Nature + science = baby?
August 6, 2012 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Looking for an obstetrician in Minneapolis or St. Paul, as well as general guidance on natural childbirth options/timelines.

I'd prefer a woman, don't want a C-section unless it's medically necessary, and have a pretty crunchy outlook in general but I don't want to throw modern medicine out the window. This is my first pregnancy and I'm at 5 weeks from the beginning of my last cycle right now.

I'd love advice about choosing a hospital/midwife/doula/doctor - do I need all, most, some of these things? Help! And thank you!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I suggest coming to and looking for the "Minnesota Mamas" discussion. We've recently been talking about our experiences with different OBs & hospitals around the cities. There's also doula info, if you search the archives.

I saw various midwives & doctors at Healthpartners Center for Women (for 2 pregnancies) & was happy with my care. Feel free to message me for more info. :)
posted by belladonna at 8:26 PM on August 6, 2012

Congratulations! May it be a joy!

We are mid pregnancy right now [1], and planning home birth. We are both scientists, and pro evidence-based care. Luckily, most of the time, one doesn't have to choose between modern medicine and home birth / birth alternatives / having a good birth experience, it seems! We were afraid that it would be all woo once we left the hospital birth track. Instead we have found it refreshing, practical, and invigorating!

We chose these midwives.

We were at Healthpartners Center for Women before switching over, and loved working with Edith, who we found to be blunt in a delightful way.

One can also change providers (in the middle the stream) and still get plenty of continuity of care.

Memail if you want more scuttlebutt.

[1] oh, who am I kidding, *she* is mid-pregnancy
posted by gregglind at 8:51 PM on August 6, 2012

Congrats! Babies are wonderful.

I am on the "I believe in science" side of crunchy. I've had two homebirths attended by a licensed midwife. Unfortunately, there is no universal right answer for achieving a natural birth: a homebirth is right for me and my situation, but something else might be right for you and yours. Personally, I use a licensed midwife (CPM). Were I to have a hospital birth, I would want a midwife first (a CNM) and then only if I had to, an OB. Further, I would not even consider a hospital birth without a doula. I didn't have a doula for either of my homebirths but my midwife had students who acted as doulas both times. Feel free to memail me if you are interested in the specifics of my births or anything else really.

My two best bits of advice: Firstly, interview everyone you can find until you find someone who you click with on a personal and professional level - both OBs and Midwives (tour hospitals and birth centers while you are at it- see what you are dealing with). I found some generic list of interview questions online- they are a good starting place- but it's nice to have a real conversation. Secondly, do tons of research: Don't take anyone's word for it. Follow your gut and listen to your inner voice.

A point of clarification: choosing a home birth or midwife does not throw modern medicine out the window. You have all of the same tests and procedures available to you that you do when you choose an OB. Ultrasounds, blood tests, etc. Midwives are highly trained medical professionals- their expertise lies in natural birth and they have the training and ability to predict problems before they turn into emergencies. Pregnancy isn't treated like an illness and (in my experience) midwives take the time to get to know you and your family intimately. Midwives have a wider variety of natural tools they employ: diet changes and herbs to correct blood pressure issues, for example. They are also trained to know when a medical problem is outside of their scope of practice and it's time to transfer care. After your baby is born, you'll have ongoing support in your recovery and the initiation of breastfeeding. OBs, on the other hand, are trained surgeons.

Of course, I'm biased. :) I had absolutely wonderful experiences at the birth of both of my babies. My babies and I were treated with respect and gentleness. I was the first and only person to touch them after they were born. They and I were monitored very closely during labor and after birth because we were the only "patients" present. I can't speak of it more highly.

Also gregglind is right: you can change providers at any moment, and you should if your gut tells you to. Whoever you choose is your at-will employee, they don't "let" you do anything because it is not theirs to let.

I wish you the best- What an exciting time!
posted by LyndsayMW at 11:33 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't live in Minnesota, I've never been pregnant. That's my disclosure statement.

I do have a friend who's a doula though and I recommend that you look into hypno birthing. Personally, I find self hypnosis to be a great tool in so many facets of life, and I can't think of a more appropriate time for it than during giving birth.

A midwife that's associated with an OB/GYN is a great option, as is having a midwife attending you for a hospital birth, since if anything is amiss, you're rightthere for appropriate advanced care. I worked with a nurse practitioner for years (she moved out of state, WAH!) and I found her to be sensitive, non-judgemental, a great listener and in synch with me. That was the relationship we built, I'm also very happy with the GYN in the practice who took me on after she left. It's all about your doctor in particular.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:27 AM on August 7, 2012

I'm with LyndsayMW, I like science -- love it in fact -- but am a fan of low-intervention pregnancy and birth whenever possible as well. You might try the forums, some folks there might be too "hippy-dippy" for your tastes but not everyone on those forums lives in a yurt and breastfeeds their eight year old :) I've found them to be full of really good advice, especially when you're looking for a recommendation for a provider. (Disclaimer, I don't have kids but I've used the site as a nanny and some of my friends who do have kids have used it for providers).
posted by blue_bicycle at 6:43 AM on August 7, 2012

Congratulations! You were me, once upon a time. Here's what I did:

1) thought about an ideal birth experience (natural water birth), and found a hospital where my partner and I thought it was most likely;
2) found a midwife practice with privileges at that hospital (I didn't interview others, and this practice did not live up to their reputation);
3) found a doula (I can't remember exactly which database we used, but one where you could check availability before contacting them);
4) had an ok experience with pregnancy and the first twelve hours of labor, at which point the midwife on call realized my baby was breech;
5) had an emergency c-section performed by a (very kind and skilled) OB.

After that, things kind of fell apart. I had bad experiences with the nurses at the hospital and didn't get the postpartum and breastfeeding support I expected from the midwives or doula (the midwives especially seemed most concerned with making sure I wasn't feeling litigious). I felt like all the medical professionals involved in the birth thought I was someone else's problem as soon as the baby was out.

Here's what I would do differently:
1) Find a health care provider - midwife, OB, whatever - that I liked and trusted. That might mean lots of potentially awkward interviews, but I think it would be worth it.
2) Trust that care provider to have privileges at a good hospital/to facilitate a safe home birth.
3) Trust myself to demand better care or to change tracks when I felt like I wasn't being cared for.
4) Spend as much time thinking about and arranging postpartum care as prenatal care. It was my first, and I got pretty caught up in the pregnancy/birth part, to the detriment of everything that came after. And what came after has ultimately been much more fun and much more important!

LindsayMW is absolutely right about interviews, and about changing providers if you don't feel good about the care you're getting. Best of luck to you!
posted by phisbe at 6:47 AM on August 7, 2012

I'm in my last month of pregnancy, and switched from an OB to midwives around 28 weeks. I didn't have any real problems with the OB group, but realized it was extremely unlikely I would be able to get the birth I wanted with them, in the hospital. My local hospital (there's only one) only has 2 midwives who deliver there, and they're not on-call all the time. Luckily we have an amazing free-standing birth center, and I found midwives who are also NDs. They're awesome and warm, and schedule me for a full hour each appointment instead of the in-and-out at the OB office. I would recommend looking for a birth center if you want a more natural birth but aren't comfortable birthing at home (I wasn't, partly because I live 20+ minutes from the hospital). Midwives carry oxygen (for you or baby), Pitocin shots if you're hemorrhaging after birth, and other medical tools, and will transfer you to a hospital if anything dangerous comes up before, during, or after the birth. I also have a doula, and the extra support is awesome! You should also look into childbirth classes that are more natural focused and will help you with labor coping skills (like Bradley). You might want to check out the Natural Unmedicated Childbirth message board at BabyCenter, the ladies there are very kind and helpful.
posted by Safiya at 8:52 AM on August 7, 2012

I also switched from an OB to a midwife at a free-standing birth center late in my pregnancy (35 weeks in my case). My only regret is that I didn't go with the midwife sooner. Like LindsayMW says, all of the tests you want or need are still available (ultrasound, amnio, whatever) which I did not know and if I had known that at the start it definitely would have helped me decide against an OB. I wanted a natural birth, which my OB said she was fine with, but when we started talking about details (I didn't want an IV, I didn't want continuous monitoring, other things that the OB was not willing to consider not doing) it became clear that it would be almost impossible to have the birth I wanted in the hospital.

We also had a doula, who I hired when we were planning a hospital birth, and who ended up being mostly not needed at the birth center, where we didn't really need an advocate like we would have in the hospital. She did end up taking some awesome photos though, which I treasure and we probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise. If you end up with an out-of-hospital birth, the midwives will give you enough attention and not pressure you and you probably won't need a doula if you can't afford the additional expense (though some doulas-in-training work for free, so if you find someone you click with that's another option).

It turned out that doing an out-of-hospital birth was a good call, because I ended up in labor for 74 hours, and I pushed for 11 hours. I have never heard of anyone going that long in the hospital, that would have been a "failure to progress" in a hospital setting, with extremely strong pressure to c-section -- which basically means you end up with a c-section, because having that kind of stress when you're in labor doesn't exactly relax you and allow you to birth.

TL;DR if you are at all interested in a natural birth, go with a midwife, and investigate your out-of-hospital options. You can still get all the tests, and you can still go to the hospital if you need to, but your chances of getting the birth you want are much higher than the OB/hospital route.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:29 AM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

This was me! Thank you all for your help - this thread gave us the magical word combo "Birth Center" which led us here. They are wonderful so far, for anyone who finds this thread searching for similar suggestions!
posted by kitarra at 3:56 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

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