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Private Midwives: Not the Kind with Hairy Armpits Birthing Babies Under the Trees

Private Midwife homebirth

Eye check, little Goldie

Ok, well, I don’t know if our midwife, Maria has hairy armpits or not… In fact, I have nothing against hairy armpits at all, sometimes, mine get a bit ‘fuzzy’ as Margo likes to say! And, nothing wrong with birthing under the trees… What?! Ok, enough about hair and trees, I just needed a catchy title!

I only fully realize the awesomeness of having a private midwife until we were having our post-natal check up when Goldie was about ten days old. The months of house pre-natal visits, and then harassing the doctors, hospitals, the bloodwork and ultrasound people to accommodate my referrals that came from a midwife instead of a doctor, the birth, the post-natal care, and all of a sudden, I realized that our midwife, who had been coming to my house for the past 7 or 8 months, was no longer going to be knocking on the door! The impact of having a private midwife and receiving private care was an amazing experience, that took months to reveal itself to me. One day, I woke up and realised that private midwives are the BOMB! The Rolls Royce of maternity care, as some like to put it.

When I first thought about having a homebirth, I was about 8 weeks pregnant with our second child. I’m not the kind of person to do tons of research before I go to do something… I just always jump in and figure things out as they come. Drives my husband nuts! I knew nothing about the logistics of having a homebirth and receiving private care… I just knew that I wanted it!!! I spoke with a friend of mine in Sydney, who is a doula, and when I mentioned homebirth, she told me I had to contact a midwife right away, as private homebirth midwives are a rare breed (and they are, they are stepping outside of the confines of the hospital and doing something extraordinary). So, I frantically did about 5 minutes of internet research, found a VERY SHORT list of all the private midwives available in the Gold Coast area. Found one that had a website, Maria, of Gold Coast Midwifery Practice, read her biography and gave her a call.

She sounded like she was running errands at the grocery store, but was very nice and even took time to have a little chat with me, while she was running around. After our call, can you believe, I was a bit suspicious! My first impression was, ‘If she’s so good, why would she take the time to answer the phone when she was busy and have a chat with me? Why wasn’t she short and why didn’t she just quickly take my number and tell me she would call me back when she wasn’t busy? Bottom line, ‘Why did she seem to care?!’ After all, every other private obstetrician had a secretary to answer all their client’s questions. In Australia, when having a baby, you can go the public route, which is, take whatever midwives and obstetricians you get, and whomever is on duty while you’re birthing. Or, you can go private and try to find the best obstetrician for you. You have your own obstetrician but you still get whatever midwife is on duty when you’re in labour. No matter which route you take, you can never actually call and have the main dude obstetrician (and, they’re ALL DUDES…) answer the phone. If you have a question, small or large, you have to just leave it with the receptionist, or worse, google it in the middle of the night and scare the crap out of yourself reading other people’s blogs! Anyway, Maria said that she might be able to fit me into her birth schedule and we had our first visit. I was a bit confused and very suspicious after the appointment! She was nothing what I expected! I thought she would be a little more…. crunchy… But, she was very professional, organised, and extremely thorough! She was even genuinely talking to the ever interrupting Margo, while even I was ignoring the toddler blabber!

Maria was new to the homebirth scene, but had been a midwife for a really long time in the hospital and had seen it all. She was not afraid to transfer to the hospital if needed, and to be honest, I was still a bit uneducated about a homebirth, so it did make me more comfortable to know that she would transfer right away if she thought something wasn’t right. I was still all full of doubts after the first appointment, but me being Ms. Do-It-All-Last-Minute, wasn’t overly concerned. I had a feeling it would work itself out and I certainly didn’t have time to look around for another midwife. I was busy working and taking care of Margo and really really tired from being in the first trimester, so I just decided to book in with Maria, suspicions and all! Looking back, I think, what a ding bat I was, we had found a perfect midwife! At our last post natal visit, I told Maria about my initial suspicions. She laughed and said something like, ‘What were you expecting, that we had hairy armpits and were giving birth under the trees?’

Continuity of Care

Here I was in labor with Margo, pushing my brains out on the toilet, with her head just about to crown. I was completely naked. (She was born in the pool.. not the toilet). Somewhere in between contractions and pushing, the old Indian man who was my private obstetrician pops his head in the bathroom door and says, ‘Good morning, Kathryn, how are you‘. What?!?! Who calls me Kathryn!?!? I just reply, ‘Oh, Hi…‘ I’m just in the middle of pushing my baby out and I’m butt naked, but yeah, ‘I’m fine!!!’ Like, ok, thanks for showing up! I’ve only been in labour for 36 hours and this was the first time I had seen him at all! Get out of here, man! The first midwife who was on duty when I arrived at the hospital, was really cool, but her shift was ending soon after I got there… The next mid-wife, unfortunately, the one that I labored with all night, was totally lame. She smelled kind of like, if you try to dry your clothes and they don’t dry all the way, but you put them away and they get stinky…plus she was really dull and kept yawning! She was yawning, I was moaning! She kept running in and out of the room, and if she was even there in the room, she was like, ‘Oh, you’re doing fine‘… but her tone was like, ‘I’m bored and I need some coffee because I’m falling asleep‘. Finally, the mediocre midwife’s shift ended at eight o’clock in the morning, and the next midwife who came on duty was this awesome drill sergeant, just what I needed. When I saw her enter the room, I was like, ‘Oh… you’ve saved me!!!’ And, you know, Margo was born 20 minutes after her shift started. Coincidence? I don’t think so! It’s no secret that a woman labors better with a person that she feels comfortable with. I’ve heard of numerous cases where a woman will only deliver the baby after a certain person has left or entered the room.

A private midwife comes into your home for your appointments (some may have an office, but ours come to our home). It’s the same person every time. You get to know a bit about them and they get to know A LOT about you! You can call them 24/7 for any of your concerns, which is great if you get a scare in the middle of the night… or if your waters break at 11 am and you need to give them a heads up! You don’t always have to birth at home to have a private midwife (in some places, it’s becoming acceptable to have a private midwife enter the hospital where you are birthing and be ‘your’ midwife.) Far from the crap shot lottery of getting a midwife that you don’t like at your birth… The private midwife builds a trusting relationship with a pregnant woman. They are going to be there during the most vulnerable and sensitive moment in your life… They have gotten to know you and your family over the past 7 or so months. They understand your family dynamics and they know a bit about your personality. They know your birth plan too, so there are no surprises! I wish I had known how good it was to have a private midwife the first time around, they are worth their weight in gold! When I was in labor with Goldie, and our midwife, Maria, rocked up to the house, I was like, ‘Woohoo! Alright, let’s get this party started!’. It was so different having somewhere there whom I knew and whom I felt a connection with. After all, I didn’t want another stranger around when I was naked and pushing with all my might… I wanted someone who knew that I prefer to be called Kate, rather than Kathryn… (please forgive all grammar and spelling errors… late night blogging!)

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