Pregnancy is a wild, exciting, and mysterious ride. You have questions, worries, and more questions and worries. As a midwifery grad and prenatal educator, there are a few of these I hear all the time, over and over again from every kind of client. Here is my list of the top 5 things that your midwife wants you to know.
You shouldn’t be so excited about that ultrasound
“When is the ultrasound that I can find out the sex of my baby?”
This is the question that makes me twitch. I know what you mean, of course. I know that you are asking about the second trimester anatomic ultrasound and I know when it will happen. The thing is – the point of this ultrasound is not to find out the sex of your baby. People often think of this as a ‘fun’ ultrasound, as a exciting and joyous occasion to count down to. And every time, I have to be Boohoo Betty.
The truth is this ultrasound is a form of genetic screening, just like the ones you may have done earlier in your pregnancy with bloodwork and urine sample. The purpose of these tests is to find anomalies or abnormalities with your baby. Of course the hope is that all is well – all the organs are where they should be, there are the right number of fingers and toes, that the brain is the right size. Chances are this is exactly what will happen. And, yes, they will also check out your baby’s bits. The danger of approaching this ultrasound from the ‘what sex is my baby’ angle is that it becomes easy to forget the real reason it’s happening.
What if you are bouncing up and down from the excitement of finding out what genitals your baby has and are then told that he or she has a cleft palate, or something more serious? You will be utterly unprepared. The effect of this can be shock, heartache, confusion, even devastation. I am not telling you to expect the worst. I am saying it is so important that you go into this ultrasound understanding it’s purpose.
You are stronger than you know
Sometimes in life, we want to be weak and we want to be coddled and that’s ok. (See: Abundance Shaming). Labour is not one of those times. Don’t get me wrong – it is so important to be supported and loved when you are in labour. But, it is NOT a time where you can indulge yourself in being fragile. Sweet lady, you are strong and your strength goes deep. You need to know that. You need to own that. If you find yourself thinking (or saying) that you can’t do this, you need to shut that shit down because your body hears everything you say and everything you think. If you have a moment or ten when you feel like weeping and you feel like you can’t go on, dig down. Dig down deep, my friend. You are a fierce, powerful woman. Billions of women before you have done this and you have the support and love of all of them behind you, above you, and around you. Even if you are soft and dependent and weak in other aspects of your life this, THIS, is your time to be strong and deep. You are woman.
We don’t give a shit if you poop
Everyone is so worried that they might poop when they’re pushing, that it will be embarrassing to poop in front of their partner and their care providers. I have to tell you something – everyone in that room poops too. Yes, they likely do it in private but no one else in that room is trying to push a human being out of their vagina at that moment. You are the warrior in that room. When you are pushing out a baby, shit happens (ohhh… I’m sorry about that but, really, you must have seen it coming). When you poop, it’s not much different to us midwives than you sneezing. We nonchalantly wipe it away and carry on.
And here’s the kicker – us midwives kind of like it when you poop. It means that you are pushing in the right spot and that all of that work you are putting in is worth it. When you are pushing in labour, you are using the same muscles that you use when you’re going to the bathroom. Sometimes, when a woman has an epidural, it can be difficult for her to feel if she’s pushing correctly. A bit of poop can be visual confirmation that she is. So, yay for poop!
In every prenatal class I’ve taught, every client I’ve cared for, this: “I’m so scared of tearing.”
You will be birthing a baby out of your vagina. Your body will be doing many things it doesn’t normally do. (did you know your tail bone will actually move of the way?) And, yes, you might tear and it is not as big a deal as you think. If you tear, you won’t feel it and you won’t know it. When you are birthing your baby, there are many other sensations and feelings happening, hormones coursing through you, adrenaline pumping. The only way you will know if you tear is after everything is said and done when you ask your midwife or your doctor. That’s right – you’ll have no idea if you tore did or not.
As an aside, I really want to come up with a better word than ‘tear’, one that isn’t quite so… violent sounding. Maybe a variation of the word schism – that sounds more fun, right?
Home birth is safe
For normal, low-risk pregnancies, home birth with a trained care provider (ie: a midwife) is at least as safe as hospital birth. A recent study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) debunks (again) the myth that home birth is riskier than birthing in a hospital. In fact, the rate of interventions is far lower for planned home births than planned hospital births including labour augmentation (that’s the IV pump of oxytocin), assisted vaginal deliveries (forceps, vacuum), and c-sections.
CBC News: Low-risk births just as safe at home as in hospital: McMaster study
Canadian Medical Association Journal: Outcomes associated with planned place of birth among with low-risk pregnancies (abstract and full study)
And lastly, a few good things to know about midwives:
- Midwives are your primary care provider. You cannot have both an OB and a midwife and you don’t need both. Both are qualified to care for you during your pregnancy, labour, and birth. Both can order the same tests and bloodwork.
- Midwives have a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree, which means we have studied pregnancy, labour, and birth (and newborns and breastfeeding) for four years, including attending births and providing primary care. International midwives have a graduated from a 2-year Canadian university program to be able to here.
- Midwives attend births both at home and in hospital (or a birth centre).
- Midwives provide care for both you and your baby for 6 weeks postpartum, including home visits in the first week, which means neither of you need to see a doctor during this time.
- Midwives and doulas are different professions, but together they make a beautiful birth team!