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February 10, 2011

She's Not A Witch Doctor

As some of you may have noticed from reading through the trivia in the Peanut Gallery series, one big change that has recently occurred in our household is that we're now seeing a midwife. Despite the open-mouthed reactions we've received upon breaking this news, let me assure you that she is a trained medical professional... not a witch doctor who will be birthing my child in a field of daises while chanting and sprinkling us both with goats' blood.

When I was pregnant with Nathaniel, I saw an OB for the entirety of my pregnancy. As I've explained to several people who've asked, I will always be grateful to her for safely delivering my son, but it wasn't the delivery we had planned, nor was it the delivery that I wanted.

I will be the first to admit that there are things that happen during the process of labor and delivery that cannot be predicted. There are times when intervention is not only good, but it is necessary for the survival of both mother and child, and those are the times when a solid birth plan needs to lit on fire and tossed out the window in favor of good ol' medicinal practice.

My labor? It wasn't one of those times. Prior to my water spontaneously breaking the day before my due date, my OB and I had endured a little heart-to-heart about interventions. We had agreed that we wouldn't do Pitocin unless it was absolutely necessary. But when the time came and I was in the hospital a mere two hours after my water had broken, I wasn't encouraged to get up and walk the halls; I wasn't given any options. The nurse came in and announced that they were starting a Pitocin drip to get things moving.

To be clear, I don't blame the hospital, nursing staff, or even my OB for encouraging interventions. In all honesty, I blame myself. As the mother, it was my responsibility to recognize that I was the advocate for myself and my child, but being the naive first-time mom, I didn't see that I had a choice. I truly didn't realize that I could've declined the Pitocin, I just assumed that somewhere out in the vast expanse of the hospital universe, there was some grand and all-encompassing reason why I needed that intervention.

And I went along with it.

I went along with the Pitocin. When the pain became too great, I went along with the Fentanyl. When the Fentanyl had no effect, I went along with the epidural.

Looking back, I wish I would have done things differently, but in the end, my son was born completely healthy and I wouldn't change that for all the happy labor memories in the world.

Now I'm pregnant again. I have a second chance and I'm going into it armed with a much different attitude and a better outlook on just how much vomiting I can expect during labor. Because it's so important to me to give my body a chance to do what it was meant to do, I made the decision not to go back to my OB. Instead, I did my research and found a midwife in our area who will deliver our second baby at a nearby hospital.

Even though I can't stop talking about how thrilled I am that I found someone who is not only on-board with my birth plan, but who is excited about helping me through a natural labor and delivering my child, I've been a little dismayed by the reaction I've received when I broke the news to a few people.

It was paramount to informing them that a witch doctor would be delivering my baby. Goats' blood and all.

It's true that most people haven't researched midwifery and hearing someone say that they aren't seeing a doctor provokes images of a prehistoric caveman-type birth. With my first pregnancy, I was one of those people. Even the thought of someone who had less than a full doctorate in medicine looking at my vagina during labor sent me into fits of sheer terror. Imagining an intern giving me an episiotomy in the heat of delivery? Panic attack and a paper bag.

After going through the hospital labor system once, I've grown up. I've moved past my preconceived notions that someone with an "M.D." following his or her name automatically makes that person the best candidate to deliver my child. This pregnancy is different. I've done the research and I couldn't be more happy and comfortable with my choice of provider. And let me assure you, there won't be any goats' blood at my delivery.


  1. I am so sorry your first birth didn't go as planned. I am glad you found a midwife that can deliver at a hospital though. My fear with midwives has always been, what happens when something goes wrong? But being at a hospital will ensure you and your baby's safety. I am blessed to have an OB that is a personal friend. She always shares her professional, medical opinion but listens to my wishes. Because I respect her so much, I usually take her advice, even if it contradicts what I had in my mind. I think the most important thing is that we have an open and trusting relationship with whomever will deliver our babies. After all, we are putting two lives in their hands!

    Jessica @

  2. Thanks, I'm glad I found a midwife too. Honestly, I'm not a great candidate for home birth and because of that, I'm more comfortable giving birth at a hospital anyway. Additionally, I think it's helped calm the fears of a few of the people who were particularly concerned about the whole concept of a "midwife birth." I'm glad you have a great relationship with your OB- I agree with you, in the end, an open and trusting relationship is really what counts so the mom and baby can have the best possible care!

  3. It's hard with the first one. You have no idea how things are going to go. I thought about going with a midwife with Garrett but then switched to a new OB and he is wonderful. I ended up being very happy with how my labor and delivery went. This is your birth, good for you for fighting to make it what you want! I hope finding a midwife for this pregnancy will help things to go more the way you would like them too! Good luck!

  4. Good for you! I too had a very medicalized birth the first time around and got caught up in interventions even though I went into the hospital not wanting them. I'm hoping to go with a midwife next time around. I think people are fearful of what they don't know. People like to trust doctors and anyone who questions the system is often looked at as the crazy one :)

  5. It's funny because our birth stories are very similar in some ways even though I did have a midwife during my labor/delivery. However, what made my experience so pleasant (even with the pitocin and epidural) was that my midwife gave me the option of waiting as long as I wanted before using those interventions. She was honest and encouraging when I opted for those in the end because of my condition and that is what made the difference! I loved my midwife and my birth experience (even with the nasty interventions) and am glad you get to try something different this second time around to make your experience better!

  6. Good for you for taking control - and for finding a midwife!

  7. i felt like i was reading my words here.
    i had my first 3 babies in a hospital setting, all with epidurals even though i went into it not wanting that situation.
    my last one was with a midwife, at a birthing center...and was amazing.
    i wish the best for you on this journey!