|I mentioned the midwives a few times in my birth post, and I wanted to elaborate on them a bit.
Midwives seem to me to be simply women who have some experience with childbirth. They're sort of like older, wiser tribeswomen with experience doing the thing you're nervous about. They have a lot of experiential knowledge, and tend to have practical suggestions for things. Their methods tend to be less scientifically rigorous than I'd like, but sometimes you don't need proof to know that a certain treatment works for some people sometimes.
We went with midwives (certified nurse midwives, to be exact) instead of the traditional ob-gyn doctor route because Wendy felt more comfortable with them in general. The doctors were a little too clinical for her tastes, and she wanted more of a say in the actual birth process than a doctor would've allowed. Specifically she wanted the option of doing a water birth and possibly a home birth, which doctors typically aren't on board with. Also she didn't want a needle in her back.
My initial opinion of the midwife-sanctioned home birth was not positive. What if something goes wrong? What if they need to do emergency surgery? What if the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck or the baby gets stuck in the birth canal or the mother's blood pressure drops too low while delivering? There are like a billion legitimate reasons to not do a home birth.
But the midwives have a simple and interesting philosophy: Childbirth is a very natural process. The baby will come out of you whether you want it to or not. Yes it can be dangerous and deadly at times, but humans have been giving birth to babies since before we were technically humans. Nothing that happens during a childbirth is too much for a woman to handle. If it was, none of us would be here.
Modern medical practices have reduced infant and mother mortality by a ton, but some doctors are a little trigger happy. The rate of C-sections isn't uniform across the board; it depends what hospital you go to, or what state or country. A lot of the treatments during childbirth are linked to statistics: If you're not progressing at a certain rate by a certain time, they induce or cut you open. Also, by inducing childbirth with drugs or procedures, you're short-circuiting the body's ability to produce oxytocin and other chemicals that further help the process and reduce pain. I'm 100% not an expert on this stuff, so I'm a little out of my element, but the general outline makes some sense to me.
The midwives' guiding principle is that it's all about atmosphere. So everything they do, from using a tub, to talking quietly, to having calm lights and sounds, is to relax the person giving birth. There's no rush, as long as the labor is progressing at a medically reasonable rate (they measure mother's and baby's heart rate). The cervix is a sphincter, and that type of body part tends to tense up in stressful situations. So anything that can relax that muscle will allow the mother to relax, which will make the process begin and go smoothly. They mentioned an anecdote that many women start their labor on the toilet, because that's one of the few times they're alone and in a quiet environment. Wild animals tend to find a quiet, secluded place to give birth. Humans should be no different.
Even before the birth process and after the baby came out, their principles stay the same: Just relax about the whole thing. Still take it seriously, and do blood tests when necessary, and measure pulse and weight and whatnot. But just relax. I really like that entire worldview. #lifestyle