Thursday, November 1, 2012

Doctors, Midwives and Doulas, Oh My!

So if you have a doctor and you love them, congratulations! You have one less headache to worry about. But if you haven’t made your selection yet for who’s going to, you know, deliver the baby… Get on that train and make a decision ASAP. You’re going to want to have a feel for this person who’s going to be a familiar face in a medically sterile environment. Did I mention they’ll also be up close and personal in your privates any day now?
I know this is weird, but I didn’t know where to start…. so I looked on Yelp for a doctor. Call me crazy, but every woman I knew who had a doctor was either a high paid attorney (who didn’t mind dropping several grand on a new purse) or my blessed family who haven’t seen a maternity doctor in, well, years.  I wanted to see what others had to say about the top rated OB/GYN’s  in my area. I found several and one in particular who worked at Swedish Medical Center, the hospital that delivers more babies than any other in my state. She had top marks from everyone and I mean everyone. That’s a rare feat in Yelp. When EVERYONE thinks you’re the bees knees, it’s probably because you are. Unfortunately with my estimated due date, they didn’t want to over schedule her so I made my number two selection and set up an appointment.
This doctor was fabulous. She was so kind, and sincere. She answered all of my questions and made me feel right at home. Of course my husband was a little unprepared for a vaginal and breast exam that happened right there in the little room. He found himself a little horrified at the vaginal exam (they do open you up with steal tongs) and justifying the breast exam because she was pretty and that made it ok for a doctor to touch me like that (I laughed the whole way home). But in general we really loved our doctor. She was a little pricey and we had this moment where we weren’t sure if we could afford to keep her so we looked at other options.
My sister was the one who turned me onto midwives. She had both of her kids before she and I were sisters (marriage is a fabulous thing). She was young enough to not know there were options beyond a sterile room and a doctor. What is a birthing center? Well she told me. It’s just like a regular doctors office, but it costs a little less and if you so choose some midwives will even deliver in the comfort of your own home. So I looked at that very same Swedish Medical Center had a Midwifery clinic in their ever so much more chill Ballard Hospital. Win.
But I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I mean, switching from a Doctor to a midwife is a big deal. And I really, really liked my doctor.
Then the standardized testing started.
What the Halo?!
I understand there are some basic questions that you will be asked when getting to know your doctor so that they can also get to know your medical history to give you the best possible care available based on your personal biology. When was the first day of your last period? Have you ever used elicit drugs? Do you look both ways when crossing the road….?
But some of the tests are rather scary and can really put things in perspective for you. Some of these tests are there for standard medical preparation. Others are there for the comfort of the family, i.e. if you want to have as close to a perfect baby and ONLY if it’s a perfect baby, there’s a test for that. The only problem is that if you’re uncomfortable with the tests in any way, the pressure to take them can make pregnancy a burden and not the joyous time it’s supposed to be.
As I mentioned in my blog about perfect children, the choice is up to you. I still don’t entirely know what a doula is, but I’m betting you have a new age friend who can explain it to you better than I can with a Google search. Suffice it to say we chose a Midwife and haven’t looked back. They have been wonderful at Swedish Midwifery and Women’s Health.
When I compare the two, I liked my doctor, but I love my midwives (yes plural, there’s a team of them!) and I’m glad that I live in an age when choice is the staple of our time.