A few weeks after discovering this pregnancy I was contacted by a midwifery clinic letting me know that I was accepted for care. I was ecstatic. With my son I was on their waiting lists but never got in which turned out to be a great disappointment as far as birth experiences go. So I was relieved that I would have this care this time around. However, meeting with my assigned midwife would not go quite as planned.
After my first and only prenatal appointment with her, I left feeling apprehensive about the kind of care I would be receiving. She was a very friendly and bubbly person but some contradictory statements and evasive answering shook my trust in our relationship. It took me a few days to pinpoint why I was feeling concerned and needed to share with someone, so I got together with a pregnant friend of mine who also got on with the same midwife as me. It became apparent that we shared many of the same concerns, and combining our two experiences we were able to discern this midwife’s particular attitudes about birth and about midwifery care.
She had made it very clear that her focus is on keeping her license and that though she 'supports' informed choice, she will push for interventions that will protect her legally. Professionally I understand her paranoia about her licensing especially since she recently got privileges at a local hospital; however as a birthing woman I really don't give one whit about putting myself and my child at risk for her. Although I appreciated her eventual candor, it took much cross-questioning for this intention to come to light. Something that is firmly necessary in my relationship with my caregivers, is complete and transparent honesty, and this was already violated which bothered me. Now I thought that we could compromise with her simply being honest by indicating when her suggestions are more geared towards preserving her license so that we can find a way for me to decline (if it is my wish) while signing waivers or the like to also protect her. But the reality was that she would rather I trust her judgement and not question her, which I simply could not do.
Another point of contention was how she admitted that her focus was on my physical health during birth and not necessarily my emotional (which directly conflicted with a statement she had said earlier in the interview) and that she noticed how many birthing women think that they will get this kind of support from their midwives. It is this perception of her profession that also did not sit well with me either. Obviously the mind/body connection of a woman during labour directly affects her birth. For a midwife to say otherwise shows a lack of understanding about the birth process, which is unacceptable. Combined with some other questionable statements, I really worried about what my experience with her would be.
I felt so uneasy about what I picked up from our first interaction that I went online and sought out direct references of her care from women who birthed with her in attendance. I got many replies back, most of which indicating that they still had positive birthing experiences but that they did notice that she was particularly anxious about following protocols, rather than focusing on what the birthing mother and infant needed. This made me ill at ease because it was this exact situation I needed to avoid with this birth: having to discern honest medical need for interventions with outdated policies. It was for this very reason that I sought homebirthing instead of a hospital environment. But if I invite someone into my birthing space that functions on those licensing fears, I also invite conflict and stress, which is not welcome.
So because we started out with me not trusting her and seeking help publicly using online forums, she called me up and terminated our care. She told me she felt we did not have a working relationship. She did not even want to try building trust, like in any normal relationship, and just wanted to let me go. We did have an insightful talk about it but it really came down to her being hurt that she did not earn my trust, and was unable to deal with that emotionally. My husband felt that it was very unprofessional of her to be so sensitive, however I realise now that we really were not a good match because of our inherent beliefs about birth and about authentic relationships and I really could not risk having someone like that in my birth space this time around anyways. Everything happens for a reason.
For the first few days after being let go, I was distraught, crying every few hours as the reality sunk in that I would have to take my birth into my own hands once again. I did not want the responsibility and balked at having to deal with it. But as time went on, with the help of some very supportive friends and my doula, I soon became at peace with it. With much reflection I realised that I never wanted to hand over my birth to someone else, and was relying on midwifery care to assuage my fears about my previous birth rather than truly face them. But as I have been processing those very fears recently, my apprehensions about this upcoming birth have faded away and I feel more tranquil now than when I found out I had midwifery care. I no longer have to worry that my birthing needs will be respected and having to deal with the stress of the broken maternity care system.
I am still on the waiting lists for midwifery care in my city, but I feel like I no longer need it in order to have a good birth. My doula fully supports my choices and my family physician can handle all my prenatal needs (since I know what I want anyways). So now I am in the process of deciding which hospital will be my go-to in case of medical need but I am going about it in a very leisurely way. Right now my focus is on maintaining my health and addressing those needs so that my baby and I are both physically and emotionally well.
Have you ever had apprehensions about your birthing team? What did you do about it?