"My Midwife is very 'hands off' - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What's the deal with calling a MW "Hands Off"?

I was talking to a friend of mine who homebirthed. It was her 3rd baby. With her "hands off MW" (why do people say that!?!?) she had four vaginal checks in 3 hours, told to switch positions when she was doing fine, TOUCH YOUR BABY!!! when he was crowing even though she told them she hates doing that.

Ugh. I couldn't have dealt with that. : And, that's probably some of the best I've heard about "hands off" MWs!

I FINALLY felt like I belonged in the UC forum!!! Because of my own thinking, I don't really feel like I belong here in the UC forum all the time. Sometimes I feel like a UC-wanna-be. For those of you who weren't around last year, we were planning a UC and then my water broke at 31 weeks and my DH required a MW for his comfort. It was his job to call her for the birth if he wanted her. She was in our house, but not at the birth. Birth Story

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#2 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 12:52 PM
 
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Yeah, that doesn't sound very hands off to me. I do call the midwife I used "hands-off" but she had all her babies UC....

-Angela
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#3 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 01:01 PM
 
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That's not hands off. I think because so many midwifes are so hands on that those who had a truly hands off midwife want to make a point of that fact.
I think it's sad though that some don't seem to know what hands off is, the midwives or their clients.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#4 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 01:07 PM
 
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My midwife WAS hands off. No internal checks... as a matter of fact, I can't recall her touching me in any way at all. She "caught" DS, but only because I didn't want DH to move from where he was (he was supposed to catch)

ETA: Oops... sorry, I didn't realise I was in the UC forum...

Dawn, mama to D (3.06) & N (9.07) C (11.09) & Still-in-shock surprise due in Aug!
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#5 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 01:18 PM
 
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My midwife with my last was hands off. She really was. I saw her only three times during my pregnancy. She stayed out of my way during labor and helped dh catch. Friend called it a "watched una birth"

Quote:
told to switch positions
I so hate being told what to do. That goes for every day life AND birthing.

Quote:
four vaginal checks in 3 hours
Was that because the mom wanted to be checked or the midwife thought she needed to be? I had no checks at all, none in pregnancy and none in labor. With my middle daughter (first homebirth) my midwife was pretty hands on. I had ...hum....I think it was 4 vaginal exams during labor. I think that is hands ON. Sure felt like it when she checked me in transition. Nope no thank you, never again. Doesn't need to happen
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#6 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 01:30 PM
 
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Well she sounds more hands off than an OB who's holding a scalpel.

I must point out that some midwives are really hands off. Mine has said that one of her goals is that women will find the confidence to have an UA. I don't think she even touched me during the labor and birth until I asked her to do so.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#7 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 01:59 PM
 
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There are some midwives who will just sit across the room or in another room until/unless they're needed for something. That's what I'd call "hands-off". Or maybe they're there, but are doing more doula-like things, like massage and such.

I wouldn't mind having a position suggested to me IF I was obviously uncomfortable (or if I said I was uncomfortable) in the position I'm in. That can be useful for those of us who forget what ways we can move during labor.

Dilation checks... yeah, I think a "hands-off" midwife wouldn't be doing them unless asked to by the client (some women are curious). I won't be asking for any myself. Actually, even in the hospital with my preterm baby, I only had one check, and that was when I said "it feels like things are opening up down there", and sure enough, his head was right there! I honestly don't even remember what that check felt like. It's all such a blur.

Mama to Tornado Boy (6/04), The Brute (11/06), and Mischief (05/09)... expecting in February '15
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#8 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 04:17 PM
 
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My definition of "hands off" midwife would be one that does not touch me at all (unless I ask) during my pregnancy or labor and is in the house/nearby during labor but offers no assistance unless needed.

THey are rare. I tried looking for one early on.

Mama to Raina (9/06) and Peter (8/09)!
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#9 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 04:21 PM
 
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Vag checks aren't hands-off. btw, I am familar with your birth story. It haunted me "1 hr 40 minutes"...because shortly after I pulled my own version of that

Namaste, Tara
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#10 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 04:46 PM
 
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ya know, i consider and would probably label my MWs "hands-off" based on my experience last time with them. however, it was an extremely fast birth and they only arrived 20min before DD#2 was born. the checked for her heartbeat once, and that was about it... no VE or anything like that. in fact, at one point i siad i wasn't sure if i should be pushing because i didn't think i was fully dialated and instead of offering a VE the MW responded that if i wasn't ready to push out the babe i wouldn't feel like i did. afterwards they *asked* if i wanted to be checked for tears. so all in all they were pretty hands-off... only doing what i asked them to do.

but now coming from a more UC point of view, i can see how with a longer, more drawn out labor things may have been different.

*mama to c 2/2000, v 2/2004, p 9/2006, and h 12/2012*

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#11 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by candipooh
Was that because the mom wanted to be checked or the midwife thought she needed to be? .... Sure felt like it when she checked me in transition. Nope no thank you, never again. Doesn't need to happen
No she didn't ask to be. One of the checks (like you) was in transition, she had the urge to push, her bags of water broke & they wanted to check to see if she was fully dilated. She was... duh!

Oh, and I should point out that she was quite fine with the MWs. She thought it was a great birth experience. THAT is what is really important, KWIM

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#12 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaTaraX
btw, I am familar with your birth story. It haunted me "1 hr 40 minutes"...because shortly after I pulled my own version of that

Namaste, Tara
:roflmao: Oh, oh, Tara! Ok, that made me laugh! Where's your birht story! I need to read it! It's funny because I was reading fast birth stories that haunted me before I had Joie, too... and then I got one!

I liked the fast labor. I was totally fine with it. I missed not hanging out with my DH more, but I liked that I could do that kind of labor once a week and be happy about it!

how was yours for you, tara?

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#13 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 05:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna
Yeah, that doesn't sound very hands off to me. I do call the midwife I used "hands-off" but she had all her babies UC....

-Angela
Yep, mine too! There really are hands off midwives that know how to just sit and wait.
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#14 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 05:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spark
:roflmao: Oh, oh, Tara! Ok, that made me laugh! Where's your birht story! I need to read it! It's funny because I was reading fast birth stories that haunted me before I had Joie, too... and then I got one!

I liked the fast labor. I was totally fine with it. I missed not hanging out with my DH more, but I liked that I could do that kind of labor once a week and be happy about it!

how was yours for you, tara?
I saw it coming. Way before he was born I was posting looking for people who had had fast births. The replies were overshadowed by my use of a certain word, but I gleened a lot from them and that helped prepare me. I knew it would be less than three hours. It was exactly two. And I'm not even sure that that most of that first hour counts. It was just too fast. Way too fast. It was fine for a bit but then it was just...wow. It tok me al ong time to process the birth afterwards. It's crazy that I basically slept all day then gave birth. I'm not thoroughly bonded with mylittle guy and I know it has to do with the sheer rapidity of his birth. Anyway, I could babble for a week, instead I shall direct you to my story

Namaste, Tara
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#15 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 09:21 PM
 
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I have only hired one MW and she was very "hands off".

Which is exactly what I wanted. She checked me once (she asked if I wanted her to, and I said OK, I could have said no, not sure why I didn't). She made me lay down durring a contraction to listen to the HB once (I did not like this, but told her OK). And she keep telling me to breath! (She only did this because I told her I ALWAYS forget to breath durring transition. Plus, she caught the baby. Other than that, it was like she was not even there.

SHE WAS WONDERFUL!

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they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#16 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 09:36 PM
 
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I had a hands-off midwife. Too hands-off, as a matter of fact. She sat in the corner and WORKED ON THE FLOORPLAN FOR HER NEW HOUSE while I thrashed around in back labor hell for two days straight. Every time I had a contraction, I had to specifically verbally request that she put down her books and papers to come do counterpressure or whatever. After a certain point it got very discouraging to have to constantly beg for attention...I felt like I was being too demanding, or something.

I ended up transferring and having c-section.

If you want a UC, have a UC. If you want someone there, get someone there that you can actually feel comfortable working with. Don't try to split the difference. A midwife "who will be in the house but not do anything UNLESS I ASK" is something people talk about a lot, but it's a good idea to look inside yourself and figure out whether you truly would feel comfortable if you had to go out of your way and make an explicit request for every little aspect of support or help during labor.
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#17 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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GalateaDunkel - that sounds AWFUL!!! I think that's just terrible! I'm so sorry you went through that! Ick! I think I'd rather not have that one around at all! "Hands off" doens't mean you have to beg for attention! She ignored you! Wow!

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#18 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 10:49 PM
 
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I'm 37 weeks and I have two of these "hands-off" midwives right now (two because of a scheduling snafu around my due dates). They've both said from the beginning that it's all about me and what I want, and I believe they mean it, but things have been started to set off my warning bells. For example, they'll say contradictory things about my hemoglobin levels -- one says it's great, the other worries. The few blood tests I had they didn't explain the importance of to me beforehand (only afterwards) and for whatever reason I just went with the flow and didn't ask. They aren't pushing the hardcore stuff like GBS and GTT, but they're suddenly much more concerned about having me sign waivers to refuse them. The breaking point for me is that I've been measuring slightly small but within range for over a month, and now I'm officially measuring "too" small by like 1-2 cm. My primary midwife (#1) sees no problem with it since I'm gaining plenty of weight still, I'm totally healthy in every way, my uterus is pretty clearly more deep than tall, baby's moving plenty, and there's pretty obviously plenty of fluid in there if you feel my belly. Midwife #2, on the other hand, has been fretting about it since I was only 1.5 cm behind, even said something about it possibly risking me out for homebirth (and she's supposed to be the real renegade!). So I was starting to think I got duped on the "hands-off" thing.

So I finally called midwife #1 today and said I was worried that while she's out of town next week, this whole thing will come to a head with midwife #2. I'm so glad I asked, because it turns out there's something of a witch-hunt going on with the state midwifery board, and they're both under scrutiny for controvercial but well-handled and good-outcome births. So they're both covering their butts where they can, and that's at the root of all this. I feel so much better knowing this. I could sense something weird was going on, and I know they didn't want to burden me with it, but it was burdening me indirectly. Midwife #1 suggested we could settle things if I get another ultrasound just to check, and I said okay. I'm not thrilled about that, but it will ease my mind if the issue is put to rest. It's still totally not cool that it's affecting me and my birth, but knowing where they're coming from helps me understand their side and deal with it.

Hope I'm not out of line posting... all of this has made me a UC-wannabe. At this point, unless something ridiculous happens, I'm just not up to changing plans. But maybe next time.
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#19 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 10:53 PM
 
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I do think that a hands-off Midwife is NOT a oxymoron....I have attended plenty of births where the MW was "hands-off".

Again, depending on your wishes...hands "on" might be a wonderful thing too.

I have been at births where the birthing mama..felt it was lovely, helpful and sacred to be touched by her partner AND her doula and MW in ways to assist during labor and birth, some women find comfort from others a GOOD thing.

I think there are all different types of women and their needs vary..some women don't even want their partner present and some women want to be surrounded by women they find comforting.

Mary
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#20 of 81 Old 08-01-2006, 11:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boscopup
There are some midwives who will just sit across the room or in another room until/unless they're needed for something. That's what I'd call "hands-off". Or maybe they're there, but are doing more doula-like things, like massage and such.
With my first birth, the onlt time I really made progress was when my midwives left me alone and I couldn't get them to do that until I was exhausted from trying everything to get labor rolling (I had maybe 12 hours of active labor, 2 of pushing, 20 minutes of effective pushing) and i had to insist multiple times that I needed to rest :
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#21 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 01:00 PM
 
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I do think that part ofthe issue is that in crunchy circles (like MDC for example), hands-off is regarded as an essential characteristic of a good midwife. The terms 'hands off" and "good" are almost interchangeable.

My midwife follows her client's lead--and my birth was definitely not hands off. Some here (not only the UC forum, but MDC in general) seem to assume that that means she was a bad midwife, took control, etc.

Fact is, I requested she be more hands on--posterior baby, asked for massage and guidance about positioning, etc. She left the room several times in attempts to follow my previously stated wishes to be mostly alone--and I kept dragging her back in.

In fact, DH and I had been planning on UC for subsequent babies, but we liked our relatively hands-on homebirth so much that now we're not sure what we want. We'll probably go woth the same midwives, but we just moved further away, so we'll be more on our own in any case. To us, there's no longer much point to a hands off midwife (except maybe in the case of a greater risk pg, where some sort of monitoring might be desirable?) We liked our birth specifically bc of the hands-on massage and positioning help I got.
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#22 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 02:31 PM
 
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YEP.....
I think the issue is....if you want a MW...that she is respectful to your wishes. IF you want someone sitting on her hands in a corner only stepping in for a dire situation or a MW that is touching you, massaging you etc....that they tune in to your desires for your birth. Every women is different and her needs are too.

Mary

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#23 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 02:57 PM
 
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The problem I see with making a post like this on a UC board is that everyone who loved her midwife, or who loves midwives in general, needs to pipe up about how wonderful midwives can be. Which, well that's nice, but what's the point of saying so on a UC board? You might as well talk about how wonderful your proctologist is (regardless of how hands on or off s/he is) - I mean that's nice but a proctologist isn't any more relevant to a UC than a midwife.

Returning to lurkdome,

Beebs
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#24 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 03:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by beebaweewa
The problem I see with making a post like this on a UC board is that everyone who loved her midwife, or who loves midwives in general, needs to pipe up about how wonderful midwives can be. Which, well that's nice, but what's the point of saying so on a UC board? You might as well talk about how wonderful your proctologist is (regardless of how hands on or off s/he is) - I mean that's nice but a proctologist isn't any more relevant to a UC than a midwife.
I think the point is that there is an attitude among some women that "my midwife was so hands-off it was *almost* a UC." It comes down to the discussion of what constitutes UC. For example, I think that if I were a dyed-in-wool UC-er expecting triplets, I might want someone to care for the babies while I finished birthing--would that make it non-UC? Is it a UC if there's a doula? A midwife in the next room? On call?

Perhaps some bona fide UC-ers will call me out of this, but it seems to me that this board isn't just for UC-ers to talk about how pointless midwives are but for people interested in UC in general. I have participated in this board on and off because i'm interested inthe issue of how much I the principles behind UC and would like to try it but have reservations currently the issue of how well my hands-on birth went and if I really wnat to abnadon that model in favor of an unknown that is still theroretical to me.
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#25 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 03:25 PM
 
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I think having this discussion on the UC board is very relevant.

For me, I had a MW for only one of my births. She was a "hands off" MW. That is what I wanted. That is what I got. But the relevance to UC is that if I had not had such a "hands off" MW I might never have considered UC. It was because of my experience with her (and again, it was a good, positive experience) that I choose UC for subsequent births!

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they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#26 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kidzaplenty
For me, I had a MW for only one of my births. She was a "hands off" MW. That is what I wanted. That is what I got. But the relevance to UC is that if I had not had such a "hands off" MW I might never have considered UC. It was because of my experience with her (and again, it was a good, positive experience) that I choose UC for subsequent births!
yes yes yes! exactly! if i believed my MW rescued me and i was too weak, too scared, had too little of a pelvis, etc then i doubt i would have the confidence in my body and my baby that i do today.

i believe the path to UC (or not) is sometimes a curving path. some here have had c/s, some OBs, some CNMs, some lay MWs, and some had UC's with the first babe.

One point that drew me to the UC forum is the belief that care providers can override a woman's ability to tune into herself, and tune out the world. i believe women have an innate knowledge and bility to birth their own babies. By posting about how my friend enjoyed her "hands off" MW while I would have been enraged due to all the interference, is a UC topic because it hinders the birthing mother to birth.

Yes, non-uc'rs posts are welcome, I think it is important to remember this is the UC forum though. We can read a lot of "The MW saved my baby" or "i couldn't have done it without her" posts throughout Mothering, throughout media, throughout the world. What we can't always get is an intelligent and wise discussion about UC. Thank you ALL for adding to that. It's so very valuable to hear what you have to say.

Beebs, I laughed at the proctologist!

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#27 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 03:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Spark
One point that drew me to the UC forum is the belief that care providers can override a woman's ability to tune into herself, and tune out the world. i believe women have an innate knowledge and bility to birth their own babies. By posting about how my friend enjoyed her "hands off" MW while I would have been enraged due to all the interference, is a UC topic because it hinders the birthing mother to birth.

Yes, non-uc'rs posts are welcome, I think it is important to remember this is the UC forum though. We can read a lot of "The MW saved my baby" or "i couldn't have done it without her" posts throughout Mothering, throughout media, throughout the world. What we can't always get is an intelligent and wise discussion about UC.
See, these two paragraphs sum up why I still lurk here after my wonderful assisted birth. I don't think my midwife saved me or that I could have done it without her. But I really enjoyed the massage, the help with positioning, etc.

On the other hand, I feel very deeply that the presence of others inherently changes birth in a less than positive way. My challenge for future births is whether the comfort of massage and help with moving around is worth the inevitable changes brought about by the presence of someone else. I chose not to have DH around for most of my labor because I felt his presence would be more interfering than a mdwife's, since I feel strongly protective towards him.

This is why I say that I don't see the point (for me) of a hands-off midwife. Her presence is a negative. The actual physical help she gave was a positive. Do I want to get rid of that first negative but lose the very strong positive of the help I received? If future babies are better positioned, I can see not needing/wanting that help. We may just hire the midwife for future births but only call if difficulties coping with labor arise. But to me, if I'm not gonna get active, physical helpl, there is no point in losing that very strong positive factor of being totally unobserved and unihibited.
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#28 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 03:53 PM
 
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I think it is very relevant...perhaps I'm seeing the big picture here..but to me, whether or not you UC is a choice as well as whether or not you have a MW vs. a hands off MW....if you do CHOOSE to have a MW...what are your wishes for the birth? IF she is there in the next room or camping out in the woods..and you still birth alone....you are birthing unassisted....

Bottom line, are your choices/wishes being heard?

Also...I really appreciate those of you that have had good experiences with a MW who supports MW births but have gone on to UC. I think it is important to understand that a woman is no less a woman...if she chooses to have assistance for her birth. I think the tone here sometimes gets a bit funky regarding birth attendants. Just as you want the right to birth UC, some women want the right to birth with a MW. We should ALL be supportive of MW attended births for our sisters of the would who have OBs deliver their babies. Birthing at home with or without a MW needs to be a viable option for ALL.
Mary
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#29 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 04:05 PM
 
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The problem I see with making a post like this on a UC board is that everyone who loved her midwife, or who loves midwives in general, needs to pipe up about how wonderful midwives can be.
Or, that it's valid for women to want to birth with a midwife. I don't understand why these points continue to pop up here on the UC forum, when nobody is saying anything to the contrary.

To the OP: I think when people say "hands-off" they usually don't literally mean it, just like when people say "unassisted" they usually don't literally mean it. I refer to my last birth as unassisted even though my husband did things for me, because he's not a medical professional and didn't do generally midwifey things. In the same way, I refer to my last midwife as "hands-off" even though she did touch me and the baby and offer suggestions (and unfortunately bring her biases and fears to the birth,) because the birth wasn't managed and guided anywhere near the degree that homebirths usually are.

But yeah, the woman in your example, you have to wonder what she regarded as "hands-off" about her midwife?
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#30 of 81 Old 08-02-2006, 04:13 PM
 
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For me, "hands off" really does mean "hands off". My MW touched me like 3 times durring my labor and birth.

Also, for me, "unassisted" really does mean "unassisted". For my last birth, UC, I had my husband there (for "moral support"). I walked and labored where I choose. And when the time came for the acutal birth, I climbed into our tub (dry tub-padded with towels and "squishey stuff") and pushed and birthed our baby by myself. My DH was there, and he did "sorta" catch our son (he just held the head while the body was delivered), but mostly, our son was birthed right into the tub in my "safe place/nest" that I had chosen.

Perhaps some have UCs where they are just assisted by others and not medically trained people, but I really like my UCs.

Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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