Anyone else out there have physician anxiety? See, I have issues with doctors. And hospitals. And needles, and tests, and being poked and prodded and talked down to and charged an arm and a leg for it. I have avoided professional medical help with great success pretty much my whole life. I don’t even like taking medication for things as simple as cramps or a headache, preferring the whole “walk it off” method. Pain builds character, right? Thankfully, I have a fairly high tolerance for it – as long as it’s natural pain, that is. I’m honestly not sure where this lack of trust in physicians springs from, but it wasn’t making me any more thrilled about this journey to birth. Then, of course, there are all these lovely stories to read on the internet. I hadn’t really been having any random “meltdowns” or anxiety attacks since I got back to land, but I did have two enormous ones after reading stories: first, of multiple women being mistreated by their OBGYNs, and second, of deaths caused by preeclampsia. If you could have a baby without ever once seeing a doctor, I would do that.
Actually, you can. And I did.
Okay, technically, I had several sessions with a chiropractor (my mind equates that more with getting a massage since it feels so good to me), but no OBGYNs, no MDs, no DOs, nothing along those lines. I chose to go an entirely different route. And yes, I did wait until my seventh month of pregnancy before getting any prenatal care. Here’s a question for you: what’s the point of going any earlier? Since I had no prior health complications and nothing surprising or worrying had occurred since conception, I saw no reason for consulting a healthcare professional. In fact, I only forced myself to start looking for one because I wanted to find out the baby’s sex.
When month six rolled around, and I visited the adoption agency for the first time, I was given the names of a few doctors I could go see. I made an appointment with one simply because I wanted that ultrasound, planning to make an official choice on prenatal care later. On the morning of the appointment, I got a call saying the doctor was out sick and we would have to reschedule. However, since I was about to be on a cruise for two weeks and didn’t know my work schedule after my return, I opted to wait before setting a new appointment. What a blessing… I ended up never seeing that doctor.
Instead, when I got back, I looked up the independent birthing center again and made the official choice to use their facility. Attached to that was the obvious choice to use a midwife instead of a doctor, one of the best decisions I made in my pregnancy. After the first midwife I contacted told me she was booked solid for my estimated due month, I sent a message to two midwives who worked together out of an office very near me. I was a little afraid they wouldn’t take me simply because I was already so far along (turns out they will take clients even at the last minute if everything works out), but to my relief, they asked me to come in for a consultation right away.
I immediately felt so comfortable with them. My last fears were washed away as they discussed every detail of their methods, what testing was available, why it was recommended, and what supplements I should take for healthy upkeep. Since I was heading into my third term, they went ahead and combined a first check-up. I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time, which was… unexpected. Though I remained pretty unemotional in the moment, I ended up crying for “no reason” later that day, much to my poor boyfriend’s confusion. He took it like a champ.
Here’s why I loved choosing midwifery: Throughout my entire experience, I felt in control of my body, my pregnancy, and my delivery. Everything was suggested to me, explained to me, recommended to me, but never forced on me. Exams were simple, respectful, and non-invasive. They would even ask my permission to touch my stomach before feeling for the position of the baby. In my entire prenatal care, I had only one ultrasound and two blood draws, and when they needed a vaginal swab, I retrieved it for them myself. Gone was that image of sitting on a hard table in a paper gown in a cold, sterile room waiting for a doctor to have time for you. Again, everything was my decision, and I was always fully informed. I never felt uncomfortable or violated or confused, and that continued right through my birth into post-partum care.
I also loved working with my adoption agency through this process. They have been around for something like 125 years, yet I was their first client (I assume in modern times at least) to request the use of a midwife and birthing center. Despite having no prerequisite for my case, they did anything and everything necessary to accommodate my wishes. Similarly, the midwives were super open and accepting of my somewhat strange situation, offering to forward any paperwork the agency needed, to meet with the adoptive parents separately or with me, and to handle any abnormalities in my payment method. There was a constant positive and encouraging atmosphere that made it a pleasure having all of these people in my life and with me on this journey.
I’m certainly not going to say that midwives and birthing centers are for everyone. That’s never been and will never be my point here. But if you have physician anxiety like I do, can’t stand the hospital atmosphere, or just want a more natural, hands-off approach to your pregnancy and delivery, I want you to know that there are options out there for you. Safe options, I might add (some research has shown that delivering in a hospital can often add to the number of risks rather than subtract). I also really hope that no one ever feels they are limited in their options because they are utilizing adoption for their baby – even though you will not be raising it, you are still in charge of your baby – and your body – during this time, and you have the right to decide what kind of healthcare you want. Ultimately, you should feel safe and comfortable with your choice, whatever it may be. I certainly did, and it made all the difference in my journey.