A Look Inside a Prenatal Midwife Appointment

Long before becoming pregnant with our first child we decided that a midwife and birth center would be our ideal choice for labor and delivery. However, what I wasn’t expecting were the calls, emails, and questions my close family would be getting from those around them about the safety, or rather the supposed danger, of our choice. Many were concerned that I wasn’t getting proper prenatal care or proper check ups. So this post is to quickly share what a traditional midwife appointment looks like and why it isn’t so different from an OBGYN after all.

Our current birth center, Labor of Love, in Tyler, Texas.  Photo courtesy of Labor of Love.

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It was often imagined that our care providers consisted of a group of little old ladies who just up and decided one day to deliver babies with no training or education. I think it was my sister who originally shared this thought with me. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) go through years of training and schooling, much like your traditional OBGYN.

Midwife appointments are scheduled according to the same schedule one would follow with an OBGYN. Beginning at 8-12weeks appointments are scheduled every four weeks until the 28-30 week mark. At that time they increase to every two weeks and eventually to every week the last few weeks of the third trimester.

Each appointment includes:
1.) The ever fun pee in a cup, where your urine is checked for protein content among other things. I opted to not include a picture of this part. You’re welcome.
2.) Weight check – my favorite part. *Read strong sarcasm.

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3.) Baby’s heart rate is taken with a Doppler followed by baby’s measurement.

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4.) Mom’s blood pressure and pulse check.

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If there is any additional testing to be done such as blood work, glucose, GBS testing, etc., it is done in the same room immediately following the routine check-up procedures.

Following the routine procedures, ample time is given for questions, concerns, or more likely in my case, visiting about random topics. I especially enjoy this, as it allows me to get to know my care providers on a more personal, friendly level. I find this aspect particularly important, due to the fact you will likely be spending hours with this person in your most vulnerable state.

Miss Ryan checking out the birth tub where I plan to delivery her brother in just a few weeks.

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In addition, several perks are involved with a birth center midwife appointment over an OBGYN office visit. Some of these may be my own opinions formed based on information I’ve heard from others. I have no experience in an OBGYN office other than routine yearly appointments that I went to before discovering midwifery.

1.) Shorter wait times.
In two pregnancies at two different birth centers, I don’t think I’ve ever had to wait more than 10 minutes. I didn’t realize how appreciative I was of this until my sister waited over an hour and a half just to get in a room a couple weeks ago at her OBGYN. In the event of laboring moms, my appointment would be rescheduled to a different day. While this seems like it would be a major inconvenience, it has only happened to me one time in each pregnancy.

2.) Longer appointment times.
As stated above, I’ve never experienced a feeling of being rushed due to a backed up schedule or laboring mom.

3.) More options and less pressure when it comes to testing and optional procedures.
I have full control over what testing, vaccines, etc. I want administered during my pregnancy. While this may not be the case in all birth centers, I ensure it is an option at my center before choosing it. In the same way, many OBGYNs are open to these same options. Unfortunately, often times the practice or hospital they are involved with won’t allow for variation.

4.) I can take my daughter to my appointments with ease.  While, of course, it is easier to have Daddy along with us to keep her wrangled, it wouldn’t be a problem to take her myself.  She gets to be a part of the appointment and immediately yells, “heartbeat!”, “Baby Law!” as we drive up to the center.  Last week while I was in the bathroom and Daddy was gathering our things Miss Ryan took it upon herself to hop on the bed and grab the Doppler.  If Mommy has a heartbeat in her tummy then surely Miss Ryan does as well!  Don’t worry, her daddy only let her be long enough to take the picture.  We don’t advocate toddlers using medical equipment! 🙂

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As you can see, my crazy, crunchy, natural birth ways may not be so different from what is traditionally experienced at a standard OBGYN appointment after all. I can assure you, I receive excellent prenatal care and always have someone to contact in the event of an emergency or urgent question.

Do your standard appointments vary greatly from this? What is different about your experiences from what I mentioned here? Do you have any questions about midwife appointments that I didn’t answer here? Please share your thoughts.

5 thoughts on “A Look Inside a Prenatal Midwife Appointment

    1. hollibennett10@aol.com Post author

      You were so nervous about the idea of a birth center before you went with me to my consultation when I was pregnant the first time. After that, you were totally relaxed!

      Reply
  1. Nikki Goodale

    My appointments do not vary from this really at all except the pressure part of # 3. I refused the Tdap vaccine and received a little backlash from my OB about it she asked me every week if I was sure I did not want it even after I told her about how my husband had a very bad vaccine reaction to the DTP vaccine as a baby. She was saying it was safe and I told her well it is a class C drug and she did not respond to that. Finally I got a titer done on my own and brought it to her and showed her that it showed I had very high antibodies against pertussis, just to satisfy her. I also only let her do a vaginal check 1 time it was the day she also did the GBS swab and everything so I went ahead and let her. That was 4 weeks ago and she said I was dilated to a 1 and 75% effaced and she said “woah this baby’s head is so low!”. “We at least want her to make it to 37 weeks!” After that I told her I did not want to be checked again since I was not in labor and did not want to risk prematurely rupturing membranes or infection. She kept saying I have never caused anyone’s water to break accidentally in the office and still asked me every time and I declined. Well now I am 40.5 weeks and I went to the doctor yesterday and she asked if I was sure I did not want her to check me just to see where I was at? She acted like I could have her any minute 4 weeks ago after the 1 check! So obviously checking is not going to indicate when this baby is coming. I guess I said that all to say, I will be using a midwife and birthing center if I have another child. All my wishes have been carried out with this pregnancy because I make sure of it and I have had no complications everything has been very smooth and routine regarding me and the baby but I would rather have someone more like minded and supportive. She has agreed to let me go to 42 weeks before inducing, I told her since the beginning both of my sisters had their babies very close to 42 weeks and it is in my birth plan that I do not want to be induced unless there is some kind of complication. I got a sono yesterday because i’m late and everything was good. Plenty of fluid and everything, but i felt like she was searching for a reason to suggest inducing me earlier but could not find one..Her nurse even said well your blood pressure is still gorgeous I was looking for a reason to get you in the hospital! So hopefully the baby decides to come on her own soon. I want to avoid a medical induction like the plague! Sorry for the novel I just wrote with probably tons of typos!

    Reply
    1. hollibennett10@aol.com Post author

      Your reasons are exactly why I did not want cervical checks unless I asked. They just don’t really mean much. I think my mind takes over more if I KNOW exactly what is happening there. It can be super discouraging or falsely encouraging. This time, I’m just letting it ride. I just don’t care to know! I totally understand your desire to “avoid medical induction like the plague!” I would feel the exact same! As much as I’m sure you are ready for that baby to come, I imagine inductions to be very scary. At least for me. I’m glad your are doing so well! Best of luck to you on your labor and birth!

      Reply
  2. Amanda Patton

    Thank you so much for posting this. You know how much I value your opinion and love your writing. This just makes me feel that much better about choosing labor of love for our next child. I can’t wait for the birth story of baby Law.

    Reply

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