After our wedding in July of 2016, I knew that when we got pregnant I wanted a midwife for our prenatal care. I had done so much reading and listening to others encounters with midwives that I just knew this was the route I wanted to take.
Robbie was a bit more skeptical of midwives (when you think of midwives you think untrained, old wives tales, and many other eccentric stories). But midwives are actually regulated by the Government and are highly trained in all things baby related – pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum care for Mom and baby.
They are fully qualified as care providers, and can do essentially everything an OB can do. Plus their training far exceeds that of just the physical care aspect. Their approach is very humanitarian, meaning it applies to the physical aspects of care but also cover the emotional aspect of care that all Mama’s crave.
Sure they can’t actually do ultrasounds physically themselves but they do refer you and get you into any hospital for an ultrasound. Then the ultrasound results get sent back to the midwife who goes over the finding with you. They send you for blood work and to do your gestational diabetes testing, as well.
They don’t miss a beat.
A midwife provides medical care during pregnancy and childbirth. Your midwife will diagnose and treat the Mama-to-be medically (which includes cervical checks, fetal heartbeat tones, baseline testing – blood pressure, weight gain etc), provide minor surgical care such as episiotomy care and stitching, aid in the delivery, and provide prenatal care from the beginning of the pregnancy onward.
Midwives go far beyond the physical aspect of your pregnancy. They are there to listen, to comfort and to provide options. They are knowledgeable enough to provide options, and take you through your options. They bring back the choices that many women don’t have with a typical OB birth. Instead of following hospital protocol or a one size fits all birth plan, midwives are there to listen to you to help you have the birth you want.
Saying all of that, midwives also know when you don’t have options. Sometimes, if the baby is in distress or something is wrong during labor, you might not have options as to what do to next. But they provide support for you and will at least explain what is happening, rather than just jumping in and giving the Mom no expectation of what is occurring.
After telling people we have a midwife, there has been a lot of questions and general misunderstanding about midwives. so many questions of:
Are they even qualified? Yes, they have a successful completion of a 4 year BHSc in Midwifery, attended (under supervision of an experienced midwife) a minimum of 60 births (10 must be home births), successful completion of the Canadian Midwifery Registration Examination, and certification in CPR, NRP (neonatal resuscitation) and emergency skills. So often in hospitals in the labor and delivery wing, Registered Nurse’s go on to deliver babies themselves when the Doctors don’t show up in time. The difference with the 4 years training RN’s get verse the training of a Midwife, is that the whole four years of midwifery training revolves solely on all aspects of prenatal care, where RN education covers a broad aspect of topics.
Countless horror stories from the 19th/ early 20th century: there are so many reasons births didn’t always go well. Things as simple as hygiene, fetal ultrasounds weren’t introduced until the 1950’s, childbed fever, lack of medication, proper equipment, and lack of antibiotics, just to name a few. There weren’t many ways to diagnose complications in pregnancy. Things have progressed since. It’s similar to why death by measles and polio are rare. Modern medicinal advancements.
General misunderstanding of how up to date in medicine and care regarding prenatal care: so many think midwifery is like voodoo, magic or outdated practices. But like I mentioned above. They are very up to date on modern medicine and also have much more natural remedies or suggestions for common problems than a traditional OB might suggest.
On the bright side of infertility, I had the better part of 2.5 years to convince Robbie that midwives are qualified and are our best option. I consider this one of the few benefits of infertility for us personally.
I got Robbie on board with the idea of a midwife probably about a year ago. So the day I took that pregnancy test and got my first positive, you bet after I called Robbie with the news, I filled out my application online for the midwives.
I wanted to secure a spot as soon as possible. The following day, I received an email from the Midwives saying that sadly at this point they weren’t able to accommodate me. I was so devastated and oddly enough I cried. I had waited this long to get pregnant and I thought that all else would simply fall into place once I conquered the obstacle of infertility. The email stated that I could respond and email back to be placed on the waiting list.
So I emailed back to get on the waiting list. Part of me wanted to get taken on, but I was also hoping I wouldn’t at this point. Would it mean that someone miscarried and that’s why I would possibly have an opportunity to be taken on? Obviously I have been dreaming of this for a long time but I would never, ever want someone to have a miscarriage in order for me to get what I want.
In our region, there is only the one midwifery clinic so I didn’t have the option of applying elsewhere for midwifery care, that someone in a more urban setting might have options too.
I thought to myself, once I have my ultrasound in Ottawa and graduate from the Fertility Clinic, I would start the search for an OB.
You see, I have some slight differences in care aspects and have a slightly more natural perspective on prenatal care aspects, so I really wanted the midwives because I knew they would understand some of my concerns. As opposed to constantly feeling like I had my back against the wall, to defend my beliefs with a standard OB. Nothing against OB’s as I know they do a wonderful job and I have so many friends who rave about their OB and birth experience. The truth is, we all have different paths we wish to follow and that’s completely okay! I just have know which path I want.
A month later, I woke up one morning randomly, checked my emails and there in my mailbox, was an email titled “Spot Available for Midwifery Care.”
I skimmed over the email quickly, just wanting to confirm the title was indeed correct. It was. For whatever reason, my reply email didn’t send to put me on the list, but since I was the first to put in my application, out of the very generous and kindness of their hearts, they emailed me asking if I was still interested and to email back if I was. I had 24 hours to respond until they moved on to the next in line.
Cue the happy tears. I was shaking responding to that email. I couldn’t believe it – I, Rebecca, was going to have a MIDWIFE! I responded back instantly, without letting Robbie in on any of this (I did text him later to fill him in and he was so happy that we got on because he knew how much it meant to me). Shortly after, I got the email of confirmation saying I was officially under midwifery care and to expect a call within 10 days to arrange my first midwife appointment.
Literally 10 days later, I got a call from the receptionist to book my appointment and go over some of the details of how everything worked with the midwives. The receptionist was so lovely and chatty, we ended up being on the phone for 15 minutes, only probably 5 minutes were about midwifery, the other 10 minutes was just a casual call. When would you ever get that kind of service from a traditional doctors office?
There are four midwives at the Madawaska Valley Midwives. You are assigned two midwives and a team colour. Your prenatal appointments are mostly with alternating with your assigned midwives, however you do meet all the midwives in case your assigned midwives are at a birth the same time as yours, so you’ll be familiar with everyone. My midwives were Suki (who I have heard nothing but amazing things about from Lesley – my acupuncturist, who has actually attended a few births with her), and Kilmeny.
We scheduled my prenatal appointment for a few weeks down the road and my first appointment would be with Suki.
Fast forward down the road, and I had my appointment with Suki, which Robbie sadly wasn’t able to attend. Meeting with Suki was a breath of fresh air. I simply fell in love with her and her calm, knowledgeable demeanor. She was clever, smart, and quite comical in all the ways that I appreciate.
The appointment went onward for 50 minutes, going over baseline information, family history, and our personal history. I had told her how excited I was for a midwife and that I was crushed when I originally got the email saying they couldn’t accommodate me at first. She explained that because I had found out so early compared to most, that they don’t accept new clients until enough time has passed that their old clients have time to apply again. Once enough time has passed and they still have opening, they except new clients.
Between the four midwives, they can only have 16 Mama-to-be’s a month, with their due dates varying throughout the month. Although your due date is only an estimation, you cant have 16 people that all are due within a week. It’s simply not possible to attend all births.
I was just so relieved that my open position wasn’t because someone had lost their baby.
I went on to explain that Robbie and I got pregnant from IVF, as a result of both our diagnoses (low oavrian reserve for me, and low motility for him). Later on, a question came up “was this child planned or unplanned.” Without skipping a beat (I should also mention Suki is British and has the most incredible British accent so its very important to always read quotes from her in an accent) “I think its safe to say that this child was completely accidental” as she ticked off the “planned” box. To which we both laughed.
Suki asked if I wanted to do a 12 week ultrasound coming up. I declined. I already had done my viability ultrasound, and didn’t feel it was necessary for another at this time. I really want the bare minimum of ultrasounds. I’ll happily accept the 20 week anatomy scan, but after that, unless I need to have more for concerns that something isn’t right, I don’t need to voluntarily opt for more.
At the very end of the appointment, she pulled out the doppler so that I could hear the heart beat for the first time. I pulled out my phone to record it knowing that Robbie would want to hear this later and I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to use the Doppler again in the near future.
Instantaneously, the Doppler picked up both our heart beats. Mine, slow and steady, and my baby, fast and rthymatic. I was completely in awe of the sound of our two heart beats at once. There was no sound that could ever compare to how beautiful it felt to hear my babies heart beat.
I left the midwife appointment with the ultimate sense of calmness and the feeling of this is exactly where I am supposed to be in my journey.
Later that night, I played the recording of our babies heart beat to Robbie. We listened to it again and again. So simply amazed and speechless of how powerful of a moment it was to be able to hear that.
I had booked my following midwife appointment the following month, as in the early stages of pregnancy, you only need one prenatal appointment per month.
How simply wonderful it was to finally feel like we are on the right track as to were we should be.
“I truly believe that everything we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” Marla Gibbs
For info about the midwifery care in Renfrew County:
To make an appointment with Lesley for acupuncture, contact Bamboo 72: