It’s International Midwives Day today, though some would say International Midwifery Day. When my pregnancy for Reid was confirmed, I called both the Ottawa Midwifery Collective and the Ottawa Midwifery Group. I was told both practices were fully booked for July. I went with the Ob/Gyn associated with my family doctor. We met when I was 24 weeks or so and then had appointments from 32 weeks and for the rest of my pregancy. The Ob/Gyn was part of a practice of more than 10 and they each took 24 hours at a time. I would have had a less than 10% chance of having her deliver the baby, if she hadn’t already planned her vacation for July. With no other choice, I stayed with the practice. I was treated professionally, if impersonally, and after Reid’s birth, I agreed with my mother that it was the nurses that really mattered. I’m not sure what was the name of the doctor who was in the room when Reid was born. The intern actually caught her. At least, I think so. We were also accompanied by a doula and a doula-in-training. Now, they were important to the process. I should note that one of the midwifery practices contacted me when I was about 3 months pregnant to say that they had an opening. I was too superstitious to take the spot of someone who had miscarried but I suppose it could have been someone who moved away or was deemed high risk. Pregnancy and superstition go together, though, don’t they?
Like most women who consider a midwife, I was drawn to:
* the opportunity to spend more time at the appointments;
* the way midwives tend to involve the whole family;
* the choice of hospital or home birth (though I can’t imagine being confident enough in myself for home birth);
* the fact that midwife-attended births see fewer interventions such as forceps, vacuum and epidurals;
* the continuity of care after birth that midwives offer; and
* the breastfeeding support that midwives provide. (That would have been fabulous, as it turned out.)
Since I can’t share my story of a midwife birth, I’ll point you to a couple of other people’s stories. Dani at Postcards from the Mothership wrote about her son’s birth story with midwife care at a hospital and
Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess wrote about her son’s home birth which was attended by a midwife.
I’m a researcher at heart and so I have to share a few basic facts. Between 70-85% of women have low risk pregnancies and would be good candidates for midwifery care. All the same, only 8% of births in Ontario are attended by midwives. This compares to 4% of births in the US. I couldn’t find the statistic for Canada as a whole. I wonder how much these numbers would rise if there more midwives and, maybe more importantly, more access for them to hospital facilities.
If you want more information about midwifery, check out:
* Consumers Supporting Midwifery Care – an Ottawa-based organization that offers information sessions monthly for parents-to-be and those hoping to be that way and guest speakers for high school guidance and family study deparments. They have an annual picnic coming up on May 25th, too;
* Canadian Association of Midwives – the organization that represents midwives and works to spread midwife care in Canada;
* Midwives Alliance of North America – the organization represents professional midwives and advocates; and
* Doulas of North America – the organization represents doulas, those who supply non-medical birth support. When midwives aren’t an option, it is good to have a doula in your corner when dealing with labour and hospital procedures and the way that they “always” do things.