Thursday, June 11, 2009

In praise of good birth attendants

I brought these mini rose bushes, thank you cards, and copies of my birth slideshow to my midwives today. It was my 10 week postpartum appointment. I was thrilled to see their new, gorgeous, and much larger office. Their practice is growing, and that makes me so happy.

This is the first time I've ever wanted to give a thank you gift to my birth attendant. And I'm feeling even more grateful today than I was a few weeks ago. Some scary complications following my sister-in-law's home birth have shaken me up over the last couple of weeks. And they have shown me more clearly than ever how valuable an experienced midwife is. I love midwives. I think more women should be attended by midwives. I think we need more midwives in this world. But I now know that I will never feel comfortable putting my or my future babies' lives in the hands of just any midwife.

I sat and talked with Mary today at my appointment. She held and admired my beautiful Bubby, of course. And we chatted for a bit about my birth and my sister-in-law's birth. Every midwife is so different. Not all midwives will handle a situation the same way. But I think one of the reasons Mary's outcomes have been so consistently good is that she can sense when something is going to happen... before it happens. She told me that most midwives develop that ability after they've practiced for more than 15 years. Mary's been a midwife for over 30 years, so her sense is especially in tune. And I'm so grateful for her gift. Because it kept my Bubby safe when she sensed he needed to be born quickly. I also think her years of experience have exposed her to nearly every possible complication, so she has witnessed and learned the best ways to handle those problems.

I had a really hard time keeping my "birth faith" during and immediately after my sister-in-law's brush with catastrophe. I even contemplated quitting this blog altogether. But then I cooled down and got my head in order and realized that her experience didn't change what I already knew deep down. The birth process was beautifully designed, but that doesn't mean complications don't ever happen. No one ever said bad things don't happen in home births. What we do know is that home birth is just as safe for low-risk women as hospital birth, but there is always the "with a skilled attendant" to qualify that safety. Midwives have varying degrees of experience, skills, and credentials. So what exactly qualifies someone as a "skilled attendant"? I'm not really sure what the answer to that is. But I am grateful and fortunate that I chose Mary--without a doubt one of the most skilled attendants there is.

Fortunately, my sister-in-law is doing much better now. Thank heaven for doctors and hospitals when we need them! No doubt about it... we are so fortunate to have modern medical intervention at our service when we need it. And, fortunately, my sister-in-law's birth experience itself was wonderful and beautiful. In fact, to this day she can't remember feeling any labor pain. Now that's incredible! I guess I need to look into that hypnobirthing stuff!


HollySteffen said...

i JUST heard of that about a week before my birth. i'm TOTALLY looking into it for baby #3!!!!

The Fifes said...

Yea, i was pretty turned off to midwives after my experience. Midwives are DEFINITELY not all created equal. So we'll see if someday i try them again. I hope my delivery goes well this time... i have heard great things about her.