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How It All Began

It was finally Friday – time for my next OB appointment. I always looked forward to my appointments – I was excited to be pregnant and wanted an update on my baby girl.

I took the stairs up to the third floor – gotta get that exercise – and checked in. After calling me back, a nurse checked my heart rate, blood pressure, and weight and then led me into a little exam room like normal.

A doctor came in that I’d never met before. (The practice employed 7 different doctors.)

He introduced himself then handed me a bottle of red kool-aid-looking liquid and said that at my next appointment I would be doing the glucose test. I’d heard of that – “Oh yes, so they can check if I have gestational diabetes,” I thought, and I took the bottle from him.

“There’s instructions on the bottle,” he said. “Let us know if you have any questions.” Then I got up on the exam table so he could check the baby’s heartbeat. We listened for a few seconds, and that was that. Off he went to see the next patient and I headed home. 

I Decided to Make a Change

“Well, that was lame,” I thought.

Now don’t get me wrong; I loved hearing the baby’s heartbeat – it was the one thing that made it feel anywhere close to real that I had a little human growing inside of me – and I was grateful that these visits assured me every few weeks that my baby and I were safe and healthy.

I was, however, disappointed and, honestly, a little frustrated that no one spent time being excited with me. No one treated me like being pregnant for the first time was a big deal. No one took the time to explain things I didn’t even know to ask about.

I didn’t just want attention, and I knew I didn’t need extra medical attention, but this happened every time – they checked my vitals, listened to the baby’s heartbeat, and sent me on my way. No education on what to expect the next several weeks, no real personal interaction or connection.

So I decided to make a change. And that change changed my life.

Finding a Midwife

For the first time, I started to consider alternatives to giving birth in the hospital with a doctor and the typical medical interventions.

I still didn’t know much about different childbirth options so I began researching and learning what I could online. I found an article about the four best midwives and birthing centers near me.

I read about each and felt drawn to one midwife in particular. Her website said she did mostly home births, and frankly, the idea of doing that was still really out of my comfort zone. 

I was just looking for a care provider who would take the time to chat and help me answer questions, both those I had and those I didn’t even know to ask. 

But I still felt drawn to her more than anyone else I came across, so my husband, Nate, and I decided to schedule a free consultation with her the day after Christmas.

We talked for almost two hours.

The midwife, Amy, explained her background and experience and how she practices. Her openness and relaxed demeanor gave us a chance to ask lots of questions. That was huge for me because I walked away with more answers than I had questions when walking in. 

During that conversation, Amy said that most of her clients choose to have water births. She also said that she, who experienced both an epidural and a water birth, said that a water birth is almost as good as an epidural. So I figured, “Why not? Maybe I’ll try it.”

As soon as we left, Nate and I agreed that we liked her. We especially liked that she shared our faith and that we could trust her to follow inspiration from God when it came to caring for me and our future daughter, especially during labor and birth.

When we got home, we knelt down and prayed about the decision to hire Amy and, therefore, the decision to give birth at home without medication. As we did, we felt that for us and for this pregnancy, that was the best choice.

So I called my OBGYN and officially transferred care.

Education and Effort

Now, if you’re thinking I’m crazy right about now, remember that I, just a few months prior, would have thought the exact same thing. I remember saying at least a few times before getting pregnant that, “If there’s something that can take the pain away, why on earth would I not take advantage of that,” sure that I’d get an epidural when I had babies.

But I had never taken the time to learn about home births – or hospital births for that matter.

Switching from a hospital birth to a home birth was only the beginning.

I had made my decision but I still didn’t feel ready. I wanted to do everything in my power to avoid complications and prepare my body and mind for a great labor experience. For the next three months, I read everything I could on my own and took long lists of questions to Amy.

Nate and I also took Amy’s Bradley Method childbirth class. There are so many reasons we’re grateful we took the class, but one of the main reasons was that it helped Nate learn how to support me during pregnancy, labor, and birth, so much so that he was my coach and only support person through the first three-fourths of labor. 

As part of the class and prenatal care with Amy, I wrote down everything I ate and tracked how much protein I was getting in my diet. I also did specific exercises and stretches that focused on the muscles and tissues involved in labor.

I wasn’t perfect in any of my efforts to educate my mind or prepare my body, but every effort I did make was crucial in having the wonderful birth experience that I did.

Yes, giving birth – giving life – is hard work, but when someone asked me just a few days later if I would do it just the way I did it all over again, my immediate response was, “Absolutely!” And that’s what I want for everyone. 

—Allison

P.S. You can read my birth story here.