Most women aren’t even getting adequate care, let alone good. They think that waiting in a waiting room for thirty minutes or longer is inevitable. If the room is crowded, well, it must be a good obstetrical practice. They think that being seen by someone different each month is fine, who cares if the person who attends them at the birth hasn’t spent more than ten minutes with them the entire pregnancy? They don’t seem to care if the person attending them has ever been pregnant or had a baby before. They think that sitting in a cubbyhole and waiting for someone to put Smurf-goo on their tummies and listen to the baby with a Doppler (a concentrated “dose” of ultrasound, baaaaad for babies) and then throw them on a scale, warrants the insurance company paying that doctor several hundred dollars. Heck, they charge exorbitant prices for dipping a stick into the woman’s pee – the stick costs pennies and the time it takes to check things out is…. about two seconds.
When women come to me, and to most home birth midwives, they never wait in a waiting room. It feels so disrespectful to me to make someone wait when you have agreed upon a time to meet. Isn’t that person’s time as valuable as mine? They have rearranged their day, rushed to get to the appointment on time – only to wait? Does anyone serve them drinks (no, not margaritas – we’re talkin’ about coconut water, herbal teas, healthy natural juices) or food (sliced fresh fruit, cheese, raw almonds, organic raisins) – perhaps they didn’t have time to stop on the way over to get something for their unborn babies to munch on!
We (my student midwives and I) spend at least an hour, and sometimes even an hour and a half or two, with each and every client. They are not, by the way, patients. A patient is someone who is sick, and pregnant women are not sick, they are pregnant. They have time to have all of their questions answered to their satisfaction, and time to get to know the people who are going to be at their births. Other mammals will not birth if there are strangers nearby – those strangers might be predators and so the female’s body closes down to protect the baby – how many times as a doula years ago did I see women who went from six or seven centimeters at home, to four when we arrived at the hospital?? We spend time talking about nutrition at each and every visit – good nutrition is the corner post for a healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. We talk about labor, breastfeeding, fears, sex, family beliefs about birth – and a variety of other topics that help the woman/couple in so many ways. We want her to look forward to her prenatal visits and to come away feeling more excited, more confident, and more relaxed each time. We don’t always weigh the women, we don’t always draw blood (birth is a normal physiological process that has been going on since the beginning of time without tools, tubes, tests, drugs, chemicals, machines or even doctors) and we sometimes do no testing at all, none — it depends on a variety of factors and on the woman herself.
But what we do is this: We get to know our clients (okay, well not the three who showed up at my door unannounced and then birthed in my home). We often get to know their families. We connect with them. They know who their midwives will be and who will be beside them when they are in labor. They know that we are taking very good personal care of them and they know that we will do everything we can to help their babies come into the world drug/machine/technology free. They also know that we will never have to look at a chart to see who they are, or to have a photo of them stapled on to the front of it to identify them.
What we also don’t do, by the way, is to make them wait at eleven o’clock wondering who their next nurse will be when the shifts change, either.