremely positive! Your third point in particular is helping me realize I need to get in serious physical shape to deliver a baby the way I’m hoping to!

      I will look for the articles I’ve read re: shorter births and less tearing–perhaps it’s related to the fact that upright births 1) are most often midwife-assisted and 2) can produce those two outcomes?

  8. First of all, Congrats to you on your pregnancy! I think it’s wonderful that you are exploring your options. I myself do not know much about choosing a midwife, so this post was really interesting for me to read. I hope you have a wonderful pregnancy and a healthy baby!

  9. I’m so excited for you! Midwife sounds great :)

    I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Read about it here:

  10. You guys are already starting out parenting with the two most important virtues: Having a plan, and being flexible if the plan doesn’t go as you expected. That basically sums up the birth until they turn 18 and beyond. I never got a choice in birth plan really (obviously) so it is always fun to read others’!

  11. You’re making a great choice! I got a fair amount of flak from the uninformed when I chose a midwife, and although I didn’t have the birth I hoped for, I will not hesitate to chose a midwife if we get the chance to have another child!

  12. I had two natural childbirths and saw midwives for the duration of both my pregnancies. I made this decision after lots of reading and research. For the first, I unexpectedly went into labor prematurely when my water broke early and therefore ended up being delivered by an OB in a hospital (planned a birth center setting, not a home birth). It only took the 10 minutes I had delivering with the OB to convince me I had made the right choice going with the midwife to begin with (plus I tore – I now realize due to his “coaching”), plus my postpartum care at the hands of the L&D nurses was horrific. (As a side note, while I did not get my ideal childbirth, my midwife did exactly what should have been done in the situation. She transferred me to the hospital where a neonatologist could be present. My son is alive and well because he had the right care on hand. A good midwife knows when to transfer care.) For my second I again saw a midwife, went 10 days overdue, and ended up with an unassisted delivery in my car due to my lightning quick labor. I delivered the baby myself and did not tear! The post-partum care my midwife gave at the birth center minutes later was phenomenal – one of the best days of my life. Childbirth is difficult and painful, but when you think about the what’s involved I don’t believe there’s a way to make it “easy”. It’s also quite manageable. Some advice:
    1) You must go in convinced you are absolutely going natural (husband too!). The pain is nothing to fear, the better educated and prepared you are, the easier it will be.
    2) Practice whatever relaxation techniques you decide to use – A LOT, preferably with pain stimulus (such as ice cube in hand). With my first I was only able to successfully use techniques I had spent time practicing… my second there was no time to try to relax, but that’s a rare circumstance.
    3) Read the book Birthing from Within

  13. I loved my birth experience with our midwife, even though it didn’t follow our birth plan exactly. It’s so great when you and your husband are on the same page about things. My husband was definitely pro-midwife once he learned all about it. I highly recommend the book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”. It has some kind of out there hippy stories, but it’s just filled with positive birth stories. It really helped give me confidence in my own body to do what it needed to do.

    • I’ll admit I’m still a little shaky (confidence-wise) about the whole thing, so I’m trying to read lots of birth stories…I love hearing all the details. Will look into that book–thanks for the tip!

  14. Congratulations! And kudos to you for investigating your options!
    I’m a bit biased because I used the same midwives’ group — they’re fantastic. They were thoughtful, compassionate, supportive and direct when I need them to be. I had to be induced (my sweet, stubborn girl was comfy well past her due time!), but we started with minimal intervention (broke my water) and patience and that’s all it took.
    I also have to give an enthusiastic second to Court’s and Alicia’s recommendations — Birthing from Within and Ina May’s books were key in developing my confidence.

    Best wishes!

    • That is awesome! Who delivered your baby? I have met Susan and our next appt. is with Pam.

      Also, did you take any natural childbirth classes in the area? (We may need to connect via email about this! I have questions! :))

      • Pam delivered my baby and managed my care that day. Loved her, and I’d really hoped all along that she’d be the one doing deliveries on our “big day.”
        I took a short “refresher” course, since this was my second baby. But it was put on by the hospital and so wasn’t geared specifically toward natural childbirth.
        The books mentioned earlier really did more to prepare me than anything. Knowing what’s natural and normal during labor and delivery go a long way in helping a birthing mom not worry so much about how this feels or that feels.
        I walked a lot and then labored in the water for a while; the warm water was key for me.
        Wishing you all the best!

  15. so excited for you all in this! yes, i think being open to what comes your way is a great attitude to have. i planned to do natural but, i had a fever and there was a lot of concern for x, so they wouldn’t let me out of bed at all. i did natural for 7 or 8 hours, but not being able to move around made the pain unbearable, so i ended up getting an epidural. i think because i was open to going with the flow, i wasn’t super upset by it.

    i had a second degree tear, but honestly i had no idea i tore and when i asked the doc about stitching me up he had already done it and i never had any complications from it. so excited to find out what your little nugget will be! :)

    • I don’t think I ever heard your birth story! But I agree wiith you about going with the flow. As most people who really KNOW me know, I am super laid back and it won’t be a problem if it doesn’t go as I’ve planned.

  16. I could talk about natural birth all day! I had one natural and one epidural and honestly enjoyed the natural birth so much more. No tearing either. I highly reccomend Hypnobabies, too, it was really helpful for visualization and alleviating 3rd tri discomfort.

  17. That’s cool that you chose a midwife. Will all of your appointments be with them now? My sis had a midwife and loved the experience. I think it’s probably best to be open-minded because there’s no telling what’s going to happen. That’s my plan too. :) When do you find out what you’re having? Can’t wait to find out what sex our little guy’s playmate will be! :)

    • We have only had one appointment, and it was with the midwives. I’m glad we decided what we wanted to do before our first appointment so we could keep all our appointments with the same group.

      We should find out the week of Oct. 23 what we’re having. Can’t wait! :)

  18. I had a midwife with Cal and loved her. :) Best wishes!!!

  19. I had a midwife for 2 of my 3 children and hands down its the best experience! I also recommend reading Ida Mae Gaskin’s books-they are very earthy but you walk away feeling like you can walk into a field and deliver the baby yourself! LOL Very empowering to understand that our bodies were made to make babies and give birth! Also for a general understanding of the labor and birth process, I highly recommend the Bradley method book. We never took the class but the book is so great-so many people don’t understand the various steps and stages of labor and if they did, how much better the whole process would be! I wish you the best!

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