The answer is obviously YES, we can! We had our baby Zachary at home, in our garden tub. In the water. In 1999! And my OB/GYN husband caught our little man.
At the time of Zachary’s birth, we were living in Indiana. In Indiana at that time, home birth midwives were not recognized and were considered “illegal.” No matter what your training was. So I did a lot of births either under the radar or in the hospital as a doula. At the time doulas were also looked at with an “evil eye.” We weren’t very welcome in most hospitals, and it was truly a struggle to help our clients have the birth experience they were hoping for. To do my DONA doula training I had to attend 3 hospital births and get reviews from the labor and delivery nurses. It was a struggle to get a good review in that environment. Especially when the OB was not your husband. This was during the time of high episiotomy rates, immediate cord clamping, baby to the warmer instead of the chest, and almost everyone birthing in stirrups. Sometimes with a “sterile” drape over their legs. Weird, right? It was. So I tried to only work with pregnant people who were patients of Erik’s. And then I would make him come in special for them so I wouldn’t have to get the other OB on call. It worked out terrible for our home life. I had a regular babysitter on speed dial.
Being a birth junkie is real. And I was one. Indiana was never where we planned to stay forever, it was just a stepping stone to our forever home. In 2000, we moved to Madison, Wisconsin and Erik started working for UW Health as an OB/GYN and attending physician for the UW residency program. And *I* found an amazing midwife community and started practicing again as a midwife within the first year.
For Erik and I, talking birth at home was basically just our norm. It is an amazing feeling as a midwife to have a supportive, kind, genuinely caring OB to chat with daily. Someone you trust to bounce ideas off of without judgement. One of the best things about our relationship was that he would ask me questions just as much as I would ask him. If he was on call and had a patient with a complex labor, he would call me and ask me what I thought. We were both ridiculously into optimal fetal positioning as it related to labor patterns and cesareans. Funky positioned babies were our thing. As was being amazing at figuring out babies position through moms belly. A few weeks ago I was at a birth and someone brought in an ultrasound machine to figure out baby position — as in is the baby sunny side up or not. And I laughed. Because I already knew the baby was right occiput posterior (baby’s head is facing the front of moms left thigh (sort of), if that makes any sense. I could tell because mom asked me to feel her belly to see what position baby was in prior to them bringing in the dumb machine. I’m still laughing about this. And it’s not out of arrogance. I can teach anyone easily how to be amazing at figuring out babies position. One of my favorite resources to send to pregnant clients is Spinning Babies Belly Mapping link:
Truly easy peasy. And empowering!
There is so much more to our story, but I will save those for other blog posts. I fundamentally believe that obstetricians and midwives can and should not only collaborate together, but actually befriend and trust one another. Because it really is possible. Erik was a wonderful obstetrician. He truly cared about his patients. He checked his physician ego at the door. And that is what truly has to happen to change the direction that maternal/fetal health is going. Because it’s not going well here. And it needs to get better. The research has always pointed to a collaborative practice with midwives taking care of all low risk birthing people and obstetricians being involved in only the high risk scenarios. It was Erik’s dream to be involved in such a practice. Maybe someday through me, I can make that dream a reality.