Well if nothing else they definitely should have cleaned up more, that is terrible you were left with a mess and your husband had to deal with it right after the birth.
How long did it take her to get there after you called and said she should come?
If it was me, I probably wouldn't ask for a lower fee, though it does seem sort of unfair that they didn't really do their part. But I am pretty sure most contracts say that they are not at fault if they don't arrive in time, particularly for a precipitous birth. It also might say on there somewhere that you can expect it to take 1-2 hours for them to arrive after they call. If you have a copy of the contract still you should take a look at it again.
I don't know a ton about it of course, but from what you said I don't think that she really could have assessed the situation much better than she did. Birth experiences vary greatly, but "normally" you don't go from contractions 10 minutes apart to pushing nearly as fast as it sounds like you did. I think usually one of the most reliable ways to tell what phase of labor a woman is in is how she feels. Not that it is your fault by any means for not knowing the baby would come so fast, but it didn't sound like you were having many of the typical signs of active labor or impending pushing.
When you go to talk to her, I'd probably mention at the very least that you were disappointed with their lack of helpfulness after the birth and not cleaning up like they had promised and maybe just ask why she wasn't able to arrive on time. You don't have to be confrontational about it, but try to communicate why you are bothered, then hopefully she can respond thoughtfully without feeling defensive, and maybe she'll even have a helpful explanation or offer a reduced fee herself.
My midwives didn't clean up either. After a long labor, we ended up transferring and had a cesarean 12 hrs later, so my poor husband had to support me for three days, spend a day in the hospital, then leave us to clean everything up. He's still annoyed about it! I'm non confrontational, so I never did talk to them about it. There were some support issues, but they were at our house for a very long time, so my dh was more upset about it than me.
Mama to my little social butterfly 6/13/09
I agree with Oread, I don't think the midwife was at fault for not knowing that you were going to birth imminently. What you had is a fairly atypical labor pattern and I would not expect a client who called me with that report to have a baby before I could get there unless there was a history of that type of labor. Usually the best indicator of a precipitous labor is the mother's intuition that something is happening fast, which is what you were connecting with when you called her right back and asked her to come, which was good!
I wonder if some of what you're feeling as dissatisfaction with the midwife was the shock and intensity of a very fast labor, which is exactly what you had. Anyone who goes from contractions every 10 minutes and being able to easily talk on the phone to a baby out in less time than the midwife can make it has just had a very intense experience. That can feel very out of control and scary. Could it be that an overwhelming experience like that when you were expecting to have a lot of support be what is making you feel like they failed you? Even if there was no reasonable expectation that anything could have been done differently?
Fledgling midwife on hiatus, Wife to B, mama to C (c/s 12/04) and S (12/07), m/c (3/12) and expecting another bean 6/13 .
How much time was there between the "come now" phone call and her arrival? How far away does she live?
Leaving the house in such a state is completely unprofessional. I probably wouldn't argue for a lower rate, but I certainly would not hire her again or recommend her to anyone else. We're not talking about someone who accidentally left one bloody hand towel behind--we're talking about a mess that required two hours to clean up. Leaving behind that kind of mess demonstrates a lack of respect for you and your home, a lack of dedication to ensuring things are done correctly, no commitment to being detail-oriented, and a general lackadaisical attitude. Those are all terrible attributes for a midwife.
My midwife, after both of my births, left the house so pristine that I remember looking at my bedroom the morning after my son was born and wondering if I dreamed the whole thing! Especially if she didn't make it for the birth, she should have cleaned up.
Mama to Silas Anansi, born 9/9/10 and Petra Eadaion, born 10/1/12.
For 14 years I've been a home birth midwife. I've missed MANY births and I believe this is a two-way street. It's the woman/couple's responsibility to call me in time and it's my responsibility to get there in a timely fashion when I am called. As long as both sides did the best they could, the rest is up to fate and you can't "blame" anyone. As far as the clean-up...in almost 900 births I don't think I've ever had anyone ask me prenatally or post partum about the housekeeping situation. I'm unaware that this is considered a midwive's duty. Of course, I deal only with horse and buggy Mennonite women. As a midwife, I clean up any mess I have made. If the woman or couple threw some wet towels around before I got there, left their dirty clothing in a pile on the living room floor or left the bedroom strewn with empty gatorade bottles, I just don't think it's my duty to clean this up. It's interesting to hear the views of the women on this subject. It's also interesting to hear "...was this in the contract?..." as I do everything with a handshake and have never had a contract. It sounds like in this particular case there needed to be some more communication. Madeline, you should approach your midwife in an open way so that you can feel better about this because maybe it truly was a misunderstanding or maybe you will find your midwife really was remiss.
I didn't see where you said how long was between when you asked her to come and she arrived and whether the timing was made clear to you. I think a MW missing a birth is a reality, especially with a fast birth, if a family doesn't call in time or if the MW lives far away. The MW's distance from the family should be talked about at length during pregnancy and everyone should be prepared for how to deal with that. My last MW lives 5 minutes away but worked all over the state so I called her as soon as labor started to have her prepared and ready to come quickly when I called back with the "go". When we called back and said we were ready for her to come she communicated with us exactly when she would be there, when the assistant would be there and etc. This seems like a reasonable expectation. If my labor was crazy fast and happened before she was expected to arrive I would have dealt with that.
As far as cleaning, my MW's were pretty thorough but my DC's birth was late and I knew they had been at a birth before that so I sent them home. There was still some stuff to clean but they also knew that we had a lot of people around to help.
In your case it sounds like there are some red flags and I'm not surprised you're feeling unsupported by your MW. Speaking of two way street, a MW/client situation where the MW lives or works far from the home of the client, this is something she needs to be aware of too. That should be factored into when at what point in the labor you two decide she should come. And the cleaning, if that was part of the agreement AND she missed the birth...yea, I would think a little extra clean-up and postpartum care were in order.
Congrats on your sweet LO and I wish you healing thoughts as you process your birth.
It sounds like she cleaned up the birth space but not all the detritus from labor. I think it is worth mentioning but wouldn't be a cause to not recommend her services.
Did you and your MW discuss how long from the point at which she thought she should start out to your house (considering how far away it was) before labor? Did she take longer than the amount of time you had discussed she would need to make your birth (and presumably hard labor, transition and the second stage!)?
One of the red flags for me is that I consider one of homebirth midwifery care to be one where the MW expects to be there for a good chunk of the labor. I know misses happen but if my MW lived an hour away I would want her to plan to err on the side of caution. Did you talk about that?
Did you give birth in less than an hour from the time you called the MW at ctx 10 minutes? The reason I ask is I wonder if maybe (maybe?) the MW did think she was erring on the side of caution and you had a really unusual ctx pattern? I have no idea about that but am just kind of wondering.
Also, you said you have a history of short labors? If that were the case I think I would want the MW to come from an hour away right at the start of labor.
Here's what I would want to know if I were you: Is "5 minutes apart" an appropriate marker for a MW living over an 1 hour away from a client having her 4th baby? At what sage of labor would a MW giving this marker expect to arrive for?
As far as the communication goes -- that sounds like your MW may have been a more "hands off" MW maybe when it came to guiding the birth discussion. I had one MW like that and thankfully that was for my second planned HB. It's a good fit if you know the ropes but obviously not a good fit for a first time homebirth mama like you.
I think you should just ask her if her birth fee will be included in her final price... if she says yes, I'd ask what that portion of the bill is covering exactly since she didn't make the birth OR clean up. Perhaps in your contract she states that her fee is non-negotiable, can't be prorated, yadeyayaya. You can't really blame her for missing the birth if she got there in a reasonable time frame after you asked her to come(like I know my midwife is an hour away if she's at home, so I'd anticipate an hour and 15 minutes tops for her to get her from the time I ask for her to come), anything dreadfully long I'd assume wasn't her planning on a fast birth and just taking her sweet time.
Regardless of missing the birth, they should've cleaned up the birth mess, like come on!
Wife to DH (12.10.2009), Anchorage based doula , Proud mama to Autumn (09.03.2008), Sylas (04.25.2010), (06.11.2012), Calliope(04.23.2013) .
I'd be disappointed too. And I'm a little surprised that she asked you you call with contractions only 5 minutes apart. For my second baby, I lived an hour from the birth center and they told me they wanted me to come when contractions were 10 minutes apart or at least by 8 minutes apart just because of the distance. And with my 3rd baby, my contractions would be 7 minutes, then 3 minutes, then 2, then 10. They were sort of all over the place. I called the midwives when I had a feeling this might be "it" and they left immediately. When I was discussing the spacing of my contractions later (after my baby was born), the midwife commented that, especially with 2nd, 3rd or more babies, the timing of the contractions is not a good indicator of how soon you're going to birth the baby.
The clean up thing would bother me. That was an issue for me (worried about how "messy" hb would be) but my midwives cleaned up everything. Obviously not the messes that were there prior to their arrival, but they cleaned up anything birth related. They threw towels in the laundry, cleaned the few drops of blood that got on the carpet, helped drain the pool, everything. In fact, my baby was born on the same day as her big sister and we were able to have the cake cutting/eating and opening presents for her birthday party in the same room the baby was born a few hours later!
I wish she would have just said, "Why don't I just go ahead and drive down there and check on you, and if you don't need me right now I'll go grab a coffee or....." or she could have said, "Don't worry about wasting my time, I want to be there to support you!". That is what I needed to hear, but I didn't. Instead the conversations were rushed and I felt silly even calling her. This may be postpartum hormones talking here, I don't know.
I think this is really individual and she probably works with women who have all kinds of different approaches to being in labour. For example I was all "get out of here, and don't come back till I tell you". I was all about being left alone, if someone wanted to be in the same room they had to stand in the doorway and remain perfectly quiet.
But I would have totally expected her to check on you at some point during that 11-12 hrs of labour, even if you weren't sure that anything was happening. I would talk with her and just say that you were disappointed that they didn't make it for the birth and upset that they didn't clean up as you discussed. See what she says. I would hope that she would explain, apologize, maybe take off a small part of the fee but maybe not. Then again I'm so non-confrontation I probably wouldn't bring it up even though I should... Good luck!
I'm sorry you are so disappointed.
It sounds to me that you felt that with a midwife you would not need to act as an advocate for yourself. Understandably, you are hurt and angry that that turned out not to be true. I am very non-confrontational myself and find that when I don't advocate for myself it can be hard to handle the anger -- I'm angry at the other person for taking advantage while I'm also angry at myself (usually more than the other person) for letting the issue slide. Forgiving oneself can be the hardest part of this sort of situation.
Unfortunately, with any caregiver of any kind we must always be our own advocates no matter how uncomfortable that makes us. I will say, for me personally, I had a much harder time advocating for myself with a midwife than with an OB. After all, my midwife was supposed to be a "friend" and always having my best interests at heart. I was worried about the impact on our "friendship" if I advocated too strongly for myself and my child. With my OB it was a strictly professional relationship and at the end of the day, with some work on myself, I found I could get to the point where I wasn't too concerned if she thought I was too demanding, bitchy or whatever.
I support homebirth that meets the qualifications set forth in the AAP's 2013 policy on homebirth.
It sounds like you called her and told her you felt off and then she said call again later? That would have me feeling confused too.
As for the cleaning- I am sorry, that sounds terible!
WOHMama to DD (July 2008) and DS (May 2013); wife to DH .
Live your life, like your life depends on it.
I labored and gave birth in a tub in the living room. Our midwife stitched me up on our bed and I breastfeed our daughter in the bedroom. I remember going back into the living room and it was like nothing had happened. The midwife, her assistant and the doula cleaned everything. All I had left was a bag of laundry. Amazing! DH said everyone worked so hard.
But I can relate to feeling unsettled about one aspect of my labor. The assistant was someone I hadn't met before. I remember blocking her out during the labor just because she was a stranger to me. It bothered me so much that I dwelled in it and didn't know if I should say something at my post partum visit. I decided to say something and I was so glad I did. My midwife thought that I had met the assistant along the way so she never would have known unless I said something. She apologized for the miss and I felt like there was a load off. Any good business should welcome feedback. It will be uncomfortable but if you might feel better about this lasting memory then it is worth it to talk to her. Remind her about what you loved about working with her and that overall you had a great birth experience and then tell her that you had certain expectations going into the birth but were surprised by how things went down. Frame it up that you just want to share this feedback so she can better manage future clients' expectations of her practices and service. If she want going to pick up all things related to the birth, then you would've like to have known that so you could have made arrangements.
I hear you. And hope that you can find some closure. But I am very happy you had such a fantastic homebirth experience otherwise!
I gave birth in the hospital and I know hospital are like those evil places, but I had L&D nurses with me any time I wanted. And ob came in many times. Of course, we never had to clean up anything and my DH stayed overnight with me and the baby.
So, I would expect at least the same customer service form the MW.
I think you should review your MW on yelp.com and few other review boards such as healthgrade.com and vitals. com.
This was not what you paid for.