April 4, 2013

Natural Childbirth: Choosing a Midwife and being Pregnant

So, I said I would do weekly installments, and it has been...let's just say more than a week since my last post.  Sorry about that.  My last post was about why I chose and became passionate about natural childbirth.  This week, I want to share the actual process I went through to achieve that goal.

I feel really lucky to live in Lexington, KY.  It was almost too easy here to find a midwife as opposed to the traditional OB-GYN.  My husband and I had tossed around the idea of a home birth, but given that this was our first pregnancy and we did not really know what to expect, we were more comfortable going to the hospital.  There is a fabulous group of midwives that operate through Lexington Women's Health.  Fun fact:  Missy (the one with the long dark hair) had delivered Caedmon less than 12 hours before that picture was taken!  I chose Alisha Morgan because she was recommended by a friend.  We clicked right away and I saw no need to continue "shopping."  Alisha is also passionate about natural childbirth.  All of them are.  I knew that she would do everything in her power to help me meet my goal.  This group of midwives practice through Central Baptist Hospital, which I had also heard gleaming reviews of, including the excellent food!  Alisha and I talked about natural birth from the beginning.  It was important to me for her to know what I really wanted up front. 

Things that I appreciated about seeing a midwife over an OB-GYN:
Disclaimer: I don't know or believe that all of these things are unique to midwives.  I am sure there are some OB-GYNs that also operate in this way.  No offense is intended, nor do I claim to "know it all." This is simply my observations through comparing my experience to those of some friends that have chosen OB-GYNs for prenatal care.

1:  Not an excessive amount of ultra-sounds.
I have seen that many OBs tend to do ultra-sounds at almost, if not every visit.  There is research suggesting that ultra-sound my not be as safe as we all think it is.  There is an interesting article in Midwifery Today discussing some of the research.  Being a researcher myself, I am always skeptical of research.  It is important to remember that and actual causal relationship has not been established.  There is some correlation though in the amount of Autism in a population and the amount of ultra-sound used.  I had an ultra-sound at 8 weeks at my first appointment, 20 weeks to find out gender, and then when Alisha suspected that Caedmon was breech (I'll discuss that later).  At that point, there were concerns about my fluid level, so I had a couple more to monitor that.  Total, I maybe had 6 ultra-sounds.  The only reason I even had that many was to monitor a possible issue.

2:  Face-time
My mid-wife chatted with me a lot during our visits.  We would even talk about random things like Words with Friends or television shows.  We built a relationship to the point where I would even consider her a friend.  Building that kind of rapport and trust is completely invaluable to me and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

3:  Not panicking unless there was a good reason.
 So, like I said in the paragraph about ultra-sounds, we discovered that Caedmon was breech, the day before I turned 39 weeks.  He had been head down all along, and flipped.  Instead of scheduling a C-Section, Alisha gave me options.  One of which was to attempt to turn him.  An OB-GYN in the practice was able to turn him and he stayed that way.  Also, when we did the ultra-sound to confirm that he was breech, we discovered that my amniotic fluid was lower than they would like.  I know more than one person who was induced for that very reason.  Alisha gave me time.  She told me to rest and drink water, a lot of water.  My fluid came up naturally.  I also went post-date...by 10 days.  Alisha let me put off induction as long as humanly possible and I went into labor naturally just under the deadline.  All of those factors could have been a recipe for a C-Section or Induction if I had been with someone else.  I was grateful for options and for the fact that I didn't have to fight for them.

Other things I did while pregnant to help toward my goal of a natural birth included researching everything related to natural childbirth.  I took the natural childbirth class offered by the hospital, learned about hypnobirthing, and gathered/burrowed things like I birth ball and essential oils for relaxation from friends.  I also read the most amazing book by the most amazing midwife, Ina May Gaskin.  You can see it on Amazon.  In it was a quote that got me through even the most frustrating times.  "You are not a machine.  Your body is not a lemon.  The creator is not a careless mechanic."  So often, women's bodies are blamed for interventions in the birthing process, but most women are built to have babies.  The C-Section rate in this country is currently 1 in 3.  In Ina May's practice out of 2,844 births, they have needed 50 C-Sections.  That's 1.7%!  Those 2,844 births also include twins and breech births.  See more of their amazing statistics here.  I spent my whole pregnancy with the mind-set that I was not a lemon and that I was completely and totally capable of delivering my baby naturally.  That mind-set helped me to be determined and to overcome whatever hiccups I faced.

My next post (hopefully next week) will be about my actual birth.  Don't worry, I won't be gross.  I just want to tell it like it was.  It was hard and beautiful and perfect.  Also, I have a poll about the name of my blog on the the right.  Please vote!


  1. Hi! I don't know if you were expecting to have random strangers read your blog, but I'm desperately (maybe a bit preemptively haha) searching for a midwife in Lexington and I happened upon your site. The ladies at Lexington Women's Health seem like they might be a good fit, but I was initially hoping to avoid a hospital delivery (also influenced by Ms. Lake's documentary)
    So I have a couple questions, since it sounds like you had such a great experience at Central Baptist (which is exactly a mile from my house - awfully convenient!) Feel free to answer them here, or you can email me at soy.lor.n at gmail

    1. Giving birth at central baptist with a midwife - does a physician come for the final stages, or is it just your midwife unless she discovers some sort of problem?

    2. What were some of the other options your midwife gave you re: your breech child? I was breech and my mom was told she had to have a c-section and I really want to avoid that at all costs. I've read up on some of the things you can do if your baby is breech, I'm just wondering specifically what Alisha offered you other than manually turning (and the "obvious" schedule a c-section)

  2. Hi Lauren!

    I am so glad that you found my blog and that it may be helpful for you in your search. I love that a stranger found and read my blog (I was pretty sure strangers would not care about what I wrote so it makes me feel pretty awesome). Let me answer your questions to the best of my ability:

    1: At Central Baptist and with Lexington Women's Health, if you have a midwife, the chances are really good that a midwife will deliver your baby. For my birth, the only people in the room were the midwife, a nurse, and my husband. It was exactly how I wanted it. That being said, it may not be your midwife, as in the one you had pre-natal appointments with. While Alisha was my mid-wife, my sweet boy was delivered by Missy, who is another midwife in the practice. There are 3 and they rotate being on call. The midwife on call at the time of delivery will deliver you. All 3 are wonderful, so not a deal-breaker for me. Plus, Missy turned out to be such a great fit for my delivery. I really can't complain. I have heard of a couple other women I know that worked with this particular group who had an OB deliver them because I midwife was unavailable. However, they would still be from that practice and respect your birth plan and preferences.

    2. So, this is tough because my situation was somewhat exceptional. Because my boy who can be quite difficult sometimes decided to turn breech so late in pregnancy (39 weeks), I had fewer options than most. Most babies that are breech have always been that way so intervention can take place over time. With the threat (not the best word choice, but seems to fit) of labor at any time, it was crucial to get him back the right way as soon as possible. If I had gone into labor with him breech, they would have had to stop labor to turn him, and that is an intervention that can lead to WAY too many interventions. So, manual turning was what made the most sense given that timeline. However, I did research a lot of other methods including, chiropractic, acupuncture, hypnosis, positions I could get in, etc. to get him to turn on his own. Most of these things take multiple sessions and I just didn't have that kind of time. She also said we could wait it out and see if he would turn back, but that was iffy. I honestly believe she gave me the best options for my situation and that she would have offered other more unconventional options in other circumstances. I also feel very blessed that the manual turning worked because I have since talked with many women for whom it did not. Trust me, I was going to avoid a C-section at all costs as well. If she had told me to stand on my head and chew bubble gum while singing yankee doodle, I would have done it.

  3. Thanks so much for the very helpful reply. I'm glad your son's birth ended up going so well! You seem to have such a wonderful little family. I'll definitely keep Women's Health in mind :-)