Julia A. Keith Julia.A.Keith at DARTMOUTH.EDU
Fri Apr 21 07:10:24 EST 1995

All three of my children were delivered by midwives (in the late 70s, early
80s).  Two were delivered in a large teaching hospital under the supervision of
a doctor, as that was the only legal way to have a midwife attend in
Massachusetts at the time.  The youngest was born in the early 80s in a midwife
center across the street from a hospital.  This was by and far the best birth

I chose midwives because all the ones I met had already had children of their
own, and the ability to empathize during labor was a big factor.  The male
doctor that described labor as bad menstral cramps should be forced to have
children himself.  No midwife ever trivialized it for me.  I imagine a female
obstetrician might be almost as good as a midwife, but there's something I like
about not treating birth as medical intervention, but as a natural process.

  If you go with midwives, there are no drugs, so you need someone who'll 1)
understand what you're going through  2) Try and help you be as comfortable as
possible (I've never met a doctor who even CARED about this) and 3) Is
knowledgeable and confident enough that you can trust her judgement.  This last
one is key. All of the midwives I dealt with (6 over the course of 3 births)
saw birth as a wonderful, but strenuous natural experience, not a medical
procedure, and that colored the experience in a positive way.   But they all
had extensive training and knew what was a sign that intervention was
necessary.  Still, they didn't panic.  With my first, the doctor on supervision
pressured them for over an hour to intervene with forceps (I think he wanted to
go back to bed) but they held him off and the baby arrived just fine.
 Although I had an episiotomy with the first two births because it was hospital
policy, I didn't with the third and I strongly reccomend you avoid this
procedure if you can.  It becomes one more stress on your body.

I chose the birthing center for the third one over a home delivery because it
was set up like a home (bedrooms, a kitchen and living room, private bathrooms)
but I didn't have to deal with the mess afterwards, and I didn't have to worry
about the older children  (I only stayed 4 hours after the birth so I was home
soon after).  But the hospital was right next door if there was a problem.  I
also think the youngest was better adjusted from the beginning, because the
hospital routines of bright lights all night, many other babies, and seperation
from Mom were never a part of her experience.  She slept 3-4 hours at a stretch
from the day she was born, and has always had a cheerful sunny disposition. 
Whether this is genetic or a result of her birth experience, I'll never know,
but I've always suspected the latter.

whew!  Now that they're all teenagers, I'm surprised I still have such strong
feelings about midwife assisted birth.  If you medically can-my opinion is-by
all means go for it.

Julia Keith

More information about the Womenbio mailing list