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What is a Prenatal Visit Like?

If this is your first pregnancy or you have previously had doctors, you may be unsure what to expect. In this post we talk about a typical prenatal visit with a midwife and how it's different than going to an OBGYN.

You may have just had a positive #pregnancy test and started looking for a care provider or you may be several months into your pregnancy and investigating other options for your #prenatalcare as you plan for your impending birth. When you first meet your midwife she will spend some time getting to know you and your partner if they come with you. She will answer any questions you may have and address any concerns. She will want to know how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, and may ask questions about your diet and the other ways you are taking care of yourself and your baby.

“After going to a regular OBGYN for the first 6 months of my pregnancy I was both surprised and grateful for the amount of time she spent with me. So much more than the typical 10 minutes you get with a doctor! I felt so comfortable and cared for.”

Shortly after you arrive for each visit, you will need to pee in a cup so your #midwife can test your urine for signs of things like high blood sugar, protein, or infection. She will ask you to step on a scale, take your blood pressure, and may draw blood if you need labs. During your visit your midwife will measure the height of the top of your uterus (the fundus) and feel your belly to make sure your baby is growing and moving well. If your partner is with you, he or she may feel your baby move and listen to the heartbeat too, with the help of your midwife.

Your midwife may use either a doppler or something called a fetoscope to hear your baby's heartbeat. The fetoscope, also called a Pinard horn, is like a special stethoscope just for hearing your baby's heart and was invented by a French obstetrician in the 19th century. It is still used by midwives today because it is more precise than Doppler for determining the position of the baby (shown in the bottom right of the photo set).

How Care Is Different

We have all had the experience of being on time or even early for a doctor's appointment and having to wait a long time to be seen. A nurse takes you back, weighs you, takes your blood pressure, asks you a couple questions, and leaves you to wait for the doctor. He or she comes in for typically between 5 and 15 minutes, feels the baby, asks you a few questions and you're done. If it's a group of doctors you may see a different doctor than you saw at your previous visit. With a midwife you rarely need to wait and you are greeted and welcomed warmly, often with a hug. You won't be rushed and have plenty of time to ask questions and discuss how you are feeling. Toward the end of your pregnancy your midwife will come to your home for your prenatal visits. Your midwife will also come to your home for several visits after your baby is born.

"During the first half of my pregnancy I was preparing for a hospital birth and working with a normal practitioner, but something just didn't feel right. Each of my visits felt rushed, I was never comfortable, I was afraid to ask "simple" questions, and everything about being a new mom was completely overwhelming, especially when I felt that the focus of the hospital was to constantly warn me about everything that could go wrong."

OBGYNs are trained to care for pregnant women and are who should be caring for you if you are high risk or feel more comfortable in a hospital setting. An OBGYN is a trained surgeon who can preform a c-section in the event that you require one during labor for the safety of you and your baby. There are some conditions during pregnancy which may require you to switch care from a midwife to an OBGYN for your safety. This can include low iron, high blood pressure, hyperemesis gravardium, and a breech positioned baby. Melissa at Meadowsweet Midwifery has developed strong professional relationships with several OBGYNs in the area who she can consult with or transfer care to if needed.

What Women Love Most About Midwifery Care

They allowed me privacy and total freedom of movement during labor, without any invasive checks. They allowed me to go with the flow with my body and gave me gentle reminders throughout my process.”

The time you spend with your midwife during your prenatal appointments is usually around an hour each visit. Your midwife is working during that time not just to help you have a healthy pregnancy, but also to form a strong relationship and your trust. This relationship and deep sense of caring and trust helps many women feel safer, more relaxed, and confident that her birth plan and wishes will be honored. It also helps your midwife to understand your unique personality and needs during labor. Because she knows you, she may be able to see much sooner if you may have an issue which requires transfer long before it's an emergency.

The Big Picture

Your prenatal visits with your midwife will be like going to the doctor in some ways; checking your weight and blood pressure, being sent for an ultrasound if you need one, getting bloodwork done, and feeling your belly to check the baby. Your midwife will encourage you to take an active role in your care and is available for you by phone and email (pretty much all the time) to answer all of the questions that inevitably come up. She will listen to your concerns and do her best to honor your wishes. Your relationship will be based on respect and trust. You will be empowered and reminded that your body was made to birth!



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