Last week, I talked about the option of choosing a different health care provider if you feel like yours isn't the right fit. This week, I'll talk about exploring my options and how I found my "just right."
Should I have tried to talk to my gynecologist about my discomfort with her pushing birth control on me? Yeah. But, I was at the beginning of my own journey towards informed decision making and confrontation didn't feel comfortable to me, at that time. I was only 26 and now I've blossomed in to a about-to-turn-31-year-old; I'm much more sage these days.
I saw this image pop up on my Instagram from Dara Fields of Midwifery of Austin; she was starting her own practice at the time, and receiving privileges at a local hospital to catch babies. She was now offering wellness visits in the comfort of your own home and I was immediately intrigued. We followed each other on social media for a while and I love how outspoken she is about women's health & social justice issues, transparency in her process & statistics, clinics for low income women, and her work with Giving Austin Labor Support (GALS). Knowing that her values line up with mine, and getting a feel for her personality was paramount in making a decision about picking a new provider. It had to be someone I felt wouldn't judge me for my values and lifestyle.
What actually tipped me over the edge in to finally making an appointment with her is that she now accepted my insurance. When she posted that she is accepting Blue Cross Blue Shield, I made an appointment for a 1 hour in-home visit.
"Doulie's House; Midwife Speaking."
When Dara arrived, we settled in to the one livable corner in my condo (we're in the middle of a remodel) and, even though it was my first time meeting her in person, it felt like catching up with an old friend.
We talked about gaps in body awareness and knowledge, specifically, regarding hormonal cycles & birth control, and my last experience with my care provider. She asked me about all aspects of my lifestyle: work, relationships, sleep, exercise, allergies, mental health and diet in a way that made them all interconnect to make this complete picture of Doulie.
She showed me a new model of diaphragm that I hadn't seen before, since she knew I practice fertility awareness to prevent pregnancy, and brought me some probiotic samples. She asked me about my history with pap smears and, since they all came back normal, acted like nothing was wrong with me declining one for this visit. She showed me how to do a breast self-exam, reminding me to also check my armpits since breast tissue extends towards them. She asked if I wanted one a breast exam, I said yes, and she described first what she was going to do with her hands on my body before actually doing it. Then, I got to lay down, in my own bed, while she performed the exam.
Next she drew my blood which wasn't bad at all because she let me snap this picture of her doing it. She complimented my veins (swoon), and I got to pick the blood tests that seemed more pertinent to my particular lifestyle: thyroid levels (because of workload and constantly in 'catch up' mode for sleeping), Vitamin D levels (because I don't get out in the sun enough), and blood make-up (white blood cells levels, hematocrit, red blood cell levels).
Y'all. I'm so glad that I pursued my options for my health care well before having my own babies. I love having more exposure to wombyn-led care outside of the birthing room and it's fantastic - the un-rushed appointments, empathy, integrative care, and interest in my individual needs and values have all made me an official convert.
Questions About Midwifery Care In Pregnancy and Wellness
What if I'm pregnant and I know I want a hospital birth?
No problem! There are several midwives catching babies in Austin hospitals like Midwifery of Austin, The Capital Midwife, Nurture OBGYN, and OBGYN North. These are great practices to gain midwifery care!
BUT, even if you know you want a hospital birth, you can still call a home birth midwife for a consultation. It will only strengthen your resolve in your own decision while still exploring your options. It only takes an investment of one hour PLUS getting the benefit of meeting an amazing person (srsly, midwives are dope).
Some of my favorite home birth practices are Erica Hope, Tandem Midwifery, GB Khalsa, and Melek Speros. You can also attend an Austin Home Birth Meetup, which is a gathering of families who have done or are interested in home birth and they cover various topics relating to birthing and parenting options. I would also recommend touring birthing centers (for birth and women's wellness care) like Austin Area Birthing Center, Birthwise, Central Texas Birthing Center, and Natural Beginnings.
Many home birth midwives also offer Pre-conception Counseling: an appointment with pregnancy-specific care providers based on your personal needs to start a healthy pregnancy.
What if I don't want children or not ready to have children right now?
Believe it or not, midwifery care is still an option for you! However, in Texas, to get an "official" annual exam, you have to see a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) or Certified Midwife (CM) can still do a breast exam, pap smear, and send off lab work, but the classification is going to be different.
If you're interested in the different types of midwives available, check out this article from the Midwives Alliance of North America.
Who do you see for your well wombyn's care? Have you considered midwifery as part of your non-pregnancy care?