Thoughts on Our MIdwife

So, I’ve been having some… disappointments with our midwife.  And I just need to vent about it a little.  But I also need to state that she really was (and still is) our best option.

When we began looking for a midwife, I found that many of them were either already booked for our due date time, or were going to be gone on vacation (thank you Christmas).  The first midwife I could find to take me on made it clear, by stating several times that I should keep looking for a midwife and by telling me she could only be my midwife if I didn’t gain any weight, that she didn’t really want to be my midwife.  And I certainly don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t actually want to work with me.

So then I looked into a midwife with the local hospital.  We really want an un-medicated, natural, water birth. Getting that out of a hospital can be difficult, but I had heard good things about this one fairly close to us.  However, they only have 2 rooms with tubs to birth in, and there is no guarantee of getting one of those rooms.  And we still have to deal with nurses and doctors coming in and attempting to talk us into drugs, interventions and the doctor-friendly-flat-on-your-back birthing position.  (That is scientifically proven to be the most difficult and painful position to birth in because it closes your pelvis up to 20%)

That is when I found Midwife N.  And it seemed like the best solution.  She runs her own freestanding birthing center so we have all the positives of a home birth without the cleanup, or neighbors listening in (thank you apartment living!).  She has been a midwife for over 40 years, attended over 400 births.  And she exuded this calming, peaceful quality that made me instantly at ease.  However…

One of the things I’ve always been told is that with a midwife, you get longer appointments.  Your midwife really gets to know you, and you to know her.  It is a very personal relationship.  However… sometimes I feel like as far as my appointments go, I could be seeing any old doctor or midwife in the hospital medical system.  Without any exaggeration  my appointments are about 15 minutes long.  Here is how they go:
1-pee on a stick to check for preeclampsia. (Yay no protein in my urine!)
2-weigh myself.  (Some women may appreciate the privacy of weighing themselves… me, I kind of hate it.)
3-sit down and N asks “How are you?” to which I answer “Fine” or maybe “A little tired”  and then she says “Any questions?” to which I usually say “Nope.”  (But the truth is, since I’ve had no crazy bleeding or weird sensations, all I can do is assume I’m fine.  And I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be asking!  But how should I know? I’ve never done this before!)
4-N takes my blood pressure.  (Yay low blood pressure!  Not sure why, but I tend to have low blood pressure, which is a good thing.)
5-N moves me to lay down where she then listens to the heartbeat via the Doppler,
6-measures my uterus,
7-schedules our next appointment and sends me on my way.

Seriously, no more than 15 minutes.  Even Hubster mentioned to me that he was surprised how fast the appointments were, and had a lack of connection.  When I bump into her other patients from time to time in the waiting room, they always light up and gush about how much they love her, and this is their second/third/fifth baby with her.  I just can’t help feeling a little left out of the party or something.

When I do remember to ask questions, I feel like she always gives me the most concise answer possible.  It never turns into any sort of conversation.  Case in point, I decided to send her an email a yesterday with two questions.  Here is what I sent:

Hi N!
   It seems I always think of questions when I’m not there, so I thought that to avoid forgetting them I would email you!  I think it’s hard to come up with questions, because I’ve never done this before, I don’t know what I should be asking.  And with working full time, my free time and energy is pretty limited so I haven’t been reading my pregnancy books like I used to.  
   But one of my friends, who is a week or two behind me in her pregnancy, was talking about counting movements – should I be doing that?  And is there some special method for counting and keeping track?  Then I heard that we should be interviewing pediatricians, but I’m not really sure where to start.  Are there any you recommend that take the state health insurance?  I know we are going to want to find someone willing to do a delayed immunizations schedule, ideally someone with an appreciation for mixing western and homeopathic medical views.  It seems like in an attempt to ask parents to recommend someone, all I ever hear is “Oh, don’t use our pediatrician, s/he’s not very good but it’s too much effort to find a new one now.”  So any thoughts you have on this would be really great!
Thank you so much!

And this is what she sent back:

Hi Tulip,
Thanks for your note.  The best way to find a pediatrician is 1)personal referral, and 2)interview.  You might want to consider alternative providers, although most don’t take Medicaid.   Most recent research indicates that fetal movement counts are not effective, and probably unnecessary, although they may help you be more in touch with the activities your baby is doing inside, and there’s certainly value to that!
See you soon.

Um…. I already said that all my mom friends wouldn’t refer me to their pediatricians.  So personal referral is out.  I was hoping that SHE would have some ideas, since so many of her clients are repeat clients, wouldn’t she have heard about who’s an awesome pediatrician?  And the movement counts, ok, questions answered… but again, it’s the briefest answer possible.


Now that I’m in the third trimester I will be going in every two weeks, so maybe that will help us to find more to connect on, by seeing each other more frequently?  Any thoughts?


13 responses to this post.

  1. I am sorry that you feel you don’t have the best relationship with her. And while I don’t know her situation, is it possible she’s really busy because of all the other doulas not being able to work? Perhaps mention your feelings to her. Is there something she is holding back?

    As for the pediatrician, we found ours through my GP. I knew she had kids, and I wanted to get her recommendation. While her children’s pediatrician wasn’t available, her partner’s was. I would try (customer reviews) or calling around to local children’s businesses that you like. Often people who work in children’s toys/books/clothing/diapering have great recommendations for that sort of thing.

    Good luck!! I hope the situation improves!


    • OH YA! I love yelp! Why didn’t I think of that??? I got on there and in 5 minutes found one with great reviews that sounds like could be a good fit, I called for a meet’n’greet and they got me in TOMORROW! That’s really exciting 🙂

      I do think that compared to other midwives N takes on a larger client base, and she limits her appointment days to 2 days out of the week (which I can completely understand since she’s catching babies pretty much every day in between!) It may be that we just don’t have the “natural connection” that some people have, and you either have it or you don’t. I do not think in any way that she isn’t good at her job, and I feel confident that she will be amazing when we are delivering. I feel very safe. She had the experience to know the warning signs if we do need to transfer to the hospital for a medical intervention, but of course she is super supportive of the birth plan we are hoping for.


  2. No advice when it comes to your midwife as I’ve never had a baby but reading your post, the first thing that popped into my mind was, have you considered a doula? Not that they will replace a midwife, but it could allow you to form a connection with someone who has experience at births and will be there along side you. There are really low cost (sometimes free!) doulas. I’m a doula in Seattle and there are so many who do sliding scale. Try if you’re interested!


    • Hi Peachy! We did consider a doula, and would very much love to have one. But I found that many were already booked, or were just beyond our budget. I’ve heard of some doulas doing their work for free, but for all the time and energy a doula puts into her work, I felt embarrassed to ask around about free doulas. (Ok, more I felt like a shmuck and an ass hat to be more accurate). I have so much respect for what you do, I didn’t want to offend anyone. What we decided to end up doing was asking my best friend Jewel (who I have known since elementary school) to be there and act as a pseudo-doula. While she may know little about babies and childbirth she is pretty much an expert on knowing me, and we have had numerous talks about our hopes and fears, and we even had a “birthing documentary” mini marathon a few weeks ago. So I think that I’ve done all that I can to be surrounded by love and support at the time of labor.


      • That’s fantastic you have your friend! I was my sister’s “doula” before I did the actual training and it was an amazing experience. Just so you know, though, many doulas are eager to support less financially well off women and offer free or almost free services. Also, doulas-in-training typically volunteer at hospitals because they need a certain amount of births before their certification, so don’t feel bad about asking!

      • AND consider asking if anyone who’s a busy doula knows of a student looking for experience, if you decide you want a doula too. We had a doula in training when the kid was born who was amazing and we paid her by writing a really nice letter of reference and then a birth story for her website now that she’s certified/taking paying clients.

  3. This was my concern when going on the Search a few weeks back – that I’d find someone professionally good but that I just didn’t click with. And I think birth is such a uniquely personal and vulnerable experience – you wouldn’t have just *anyone* there, would you, especially not someone you don’t click with, that I think its really important.

    And it happens – one that I pretty much would have booked from word-of-mouth and website/philosophy I felt much different about in the flesh – not that there was anything wrong with her per se, everyone was gushing about her – but I just got the distinct feeling we would rub each other up the wrong way. Maybe we would, maybe we wouldn’t: you can’t *unfeel* things though.
    I guess the doula advice from peachy above is worthwhile – you would get more one-on -one time.

    Could be that 400 births gets you pretty much like an automaton – I guess she’s probably seen it all by then.


    • Even if midwife N and I aren’t super-clicking, I do think she is better than changing and going with a provider at the hospital. And between Hubster and Jewel there to support me I think the birth will be as good as I can hope for. I wish we had the money to hire a doula, but we just don’t. (Hubster and I seem to be having numerous conversations katly about how we can trim the budget and handle out money better because there are some days that I feel like we epically fail at money management, and we are going to soon have a very expensive third person in our lives!)


      • Haha I hear ya sistah! Belt-tightening – always soul destroying. Our current is how much shit we need to clear out to amalgamate 2 rooms into 1. Mr Stinky wants to throw out precisely zero that belongs to him. Even though he’s got 1/2 wardrobe-full of crap that he never uses – we’re talking VHS tapes and CD’s – we don’t even have a TV let a long a video recorder.

        Two birthing partners? You lucky!

        Yeah, sounds like its worth sticking with N – you have the experience and professional component which is what this relationship is mainly about. Clicking is bonus.

  4. Honestly, my midwife appts were super fast as well. I tried to think of it as a blessing b/c I was low risk and had no issues or questions, so there just wasn’t much to talk about. There were 5 midwives in the practice, and one that I connected with more (who was the one on-call when Stella was born!), but really, the appts were quick.

    Also – my midwife mentioned kick counts if I wanted, but she also said it just makes most moms MORE nervous b/c they don’t necessarily NOTICE the kicks when they’re busy at work, and then they freak out. If you’re worried, stop and lay down for a FULL hour and be calm, focused, and count. Otherwise, try not to worry about it.

    Good luck finding a peds docs – recommendations of friends was how we found ours. Maybe ask ppl at church as well?


    • It’s good to know I’m not alone in quick visits. It probably is because everything has been so textbook perfect, and I am so grateful for that, but it does mean there is less to talk about.

      Good idea about asking around the church, will have to do that if none of my current interviews click!


  5. I agree with the previous comments about looking into a doula. I know you said you researched it and couldn’t find one in a price range you were comfortable with, but did you search for doulas in training? They have to attend a certain number of births before they can start charging… Our doula just recently finished her trainings so she was a bit cheaper than other doulas in our area–and thankfully I liked her more than the other, more experienced, doulas I interviewed… If you’re not clicking with your MW, having a doula may be the way to go to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your labor and delivery.

    Have you voiced your concerns to your MW? Maybe she just doesn’t take time to connect with her patients until you get toward the end? IDK…


    • My hope is that between Hubster and Jewel I will feel comfortable and surrounded by love and support. I probably should bring it up with N, but I’m not really sure how to go about that. I thought I had referenced it in my email when I talk about not really knowing what to ask, but that wasn’t super direct.

      I’m just not sure how to look at someone and say “So, you’re really great, but I just don’t feel like we’re connecting…” it sounds like the beginning of some “it’s not you, it’s me” break-up speech. I feel like if I bring it up, I should offer some ideas on how to connect, but I’m drawing a big ol’ blank. It’s not like we’re going to go on some ropes-course trust-building exercise. And the fact is, I DO trust her. I just don’t feel particularly close with her. I wish we could sit down in a cafe over tea and chat about random things, but obviously we are both too busy for something like that. ^shrug^ I’ll see how this next appointment goes next week…


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