prenatal care with home birth midwives

Never did I ever think when trying to make a baby that it would result in so many doctors appointments! As soon as I found out I was pregnant I messaged my neighbor’s midwife to reserve a spot on her home birth calendar, unfortunately (even though I wasn’t even four weeks along yet) she was already booked with return mamas.

I waited until I was nearly done with my first trimester to do my first doctor visit. I had terrible morning sickness and didn’t want to go anywhere or make decisions, but when I came down with a cold too, I knew it was time.

Defeated, I made an appointment through my insurance with an obgyn.  I did some research so I’d know what to expect. I threw up multiple times while my husband drove us to the appointment, and once in the hospital parking lot. By the time I got checked in and was in the waiting room I’d pretty much reached my limit of human interaction, decision making, and being out in public. But the main event hadn’t even begun yet.  After over a half hour in the waiting room of trying to sit still and keep my insides inside, a nurse called me to see the doctor. She took one look at me and asked what was going on. “I’m super nauseous,” I told her. She had me get on a scale and walked me to a tiny white room where she had me undress completely and cover up with a paper blanket and bib. If it was possible I was even more miserable than when I had entered the office.

The nurse practitioner was super nice. She also noticed I was looking pretty sick. She did the whole breast check and speculum thing and then performed a transvaginal ultrasound. Seeing our little blob and hearing his heartbeat was absolutely amazing, but also a bit hard to fully enjoy lying naked, legs spread, in front of a stranger. Afterwards the nurse recommended a trip to urgent care for some IV fluids. She wrote me a prescription for nausea medication and told me to schedule appointments every four weeks through April. I could barely stand up let alone schedule six months worth of appointments so we took the prescription and went back home.  A couple weeks later we received a bill for several hundred dollars.

After the morning sickness wore off I started to do more research. I still really wanted to do a home birth, but had no idea what the process was like. I started by calling every midwife on google and yelp in San Diego. I asked a ton of questions and set up consultations with those who I liked.  Just from those calls I was pretty sure I knew who I wanted, but after the interviews I was certain who I wanted to hire. I knew my current insurance wouldn’t cover any out-of-network services, so I spent all of December calling different insurance companies to see what birth costs I could get help with. Medicare, Medical, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Anthem, etc etc etc. Not a single provider would take my case, so my husband and I decided to pay out of pocket.  It was a difficult decision but knowing the price up front really helped us decide. Even with my insurance they couldn’t tell me exactly how much it would cost to have a baby. It was all confusing talk of deductibles and out-of-pocket minimums and copays.

From the very first appointment things at the midwife were very, very different than at the traditional doctors office.  Even though the midwife’s office was further away (about forty minutes, instead of the minutes away) it already seemed more convenient. The office was in a cute little house downtown. We walked in and were immediately greeted by who our appointment was with.  The overall vibe was very chill. We’d go back and sit on a couch in a private room. There was no hustle and bustle. We had an hour to discuss whatever our concerns were. While taking my medical history during our first appointment my midwife made some life changing recommendations to my diet to help with feeling light headed. I’d been to the doctors for the same thing (not pregnancy related at all) multiple times in the past. I’d done EKGs and blood work and got no help for my condition in the past. In one appointment with my midwife a lifelong problem had been solved.

Our next appointment was a with a different midwife at the same office. We made it a point to schedule with each woman at the practice so we were familiar with them all. Each individual had different holistic advice to offer. They complimented each other’s skills and made me feel so comfortable.

At the end of every appointment I’d lay down on the couch and we’d feel where my baby was and listen to his heartbeat. Then we’d take my blood pressure and I’d be on my way until our next appointment.

When I got yet another cold (three so far this pregnancy) I was able to call and get right through to a midwife. Instead of a z-pack she recommended facial steaming, essential oils, and a neti pot. If I absolutely needed it, she said to take a Benadryl. I was feeling better in a couple days and felt at ease with the recommendations instead of feeling like I needed to google everything for a second opinion (like with the nausea medication).

I still went to my network hospital for some testing since it was covered under insurance, but found myself willing to pay for tests at my midwife’s because often times they were more affordable as well as healthier. For example, I was able to drink a natural fruit smoothie with 50 grams of sugar in it for my gestational diabetes test instead of having to down an artificially colored and flavored glucose concoction.

They offered a couple of group appointments too. It was cool to meet other moms due around the same time as me.  They were a wealth of information and my midwives weren’t threatened when they recommended a chiropractor’s diastasis workshop or a birth dancing class. In fact, before I even could pull out my phone to note the information my midwife handed me a piece of paper with the name of the doctor and the workshop. I love that!
I’m not sure if many first time moms choose a homebirth. Everyone I’ve spoken to has had the assembly-line hospital birth before choosing something different for their subsequent child. If I was gearing up for a hospital birth I’m sure I wouldn’t feel nearly as empowered as I do now. I’ve gained so much knowledge and have been surrounded by so many like-minded people that I’m looking forward to my birth experience.

What was your prenatal care experience like? Have you ever considered a home birth? Make sure and come back next week for the next post in my home birth series. In the meantime, if I left anything out or there’s anything else you want to know about my experience with my midwife group, please don’t hesitate to Ask a Bestie!