water birth

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.