Prenatal photo tour

March 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago.  We were at a baby shower, and somehow we got on the subject of belly buttons.  I mentioned that my son had a kind of funky belly button (’cause he sort of did at the time), and this friend said something like, “Could that be because of the home birth?”  I was very perplexed and said, “What do you mean?”  She asked, “What do they do with the umbilical cord?”  Then I explained that they use the same umbilical cord clamps hospitals use, and cut the cord with sterile scissors, just like they do in the hospital.

As much as I was stunned by this conversation, I have to cut my friend some slack.  Home birth really is so foreign to most people.  So there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it’s like and about midwives also.  Toward the end of my last pregnancy, I decided I’d bring my camera along and document the visit, partly for memory’s sake and partly so I could do a little bit of demystifying about midwives and home birth.

I realize that prenatal appointments are going to vary considerably depending upon who your midwife is. Some midwives come to your home for check-ups. Some have their offices in their own homes. Some have their own offices, like my midwives. I don’t presume to believe that this is the way all midwives practice. But I still thought it might be helpful to show what a typical visit is like with a home birth midwife like mine (Mary at Beyond Conception Midwifery).

So, here’s a photo tour of a February 2011 prenatal appointment with my midwives…

First of all, check out the gorgeous fish/turtle pond in the courtyard of my midwives’ office building.  My kids love to look for the turtles and fishies…

While I’m waiting to go back into the exam room, I do my own urine testing and weight check…

My kids come to every prenatal appointment with me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure my kids and my midwives would be mad at me if I didn’t bring them.  They have tons of adorable wooden toys and puzzles.  Here are some pics of the kid-friendly waiting area…

While we were waiting, my midwives were taking their time with the client before me (who was needing some extra emotional support regarding her persistently breech baby).  We didn’t mind one bit.

I love this hallway back to the exam room.  I love the olive tree art print hung at the end.  And I love the photos and birth announcements on display from the families my midwives have attended in birth…

My midwives usually have one of a few assistants/apprentices present during my prenatal appointments.  At this visit they had an apprentice named Michelle who was finishing up the last few requirements for her midwifery program.  She’s so awesome, and I’m so glad I met her. (In fact, she showed up in one of my dreams a few weeks ago. I should probably tell you all about that dream some time.) Not long after I gave birth, Michelle headed to a remote area of Mexico to help the women and babies there.  Michelle took my blood pressure, fundal height measurements, and fetal heart tones at this check-up…

With my midwives close-by to assist and double-check the numbers. You’ll also notice that my kids were right there in the thick of things. I loved how my midwives included them, spoke to them, described what was happening so they could understand, and formed a sweet relationship with them.
Then Mary felt my belly for the baby’s position.  Still head-down, still up pretty high, and hanging out on my right side.  She guessed we still had a couple of weeks. (I was glad, and she was right.) We talked for a bit, and they answered any questions I had…

Then we set up my next appointment, and they gave us balloons (one for each of my kids, including one for my daughter who was at school).  They do this at every appointment, and my kids love it…

I really did look forward to all of my midwife visits.  My midwives were my friends, my “therapists” when I needed to talk (which was a lot during my second trimester depression during my last pregnancy), and the guardians of my babies’ and my health.  Sometimes they even felt like family.

What’s a prenatal appointment like with your maternity care provider?