My birth story (Baby 1 - Anandi)
Updated: Nov 12, 2022
I believe everything finds its own way to work itself out. I know firsthand that times are difficult for pregnant women right now given the COVID19 pandemic. My first daughter was born April 2020, just a month after COVID19 restrictions were implemented. It’s important for pregnant women to know their options and be comfortable with whatever decision they make.
I'm not your typical obstetrician-gynecologist (Ob Gyn). I have never had a cavity, never had surgery, never taken any antibiotics, or even tylenol or ibuprofen. I relied primarily on chiropractic care (my dad) and prevention to maintain my health over my life. During my Ob Gyn residency at the University of New Mexico, I trained with certified nurse midwives (CNMs) who practice evidence-based obstetrics in a hospital setting for low risk women. CNMs are nurses that have complete further training in graduate school in midwifery.
As an Ob Gyn, I realized early on the fears I have regarding birthing my own child. After all, my profession had exposed me to all the most severe and life threatening complications of pregnancy, labor and birth including abnormal pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, hemorrhage, uterine rupture, shoulder dystocia, emergency cesarean sections for fetal distress, preeclampsia, stillbirth... need I go on? The two years before I was pregnant with my first child, I worked as an Ob hospitalist at night. This involved taking care of all emergency room consults that were Ob Gyn related, and delivering patients on L&D (labor and delivery) as well as assisting other physicians with emergencies. There were many times in the labor room where I witnessed birth trauma. A study showing that 1 in 6 moms felt mistreated while laboring or after is not surprising to me. I was exposed to birth trauma regularly. I initially looked only at a hospital setting for my natural childbirth to have access to life saving blood transfusion if necessary. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that the safest places to labor and deliver are accredited birth centers and hospitals.
I realized early on that I needed a “high touch, low intervention” support team to guide me through my pregnancy and sought out hospital-based CNMs. I established care with a private group but found the visits to be rushed and impersonal. I needed continuity but instead was told I was going to meet everyone in the group at different visits, so I felt a disconnect from all the providers after meeting 5 different midwives. I wanted to check out other options, which we should be encouraged to do to find the right fit for us, so I visited an academic center that is staffed with CNMs. A lovely midwife at my visit told me that they are short staffed and there were times on L&D where no midwife would be available, and I would be delivered by the resident team. Additionally, I would see someone different at every visit, just like at the private group. I decided this was not going to provide the support I needed so I set up another appointment to see the private midwife group to give them a second chance. Upon arriving I was told I had my appointment cancelled last minute and was shuffled into the financial department office and was told 10 weeks prior to my estimated delivery that they would not let me see their midwife group unless I committed to delivering there and paid an upfront delivery fee copay. They were now requesting the money earlier than the usual and previously stated 4 weeks prior to my estimated delivery solely because they found out I was seeking a second opinion. After having the appointment cancelled last minute, and feeling pressured to settle with them, I lost all trust in this group to provide the support I needed during the remainder of my pregnancy and birth. I decided to seek options out of the hospital setting.
Meanwhile my fears of ending up with an emergency cesarean section or experiencing a complication continued to mount, so I joined a natural childbirth class and found a supportive hypnobirthing instructor. My instructor emphasized how the way we think affects the way our birth will be and we worked on ways to calm my unfounded fears of childbirth. She knew of out of hospital birthing options in the area and recommended I check out a couple accredited birthing centers. At my first visit with the accredited birth center that I chose to deliver at, I felt supported and involved in the decision making process. The CNMs practice evidence based childbirth and even take care of the newborn for the first 28 days of life. I was not rushed through visits and was able to spend ample time building a relationship with the midwife. My first visit was nearly 2 hours! The backup hospital was only two miles away, a four minute drive. I finally found my birthing team! The practice had only two CNMs that I got to know well over the remainder of my pregnancy and one of them was always on call.
On my daughters birthing day, at 41 weeks and 1 day, I felt nothing but support and love the entire time. My baby was monitored intermittently, which is a practice that is very difficult for
hospitals to implement even though data shows it to be an effective way of monitoring babies in low risk women. I was not tethered to an IV and was able to move around a generous sized room complete with a deep and a large tub. After laboring for several hours, I pushed on hands and knees position and delivered my 8 pound, 3 ounce baby girl, Anandi, in a gorgeous waterbirth. My mother, sister and incredible Man-Doula (my husband) were able to be with me throughout the entire labor and delivery process and I was discharged home 4 hours after my birth. My RN from my delivery then came to my home for a visit a couple days later to check in on me and Anandi and make sure all was well.
I would not have changed anything about my pregnancy, labor and birth. Everything happens for a reason and I am so grateful for ending up in an accredited birth center and out of the hospital. I feel like I made the best decision to start my family out at an accredited birth center. Instead of a feared cesarean, I had a drug-free birth with a patient, supportive, and competent nurse midwife. I couldn’t have dreamed of anything else.