So I had my first prenatal today (other than having met with the midwife at a consultation to introduce her to my husband and make sure he was comfortable with her). It was nice because I got to hear the baby's heartbeat. I also found out that my extreme fatigue lately has been caused by anemia, something I get at some point with every pregnancy. I am very happy with the midwife I found after the one who attended Miriam's birth moved to Mexico a few months ago.
Having a homebirth midwife is entirely different from having an OB/GYN. For one, when you get to the appointment, the midwife is waiting for you rather than the other way around. An appointment takes 30-60 minutes, but I have had some that lasted longer than that if we were in a chatting mood. Over the course of the pregnancy, the midwife becomes a close and trusted friend, rather than an intimidating medical professional. The midwife considers it an honor to be invited to attend the birth, rather than making the mother feel that a healthy birth is only possible if the parents relinquish all medical authority to the omniscient physician.
Many studies have been conducted on the safety of home vs. hospital birth. If you follow this link you can find a conclusive list of all those studies and read the results for yourself. Personally, I have never understood the typical American mentality that doctors are all wonderful and great. This may very well stem from the national health care that I grew up with in Communist Hungary as a child, and the terrible care I received there. Which, by the way, is exactly where we are headed in this country. Anyone in favor of government health care should talk to members of the military and find out how well they like the care they are provided by Uncle Sam.
Anyway, after our first child was born in the hospital, I wasn't too keen on going back there with our second. My plans for a home birth were met by a lot of skepticism by both my husband and his family. My husband was afraid I would bleed to death, since I had hemorrhaged at the hospital. His family made it pretty clear that they thought it would be my fault if the baby died during a home birth. Like doing what women have done for hundreds, yea thousands of years had suddenly become a risky undertaking because a bunch of male doctors in the 19th century decided that all women should disrobe in front of them rather than another woman in order to have a baby. Well, I am happy to report that my husband has been nothing short of a homebirth activist since our 2nd child was born at home, as were 2 more children after that. I am fairly confident that 2 of those 3 births would have ended in a C-section had I given birth at the hospital. I am not at all saying that moms who have a C-section are bad moms, but I just prefer not to undergo such a major surgery unless it is really necessary.
But safety concerns aside, a birth at home is also much more enjoyable. No more wondering whether it is time to go to the hospital, and being worried about getting turned away. You can eat and drink whatever you want. You are in a comfortable, familiar environment. No interns are popping their head in your room every few minutes. No fighting with them that no, they can't do an internal exam on you, especially not all these men. Did you know that they have to get a certain number of each procedure done in order to complete their internship? You can relax in the comfort of a birthing pool rather than putting drugs in your and the baby's system by way of an epidural. Something I consider recreational drug use, since it is in no way medically necessary unless you are having a C-section.
During labor, the midwife is hanging out with the family, maybe knitting a hat for the new baby or telling funny stories from other births. She may be cooking a meal to eat after the birth or brewing some tea to bring on the mom's milk. When labor is getting hard, she is there to encourage rather than supervise.
After the birth, the baby never leaves your side. No warming bassinet, shots, blood tests, eye drops etc. The baby is measured and weighed on the bed next to mom and dad, once they have all had a chance to get to know each other. The midwife will then "clean up the mess", which is actually not much at all, and tuck mom and baby into the freshly made bed. Siblings can meet their new brother or sister almost immediately after the birth. The whole atmosphere is very quiet and relaxed. No flashing diodes, beeping monitors, bright floodlights etc. Recovery is much easier and faster, too.
If you are pregnant or hoping to get pregnant, you should definitely look into home birth as a safe alternative to a hospital birth.