Maureen Rayson caught my baby girl at St. Vincent's in December of 2008.
I heard many good reviews and a couple of bad ones for Maureen. Every single MW I looked into, I heard good things, and bad things. There was a great deal of debate on MDC during my search about whether or not hospital midwives are as holistic and hands off as homebirth midwives.
The feedback I got on Maureen was great--one mom who was really happy with her told me that she was desperate for a natural birth and Maureen was a facilitator for that. The other moms told me that her prenatal care was excellent, and their births were good experiences.
Here's what I've realized--ANY midwife that delivers in a hospital will have a medicalized model of care--it's inevitable. The good thing is that they also follow a midwife model of care--which is geared toward natural birth. If you are looking for a hands off, crunchy birth, the only way you are going to get that is by homebirth, IMO.
I really, truly think that as a pregnant mama, we HAVE to take control and responsibility of our situation. I was as educated as I possibly could be on pregnancy and childbirth, so that I was armed and ready to take on and decline unnecessary interventions. I didn't have a very long birth plan--just a list of my wishes and then I planned to simply decline whatever I didn't want. They cannot MAKE you do anything, and this includes your MW.
I found Maureen to be very holistic, talking about the mind controlling the body, giving herbs, etc. Did I know and could I guarantee that she wouldn't switch up once I started seeing her, and even in birth? I did not, so I just had to trust her. And personally, I liked that she was a CNM. I liked that she could see problems and try to prevent them (not saying that HB midwives don't do that, just saying what I liked about Maureen).
I really think each individual's experience is different. It varies from person to person and from midwife to midwife.
The good thing about Maureen is, while she has privileges at St. Vincent's, she's not on their staff--so there is no hospital protocol that she has to follow, no rules she has to go by--but she does support the 20 minute EFM strip and the hep-lock upon arrival (hospital policy, although you can refuse the hep-lock). Maureen has a great deal of respect for the hospital and its nurses--and she's smart enough to know that you don't go into someone else's turf and tell them what to do. She is agile and clever enough to get what you want without insulting or antagonizing the nurses and staff. And if you have to be in a hospital, this is a best case scenario.
Honestly--she's not perfect--she can be forgetful and scattered, but that does not take away from her ability at all. It helps if you keep track of recent tests, results, and ask her lots of questions. She is extremely professional and an excellent listener--she is comforting and knowledgeable. She knows that she tends to be forgetful and will ask you to remind her of stuff for your next visit (as in, "remind me to give you the results of the blood test/ultrasound/etc."). She was impressed that I knew my blood type, and many of the test results from my first pregnancy (I have my medical records and looked through them thoroughly). So, it helps to be in charge of yourself, to an extent. Although I think that's true when seeing any physician.
We had a really fantastic second visit--we built up a great chat and really got into what it takes to have a successful mother/midwife relationship. She listened with great interest as I told her what a great tool the internet is to get feedback and reviews on midwives. She even asked me what her reviews were like! I was hesitant to tell her the only two negative things I had heard about her, but she wanted to hear them so she could "improve" on them, as she said, and she was not defensive or upset; she listened and gave me succinct, complete reasons for doing what she had done with those specific clients.
We developed a personal friendship throughout my pregnancy-I brought her Greek desserts (she has a total sweet tooth!), brought her baklava to the hospital when I was in labor (which I had made the night before!), and then sent her a Greek cookbook as a gift after my daughter was born. Her and I really clicked, and I was lucky to develop a great relationship with her.
Like I said--no one's perfect. There are a couple (and literally I mean a couple) of women who had negative experiences with her that I know of, amongst a sea of wonderful reviews. I think it really has to do with personality. Not everyone will get along--not everyone will "gel," so to speak. You have to see her and see if your personalities match, which is why I think it's important that you see more than one midwife in your search.
Also, I think people go to midwives that attend births in hospitals and expect them to be like homebirth midwives--they are not. Maureen is wonderful, but as is NYS law, she has to be backed by an OB--if I became high risk, I would have had to transfer care. So, it just depends how crunchy you are. Are you OK with a hospital CNM handling your care? Then Maureen is a good choice. Are you looking for someone who will be on the sidelines "just in case?" Then she is not for you.
The reality is that she works out of an office, in Manhattan, and she sees many women, not just for pregnancy, but for general care. So, she is not going to come to your house, cook you breakfast, and then do a load of laundry after you give birth. She's not cold by any means, but I don't think she's like the midwives on The Farm who will braid your hair while you go through a contraction. But she was supportive of my monitoring my own blood sugar for two weeks and then reporting back to her (instead of drinking that crazy orange drink), and did not push any prenatal tests on me--I chose what I wanted to do, and she was supportive of it. Being a CNM, she mentioned induction during my 39th week, but after I was VERY clear that non-medically necessary induction was not on the table for me, she never mentioned it again. She really took my lead and was supportive of every decision I made.
Did she yawn through some of our appointments? Sure. Was she tired because she had been with a laboring mother for over 20 hours in ALL cases? Yes. Did I want that same support when I went into labor? You BETCHA!!
As for St. Vincent's? I will be devastated if they close their doors--they are working on a brand new birthing center facility, and from my experience, they truly ARE supportive of the midwifery model of care and of natural birth! St. Vincent's is a small, Catholic hospital (I'm not Catholic, and I don't care particularly that they are). It's much slower paced, much less busy, and has no big names attached to it. I think it's better for those reasons. When I was pregnant, I spoke to the maternity nurse there on the phone and she was very supportive--especially if I were to come in with a midwife. I was also seeing a chiropractor who sees many of Maureen's patients and said that 1. Maureen's patients are very happy with her and 2. St. Vincent's really does seem to be supportive of natural birth.
So, after all that, I had a blessedly quick and easy birth with my daughter--I walked in pushing, literally. She was born not five minutes after I arrived (Maureen barely made it). And so, there was no time for even a hep-lock!
The hospital staff and nurses were a complete joy. They seemed to be genuinely happy that I had a natural birth--they were so warm, welcoming, and gentle with me. My baby never left my side--there was never even a mention or question of it. She was put right on my chest right after birth and stayed there for a good half hour. The nurse asked before she took her to get weighed, and asked before the eye goop and vit K shot (the eye goop was promptly wiped off by me, and the nurse didn't even flinch). The nurse who "diapered" me was gentle, respectful, and professional. We sprung for a private room, and I am so glad we did. The nurses never disturbed us, and the nurse who gave my daughter a bath (at my bedside) sat and chatted with me for a good half hour.
Now, are all these typical experiences? I don't know. Would the hospital staff have been so laid back if they had been busier? Maybe not (I gave birth on 12/23, so everyone was in jolly spirits). But overall, it was the best experience I could have hoped for in a hospital, and with a midwife. I was back home 26 hours later. It has taken me a while to get back on here and recommend Maureen very highly, but I'm here and I do.
One of my dear friends used Maureen based on my recommendation, and she couldn't be happier. She had a vaginal birth with a "sunny side up" baby, after 26 hours of labor (and she was in the hospital the whole time!).
I know this is a novel--but I also know how agonizing it is to try and find a good midwife in NYC! Hope this helps someone out there.
Eyes Open Mamahttp://eyesopenmothering.blogspot.com/