Saturday, April 21, 2012

Obstetrician/Doctor vs. Midwife: From A Vegan's Point of View

Now I'm not sure how it is in other provinces, but in Ontario, midwives are covered by OHIP. Which is nice because it gives moms-to-be options.

The Doctor

Before I say anything, doctors these days are generally more open minded about the holistic approach to health. I find where you live can largely impact just how many doctors think this way. Keep in mind I don't live in a rural area but definitely don't live in a city like Vancouver or Toronto.

My first prenatal appointment was with a nurse practitioner at my clinic and it was a train wreck. I had just had my pregnancy confirmed earlier that week and was still excited and some what in disbelief, that I was actually pregnant. I cried, I laughed and I cried some more when I found out. Not knowing how everything worked, I walked through the first few steps laid in front of me by my clinic.

They booked me in for my prenatal appointment after confirming the pregnancy. I went to that appointment and was asked a gazillion questions about family history and my lifestyle. I was handed a bunch of requisitions that weren't quite explained to me and handed over a couple vials of my blood.

It all seemed so...clinical. It didn't feel like the most amazing thing in my life was happening to me. It felt more like I had a disease that needed to be monitored instead. What was worse, the nurse threw this obscene statistic in my face that 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage! So now, I was giving my blood for God knows what tests and I was an emotional wreck because this woman put it in my head, that keeping this baby was a fifty/fifty chance.

I was around seven and half weeks pregnant when this happened, and the next few weeks after were probably the darkest weeks in my life. I feared every cramp and would check my panties for spotting every few hours. Looking back, that woman must have been one bitter b**** to say something like that to me.

Some may say she may have felt she was just doing her job but I made it clear that I WANTED this baby. The stress I went through from the fear in no way benefited me. What's worse, what she said wasn't even completely true. The statistic included unknown and chemical pregnancies, pregnancies in women over forty, etc. This number included every situation possible; situations that didn't apply to me. This is something I didn't know then and would have been nice to be included with the number she whipped at me.

*Side Note* Don't rely on Google too much for answers. People are motivated to share the stories with bad endings, not good ones. So you'll find a lot of what went wrong rather than right. Avoid the stress and always ask your doctor or midwife if you have any concerns. It'll save you the heart ache and worry. Stressing yourself is bad for you and your baby so avoid it!

The Midwife

Around two weeks after that nightmare appointment and about a week after finding out there was another option, I decided to start hunting for a midwife. Most clinics were booked in my city for my due date (reassuring but also frustrating). I had called the last option that was half an hour outside of town and I got the same answer, "We can put you on a waiting list."

I gave up and decided I would stick with the bitter nurse practitioner and wait and hope. An hour later, I got a call back from my last hope and was told they could, and would take me. I was nervous about switching but I felt it in my bones that I would regret it if I didn't.

My first appointment was night and day compared to my previous experience. The clinic was comfortable and no where near as clinical. The rooms where you meet with the midwife were set up almost like a living room. The first thing that was given to me was a folder filled with information on midwifery, pregnancy, and support numbers. I was walked through their philosophy and any tests I hadn't taken at that point were explained to me and thoroughly discussed with me so that I could understand what they were for. What was great was that I was told, that in the end, I was the ultimate decision maker.

Nothing is rushed, every one gets to know you and you get to know them. What I loved most is that I was told that "Pregnancy is a state of health." Sounds a lot less like the disease I was starting to feel I had after my first experience.

Bonus: You can't just page or call up your doctor when you have a concern. With a midwife, you have your midwife and the midwives in the clinic there to speak to you whenever you have a question or concern. I have my midwife's pager number. Do you have your doctor's?

In the End

My experience with the nurse practitioner may be an isolated case as I'm sure there are lots of doctors who are more personable and have better people skills. Still, midwives devote their health care profession to pregnancy and child birth. My advice is to give them both a try. As a "Pescatarian," I find they are more open to holistic medicine (midwifery is a holistic alternative in itself after all).
When I explained my dietary choices to the nurse she sort of just rolled her eyes, sighed and said she would have to set me up with a nutritionist. When I explained it to my midwife, she understood and stressed the importance of monitoring my diet. Two completely different attitudes. One being more supportive, the other more skeptical and exasperated with my choice. At my midwife clinic, I am respected as a decision maker and not just another patient who knows nothing. And I must say, it's kinda nice.

My advice is to give both a chance to see what's best for you. Just be careful, you can't see both at the same time. At least in Ontario, OHIP will only cover one primary care provider.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like some medical people would rather just deal with a belly instead of a patient who owns teh belly and talks and has questions. Pregnancy is such an exciting, and nerve wrecking thing all at sucks when you have a bad experience like you did with that nurse. I am totally relate. Where I am from, we don't have many or even any options if we want to give birth here. You don't get a regular doctor. it is whoever is on call the day you are giving birth who you get. It is awesome that you got in with the midwife. Sounds like it will really put a new light on your experience. Thanks for sharing!