(with Jen Blanchard, mama of 3) Jen didn’t know … “Should I use a doctor or midwife for my birth?”
She didn’t give a lot of thought to who her healthcare provider would be during pregnancy and birth. She said “alright, I’ll go with this Dr. Kuhnz- he’s a family friend & he’s been practicing forever, sounds perfect!“
Not so much. Jen never knew all the options she had during pregnancy and birth. And now, looking back, she sure wishes she did, because she would’ve made a lot of different decisions along the way and during birth.
Sure she “knew of” of midwives before baby #1, but she thought they “delivered babies in caves or something“. She had no idea midwives were experts in normal childbirth. She didn’t have a clue why anyone would ever consider a midwife- OR- that they were an option.
She never knew about all the proven medical evidence from highly reputable medical institutions showing how midwifery model of care offers serious benefits and safe care to those who prefer a more “nurturing” style of care.
She never heard about this study on midwives, involving over 12,276 births, that shows midwifery lead care helps women have a greater chance of going into labor without being induced, improved breastfeeding success, have less chance for a forceps or vacuum delivery, have a lower chance for episiotomy, etc.
But by her third baby, she knew she wanted a change. So she dug in, did some research, talked to people & made a switch. This time, she found a midwife.
Jen candidly shares why the traditional “one-size-fits-all” pregnancy & childbirth approach backfired for her. She also describes why relying on her doctor as her primary source of information, instead of being educated herself was a big mistake.
And that mistake might mean permanent discomfort.
Jen opens up & wants you to learn from her experience, so you can avoid her same situation. It was easily avoidable.
You’ll Also Learn:
- Why & how having a ‘well-rounded’ approach to care can make you feel empowered, nurtured & confident.
- Why finding a provider who cares enough to ASK “what do you want?” & then says “I’m gonna work hard to get you what you want” was so crucial for her feeling confident during pregnancy & birth.
- Why finding a provider who is the “right fit” for you is muy importante. Jen gives really helpful tips on how to do that, because it’s not always easy to figure out on your own.
Who is Jen Blanchard?
Jen Blanchard is the mama of 3 kiddos & had three very unique childbirth experiences. Jen and her family live in North Carolina. She’s a die hard Michigan Wolverine fan…just kidding, she’s an Ohio State Buckeye fan.
Watch This Class (or download MP3)
Share your thoughts below…
Jen Blanchard-OBs & Midwives
Sarah Blight: Hi, this is Sarah Blight with “Your Baby Booty” interviews, where we cut through the fluff and get straight to the things that you want to know and need to know as you become a mom. So, what’s the difference between OBs and midwives? Really, what’s the real difference? Let’s hear from a mom, who’s actually had both experiences. She’s had babies delivered with OBs, she’s had a baby delivered with a midwife, and we’re going to hear from her directly about her experience so that you can make a decision for yourself about what might be right for you. So tonight we’re chatting with Jen Blanchard, she’s the mama of 3 kiddos, and like I mentioned, she’s had three different birth experiences. She had an OB who delivered her first two kids, and then she had a midwife who delivered her third. So thanks Jen for being with us today.
Jen Blanchard: Hi Sarah.
Sarah Blight: So tell us, what is the one thing that you wish you would have known as a first time mom going into child birth?
Jen Blanchard: There are really two things, I really think that I wish I would have known, that there were other options out there. I kind of thought there was the one side, fits all, you just go and to—and OB/GYN, and that’s who you deliver a baby with and I just didn’t know that there were any other options, and I think that because our first child was unexpected and somewhat of a shock, I was just kind of like—I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t educated and our OB was a friend of the family and I thought, “Sure! Why not?” and—so I didn’t know that there were any other options out there.
I sure really wish that I knew there were options other than just having your typical OB/GYN experience. And then I also wish that I would have known more about midwives. I kind of had the impression of midwives, that they delivered babies, kind of—again, in a cave on a dirt, covered with—like, candle lit experience, didn’t really know about them at all, and so I think we had a great third experience with a midwife, but really wish I would have understood what they did and wish I would have understood that there were options other than just an OB/GYN practice.
Sarah Blight: So it sounds like you are alike a lot of women, you just kind of go into it, just assuming—yeah, like you said, you said it well, one size fits all. So how did your experiences—you have the same OB/GYN who delivered your first two babies. How was that experience different from your third, and we’re going to get to how you made the decision to switch in the second—but what were the initial differences that you noticed or just the experience?
Jen Blanchard: Biggest difference with my first, the first baby, you know, went in, had a ton of questions, and I’ve always been a person that educates myself, love to read, love to know what’s going on, so of course I dove right into all that information, but I still thought that my main source of education would be from my doctor, and that—I was really disappointed, that was just not the case. I was scared, think we had a great support system at home but I went in and had a ton of questions, had a list in front of me, and I will just never forget stopping my OB/GYN like halfway out the door, you know, and is 5-minute, like little, you know, appointment with me, and he’s halfway out the door and I said, “Wait! I have a question” and he said, “Sure!” and I think I asked my first question, he was like, “Okay, so—yeah, that’s it, so see you next month” and he went out the door and here I am, my list of ten other questions that I never had answered.
And so—and we can talk about this a little bit later, but the difference with the midwife, sat down, you know, put her arm around the table and said, “What questions do you have?” and sat and chatted with me for an hour. So that was the biggest difference that I experienced right away and—but with my first baby, you know, didn’t have a ton of questions, just didn’t really feel like I had the time, the attention, it—really the nurses or the OB/GYN, but throughout the pregnancy, I didn’t really have any expectation of what the next month would bring or what the next trimester would bring. I really had to find that out all on my own, and I think that that’s okay, I’m sure most of us women are very resourceful, but I didn’t really have any help in that department, and then the birthing difference is—were very different, very unexpecting, so don’t—not that something we want to go into now, but very different.
Sarah Blight: Yeah, let’s chat just briefly about that, because I think that’s something that’s definitely applicable to our topic tonight. What were your worthing differences? Obviously, let’s just kind of lump your first two, obviously those were unique experiences as every baby born is a unique experience, but just for the sake of time, um, what were your first two experiences like compared to the third?
Jen Blanchard: Right, and again, having—going my first baby, had no idea what to expect, I did not know at all that the doctor, the OB/GYN—OB’s my OB/GYN, and I want to give a disclaimer or two that I’m sure that there are some OB/GYNs that maybe spend more time in the delivery room, labor and delivery room than mine did. I’m sure that there are some midwives that maybe can’t spend as much time in the delivery room as mine did, but my experience was that—I always, my OB/GYN came in to catch and stitch. [Laughter] and then to catch and stitch.
The nurses were really the ones that were in B—labor and delivery room with me the whole time, and thankfully I had a great labor and delivery nurse through my first two birthing experiences, but really, that’s just a crapshoot to be [0:05:22][Inaudible] and I’m sure you can say this to as—many other women can too. If there’s some wonderful nurses out there, there are some not so good ones, and so it’s a crapshoot, you know, with an OB/GYN’s office because they are—your OB/GYN is running around, doing C- sections, he’s got other patients. My OB/GYN had appointments back at the, you know, the office, and he was running back and forth from [0:05:42][So healer?], he was just there to catch and stitch and that was it. So there was not a whole lot of support there.
There was also not following a birth plan, and my first baby, I didn’t have a birth plan, I didn’t know what that was. I didn’t know what I needed to be concerned about, but I found out really fast that I needed to really understand about episiotomies. I didn’t understand that my OB/GYN, as with most OB/GYNs from my knowledge, they just are used to doing episiotomies no matter what, whether they are a necessity or not, so I had two very, very bad experiences with episiotomies. With the healing of them with my first child, um, had a really nasty hematoma afterwards, which is basically a huge blood clot, vaginal blood clot. I went home with an external drain because of this hematoma, so—I thought that was kind of fluke, but the second time, the episiotomy was cut too far and so that actually went up into my large intestine and I’ve had problems that I will have until I have a surgical procedure after I’m done having babies, I’m told I would need to have a surgical procedure to fix and repair the damage that the episiotomy took. So, it’s just really frustrating—actually with the second baby too, that I said, “Okay, can we not do an episiotomy unless it’s absolutely necessary” and he was kind of like, “Oh, okay, well, we’ll see”. It was just standard procedure for that office to do episiotomies, so…
Sarah Blight: So knowing, knowing what you know now about that, how would you do that differently?
Jen Blanchard: I would absolutely—that’s where the midwife practice was different, and that’s where—again, don’t know that every midwife is as great as the office—you know, the midwives that I went to, but they literally care about what’s important to you. They want to be as less invasive as possible, I’m even not one of those people that has been concerned about being invasive or not, but the fact is, is your recovery, um, when you have more invasive procedures is so much longer, and honestly can have life- long implications versus non- invasive procedures. So, the midwife, um, I—we discussed when I had my third child and went to see the midwife, we discussed kind of my past experiences and how I’d really, unless it’s absolutely medically necessary to do an episiotomy, this is why I don’t want to do it, and they were like, “Oh! Absolutely not, we would not want to do that.”
We walked through a birth plan, you know, the midwives sat with me for an hour at a time and talked about, kind of, how he’s doing an what we wanted the birth experience to be, knowing of course that it can’t ever be the way, minute by minute, the way you want it to be, but here’s out game plan. Um, and it actually went pretty close to plan, so the midwife was with me, pretty much the entire labor and delivery, which went fast, so I’m not going to, you know—I know that [0:08:35][Phonetic] midwife can’t be there and hours and hours of labor, but mine had very fast, my third—my third delivery, she was there the whole time. She massaged my perineum area, so no PG—I mean, I’m not [0:08:48][Phonetic] at all. She made—facilitated and absolute amazing experience where, um, I had little to no recovery and of course, no [0:08:57][Phonetic] situations with [0:08:59][Phonetic] afterwards, so biggest two differences are support during labor and delivery, support and kind of an understanding, mutual agreement and support—I think the biggest thing is not only in understanding of what a mom wants, but for either an OB/GYN or a midwife to not only say, “Yeah, I did, that’s what you want” but to also say “I’m going to work hard to make sure that that’s what – we did to the best of our ability” and that’s the difference.
I felt like my OB/GYN was like, “Oh, sure, yeah, well… yeah. You know, maybe no if he’s [0:09:33][Phonetic]”. I had a midwife who said, “This is what we’re going to do, to do our best to not have an episiotomy, to not have, you know, an epidural, to not have these things. I am going to work hard to do this, cause this is what you want”. Those are the two biggest differences between my OB/GYN experience and midwife, for sure.
Sarah Blight: So, um, at what point did you kind of become aware that midwives weren’t in a cave somewhere on a third world kind of—in a third world country, and that they were actually a viable option for you? When did you just figure that out?
Jen Blanchard: It was toward the end of my second pregnancy, unfortunately, and I even had to think in the beginning of my third trimester, with my husband, I even discussed switching to a midwife early third trimester of the second baby. We thought, “Nah.” Next child we knew we were going to have more than two, you know, we’ll look into that, but we were honestly having some concerns and some thoughts about… Wow! Midwives, you know, they do deliver in hospitals, you know, if that’s what you want to do. There are so many things that can accompany, you know, maybe some of the concerns that people have about going with a midwife. Most of those can really be satisfied just as an OB/GYN would be in a hospital, but to have so much of the personal care that you can have of a midwife as well. So I kind of figured that out, um, end of my second pregnancy and I had so many people into my life that were having babies. Sisters in laws and friends who were having babies with midwives, I’m like, Wow! So you didn’t have that? You did this? She was with you how long? You know, how long did you have other [0:11:12][phonetic] because we’re supposed to meet for lunch, I thought your [0:11:14][Phonetic] was two hours ago. Yeah! My midwife sat and talked with me for two hours—that’s the difference. And so, it was really that word of mouth and in fact, the midwife that I went to was actually a recommendation from my sister in law, who had just delivered her child when I got pregnant with our third, so and I actually interviewed, kind of interviewed the midwife’s, um, unlike I had ever done before and really asked a lot of question that I really wish I would have the first time, so…
Sarah Blight: So, how did you feel walking out of that interview with the midwife?
Jen Blanchard: It felt amazing, like it was going to be different. I knew immediately it was going to be different. Um, you know, there wasn’t this doctor standing at the door, and I will also say—I don’t know what other pressures they have, whether it’s insurance companies that are, you know, demanding that they—I don’t know what it is, bang out, you know, how many patients in a day that, to me to start in a level of income, I have no idea what that’s like for them, so maybe in a perfect world, those OB/GYNs would love to sit down and chat too, so I’m not sure what’s different on that side of it, but I know that the midwives, that first appointment, sat down in a chair next to me and you could have given her a cup of coffee, she would have stayed there for two hours, um, and ask me really what I was looking for and she—it was almost kind of a two-way interview, actually, cause she was the one who said, “Well this is—this is what we’re without.
This is what’s important to us and of course, as you know, midwives are best for—you know, women who can typically have a healthy, normal, “normal” labor and delivery. Um, and so we kind of interviewed each other and really felt like we were a good match. It really felt like we wanted the same thing, so it was a great experience. And the other thing too that I learned about midwives is most insurance companies, you know, pay for a midwife care just as they would with an OB/GYN. That was something I had a misconception about too. I thought that that would probably just be out of pocket, that insurance companies wouldn’t cover midwifery care bed, most of them do, so…
Sarah Blight: So you gave birth to your third child in a hospital with midwife?
Jen Blanchard: Yes.
Sarah Blight: Right. So it was on a [0:13:20][Phonetic], so it was a hospital situation.
Jen Blanchard: Correct.
Sarah Blight: So was there an OB back- up or how did that work with the midwife practice?
Jen Blanchard: Um, there was an OB that was just at the hospital and who was just on- call, on- staff to do an emergency section if needed, but the c- section would be the only thing that the midwife could not do.
Sarah Blight: Right.
Jen Blanchard: Um, pretty much everything else she was ready to do as needed. So, the C-section was the only thing, but that was not needed, so it was great. And the other great thing about the midwives too, there were 8 in this practice…
Sarah Blight: Wow.
Jen Blanchard: So again, maybe, with other midwife practices there aren’t as many, but with the OB/GYN practice there were only two doctors and then a trained nurse in the [0:14:06][Phonetic] so, um, when there would be a – this phone ringing—um…
Sarah Blight: It’s okay.
Jen Blanchard: When they would be a, um, an emergency c-section that was needed by one of those OB/GYNs, they would have to leave all their patients in the waiting room and reschedule appointments to go take care of that C-section, reschedule appointments and what not—with the midwives, we—there would be like two midwives that were on call or that were at the hospital, and then 6 other ones that were just having appointments, so there was not that interruption of care, both in the appointments and at the hospital, so that the two midwives that were on call at the hospital could be with the patients at the hospital, and then the midwives that were in the office having appointments didn’t need to interrupt that schedule either, so that really worked out really well.
Sarah Blight: So did you have an opportunity to meet with all the midwives during your care? Did you kind of get to at least meet them or have an idea of who they were?
Jen Blanchard: Yeah, I met with most of them. I think there were two that I didn’t meet with, and those two worked very part- time, they had some small children too, so they worked very part- time so—kind of when I was making my appointments and asking about that and, you know, I could have tried to make an appointment with one of them, but the chances of me actually delivering with one of them—because their on- call schedule was so—they were not as on call as much the others were—it’s very slim. So the—it was so cool, the midwife that I actually delivered with was the one that I met with the most, so I think that that was a really cool thing, it doesn’t happen all the time, but I was full for it, so.
Sarah Blight: Okay, so there’s a lot of women who say, “You know what? It doesn’t really matter, you know, how baby gets here. All I want is a healthy baby”. As someone who’s been through, you know, three different births and three different experiences, what would you say to your friend if she said that?
Jen Blanchard: I said that too. That would be the first thing I said, is that I said that too, and I still say that that’s the bottom line, that’s the most important thing, but there are so many things in a grand spectrum of important topics when it comes to pregnancy, labor and delivery, and there are so many things with every—with all three of my babies, pregnancies, there were different things about every single one of them, so to be able to feel comfortable with talking to the person or people or team who is going to deliver your baby about your questions and about what is going on, the difference of being able to talk to them versus not talk to them and kind of partner with them in your pregnancy, means the world. It means the world, at least for me, meant the world in terms of my whole pregnancy, how I felt about it, how confident I felt about it, how nervous or not nervous I was, and then literally, in terms of the after effects that I had of the episiotomies and some of the invasive things that happened with the OB/GYN, they’re going to be life- long effects that I don’t think had to be. So are they life threatening? In most cases no. Are they uncomfortable? Yeah. And did they have to be? Absolutely not. So, you know, yes, most important thing is your health and your baby’s health, but, you know, there are so many other things that are more important, I mean, just as important, and having that kind of partnership with the midwife—and if you find that with an OB/GYN, I think that’s a rare thing, could be a great thing, but to make sure that your OB/GYN is heard, hears you and that you have a partnership and you feel like all of your questions are answered, that’s why I’d only found that with a midwife group.
Sarah Blight: It sounds like, for you, it was a little bit more well- rounded as opposed to kind of more old school, traditional style of care.
Jen Blanchard: Right.
Sarah Blight: Um, what did you gain from your midwives? You’ve talked about this, but it’s on my list here. What did you gain from your midwives that you didn’t necessarily kind of gain from your OB?
Jen Blanchard: Um, I definitely felt more supported, mind, body, spirit, and I’ve never been one to be, you know, all about, “Ooh, mind, body, spirit” [0:18:14][sever?] just be kind of like, yeah, give me the practical stuff. But mind, body, spirit in terms of being emotionally supported, my midwives would say “How are you doing? How are you doing with the other kids while you’re pregnant? Are you sleeping? Are you doing…”—they would ask me how am I doing emotionally? Ask me all these questions, I felt like, wow. When I had my appointment every month, I felt like I was going in—and again, being supported, not only my baby being cared for but I was being cared for physically, there was a wholeness, you know, like you said well- rounded. I was really being taken care of, so I gained that from them, I gained a whole lot of knowledge from all of the midwives.
Again about why things are, and, you know, less invasive procedures, why they’re important. And again, you know, these debates can go on with women, and they will go on and they’re forever. And they’re at least, why and, you know, so many people don’t care as much, and for the most part it’s probably okay, um, but these debates would go on forever, but there are reasons why—again, life- long reasons that maybe we won’t understand ‘til we’re 67 years old. “Oh I wish I would have done that!”
Sarah Blight: Yeah.
Jen Blanchard: That are important to know now, so I got an education with the midwives, and that was awesome.
Sarah Blight: What did you gain from your OB/GYN experience that you maybe didn’t gain from your midwife?
Jen Blanchard: That’s tough. Um, I don’t know that there was anything that specifically that I got from my OB/GYN that I didn’t get from the midwives, but I’m sure that there were some things given at my first GNY, second pregnancies were with, um, the OB/GYN, but really, the midwife, everything that they did, I had re-learned some things, you know, from the—Just because the time, the time that they spent with mea, when you only have ten minutes, maybe even only 5 of that is actually with your OB/GYN.
Sarah Blight: Yeah.
Jen Blanchard: Um, you know, in an appointment every month, um, you know, I really do feel like there were some great things—my OB/GYN was a great person, loves—so that is a person, I don’t think I really gained anything from that experience that was literally just a, you know…
Sarah Blight: Yeah.
Jen Blanchard: Patching and stitching, so…
Sarah Blight: [Laughter]
Jen Blanchard: You know.
Sarah Blight: Well if you have another baby, what kind of provider—are you likely to go back with your midwives, or what kind of provider are you likely to go with again and why?
Jen Blanchard: Well, absolutely, same midwife group as long as we’re [0:20:38][Phonetic] time with them and for whatever reason, we would, you know, move to a different area, I would go through the same process in terms of looking for a midwife group that I did this past time.
Sarah Blight: Yeah, let’s talk about that. You said—you mentioned a referral from your sister in law, um, is that mainly how you kind of went about researching? Did you go online? What kind of other ways would you recommend that mamas kind of find out their options as far as midwives?
Jen Blanchard: And that’s hard. As you all know, there’s so much information on the internet, and not—I did a little bit of Googling, you know, we all Google, um, I think that when—for a student to be mama, to look out there and see and not looking at the options, I think it’s important to ask a couple of questions, kind of as you’re looking for a group, is it important to you to deliver in a hospital? You know, as opposed to a, um, yeah a birthing center. So, if it’s in—if it’s absolutely important to you to deliver in a hospital, then you need to maybe Google some local hospitals in your area, and they will always have a connection to what midwives groups maybe, you know, work in their facilities from their hospital, so that’s important. I think word of mouth is huge.
Facebook and, you know, all of these great websites that we have now to interact with people, ask around because people are so passionate—especially mamas and women are so passionate about, um, saying bad things about groups and saying good things too, and so ask around, you know, get word of mouth—and also, if you find something [0:22:04][Phonetic] online, look them up! You know, ask around about them, and there are different websites that, you know, and different groups are rated, you know, on a scale of 1 to 5, you know, how good they are and why.
I would definitely, you know, look and [0:22:18][Phonetic] ask questions about the things that are important to you, and if you don’t know, ask some good friends of yours ‘what questions should I ask?’ And that’s what I wish I would have done. What questions should I ask? Um, what’s important and why, and so—and again, different things maybe important to different people, but it’s important to ask and to not think that there’s only one option, cause there are so many options.
Sarah Blight: Wow, we’re going to end on that note. That is a really good advice for all the mamas out there who are watching. If you have any thoughts or comments about your own experiences, either with midwives, with doct—with OBs, we haven’t talked about family practice doctors, but there are still some of those around who deliver babies as well, gives us your thoughts and tell us what you think. Um, if you have any questions too, jot this down as well. Thanks Jen for joining us. All you mamas, we will see you soon! See you next time, guys.
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