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7 Reasons You Should Seriously Consider Midwives

Photograph by Twenty20

One of the first things I did after getting a positive pregnancy test—after freaking out and calling my husband—was to make an appointment with a nearby midwifery practice. Though I didn't know much about midwives, a friend had used them during her pregnancy and delivery and had loved them.

Using midwives turned out to be the best thing I could do for my pregnancies and deliveries. Here are seven reasons I loved my midwives.

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1. They empowered us.

Each time I visited the certified nurse-midwives, my first task was to weigh myself and enter the information in my chart. Similarly, they had me swab my own lady parts for the Group B strep test. Being in charge of these simple chores made me feel like I was an active participant in my own care, and it was surprisingly empowering.

2. They were tactful.

Though I was 37 during my second pregnancy, my midwives never uttered that terrible phrase every older mother dreads: advanced maternal age.

They helped us feel like we had a semblance of control during a very unpredictable time.

3. My midwives viewed my mental health as a priority.

My midwives supported my difficult decision to continue taking antidepressants throughout both of my pregnancies. Taking meds while pregnant and breastfeeding was something I struggled with mightily, and my midwives encouraged me to drop the guilt. "We might not know exactly what a mom taking antidepressants does to a developing baby," one of them gently said to me, "but we do know that having a depressed mom can be harmful."

4. They helped us build community.

About halfway through my pregnancy, our midwives gave us the choice of continuing to come to our regular appointments or switching over to their innovative group care model. We chose the group care route, where our birth education and appointments took place with several other couples whose babies were due the same month as ours. Together, we sat and watched the slightly terrifying birth videos, learned about options for pain relief and broached the specters of postpartum depression and postpartum sex. Attending the groups helped normalize all the questions and concerns that I had, while also providing a built in community of new parents. I'm still good friends with one of the other moms from the group, seven years later.

5. They gave us choices.

When one of the midwives discovered that my amniotic fluids were leaking several days after my due date, she gave us a number of choices ranging from taking castor oil at home to heading straight to the hospital to be induced. No matter what was going on, the midwives always stayed calm and offered us a menu of options. In turn, this helped us feel like we had a semblance of control during a very unpredictable time.

6. But we always felt safe.

The midwives, who were all certified nurse-midwives, delivered at a local hospital and offered a layer of safety in the event that a mom or baby needed medical intervention. It truly was the best of both worlds—I got supportive, low-intervention care by the midwives, while also having access to great medical care if we needed it.

7. The midwives didn't view birth—even when things got complicated—as a medical emergency.

If my son's birth hadn't been assisted by midwives, I almost certainly would've ended up with a C-section. Despite the fact that I pushed for 3 ½ hours with my son, my amazing midwife, Jen, always believed I was capable of delivering him. When I started crying, "I can't do this," after a few excruciating hours of pushing, she reminded me, "Lynn, you're the only one who can do this."

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I'm so grateful for the care I received during my pregnancy, delivery and after. Thinking about it almost—but not quite—makes me want to do it again.

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