Katie's midwifery story

Midwife helps husband throughout wife's pregnancy

It never fails. The moment you find out you are pregnant, a lot goes through your mind. Your excitement takes over, and you start wondering – boy or a girl? What will their personality be like? What kind of parent will I be? Will the pregnancy go smoothly?

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant in 2011, these feelings (along with many others) took over. Then, we started thinking about all things that needed to be done before the baby arrived. However, the first and most important to-do was scheduling an appointment at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

Being first-time parents, we did not know what to expect or, really, what we were doing. When the desk clerk at our first prenatal appointment asked us, “Will you be seeing the midwives or obstetricians?” I remember my husband and I looking at each other with confusion–we just assumed we would be seeing an obstetrician. We paused and finally asked, “What’s the difference?” Usually, my husband and I are the type of people who do a lot of research before making a decision on anything—computers, cell phones, homes, cars, careers, etc.—but on the day of our first prenatal appointment we decided, on a whim, to go with the midwives. The “What is a midwife?” research would happen later that night. Little did we know that Elizabeth Potter, the midwife we met that day, would be the same one to deliver our son.

Over the course of my pregnancy, everything was progressing beautifully with very little complications. The midwives were everything we hoped they would be–caring, knowledgeable, efficient, understanding, casual, and a great source of strength during some very anxious “new parent” moments. We felt our time during appointments was respected and not rushed.

As we got closer to delivery, I had every intention of having a natural childbirth. Our birth plan clearly stated that medication was only to be used if absolutely necessary. In fact, due to the traditional roles of midwives, we assumed having a natural childbirth was our only option. However, very early on in the pregnancy, we discovered that the midwives at UI Hospitals & Clinics were trained for both natural and medicated births. We also learned that if a surgical delivery was necessary, an obstetrician would assist our midwife. Knowing this information eased my anxieties. Even as a first-time parent, I understood that labor doesn’t always go as intended.

That is a good thing, since our son, Ethan, came into the world with a little more excitement than planned.

At 41 weeks, my husband and I, along with our midwife’s advice and support, made the decision to induce labor. At first, we took small steps, but when labor still didn’t commence, Elizabeth ordered the medication needed to begin the induction process—there was no middleman that delayed labor or the delivery of medications. Throughout my labor, Elizabeth provided helpful suggestions, including, different movements and positions to progress labor and ease my discomfort. I never felt pressured into trying something I wasn’t comfortable doing. As labor continued, my contractions became increasingly unbearable. With Elizabeth’s advice, we decided to start using medications to make labor more manageable, so I could save some of my strength for delivery. Once my pain was under control, labor was fun. My husband and I, and Elizabeth, would talk about anything to pass the time.

Things then took a turn for the worse: They discovered that our son had been exposed to meconium. Elizabeth paged the physicians for assistance. She remained focused, and in charge of the situation. She spoke to me calmly and helped me to remain as focused as possible. She delivered our son, cut the umbilical cord, and immediately passed him off to the physicians to begin suctioning his airway. During this time, I could not hear my son cry, and panic set in. I remember shaking and crying as I watched a group of doctors surround my son. Elizabeth, again, helped me to remain calm and focused as she delivered the placenta.

In a moment when I felt so helpless, I appreciated the relationship we had formed with our midwives throughout my pregnancy. Elizabeth knew what I needed from her during a stressful time–just like she knew how to engage my husband and provide me with pain management skills. Elizabeth had so many qualities that helped make the birth of our son go from exciting, to scary, to the happiest I have ever been.

Following the birth of our son, I continued to go to the midwives for my post-pregnancy check-ups, annual visits, and family planning services. In 2014, when my husband and I found out we were expecting a second child, it was an easy decision to use the midwives again for prenatal care.

My experience with the midwives during my second pregnancy was similar to my first pregnancy. We had the opportunity to meet the two new midwives who joined the team and we continued to feel comfortable and relaxed during our visits. This time around, I learned to appreciate how easy it was to schedule appointments with the midwives. After my first prenatal appointment, I was able to schedule future appointments with different midwives for the next six months—to ensure I would get to meet with all of them more than once before delivery day. As a planner, I really appreciated having one less thing to worry about.

Labor was completely differently during this pregnancy. To avoid dealing with a scary situation like we experienced with our son, we decided to have my cervical membranes stripped during a 40-week prenatal appointment. Two days later, I began active labor in my home at around 7 a.m. When we walked into the Labor and Delivery Unit at 8 a.m., I was already dilated to six. When Christina Shutters, the midwife on duty, saw me at the front desk, she could tell that I was already exhausted, feeling weak, and ready for my epidural. Christina was quick to order whatever I needed.

Much like our first labor, Christina was helpful and available whenever something came up. She offered different techniques to help labor progress and ease my discomfort. She was great company and easy to laugh with, which lessened the stress of labor. I was comfortable voicing my concerns, and she answered my questions with ease. She also made sure to include my husband in doing as much as he felt comfortable doing—which was everything. As we got closer to delivery, Christina asked me if I would be comfortable involving a medical student during the labor—reassuring me that she would be present and in charge the whole time. I agreed, knowing I could trust her and knowing that she understood my limits and personality. She also made it clear that the student with her would be “delivering” my daughter, but that Christina’s hands would be right on top of the student’s hands at all times. This sort of constant informing helped ease my anxieties. Christina gave me constant approval for what I was doing right during delivery and what I could try to do differently.

My daughter, Kaylee, was born nine pounds, face-up—ouch! She was perfectly healthy and I was able to hold her immediately after she was born. I remember this labor and delivery having a lot of laughs and smiles. I felt I was able to be my quirky self without feeling judged.

Overall, I think the thing I appreciated most about working with the midwives is my relationship with them. They knew my personality, and I knew all of theirs. At the time of delivery, I didn’t just feel like I could trust them on a medical level, but a personal level. The midwives made me feel comfortable during two moments in my life where I felt the most vulnerable, scared, and excited. They spoke to me like an equal and listened to my needs and comfort levels. They were kind, knowledgeable, understand, supportive, assertive, and focused, along with so many other amazing qualities. I would recommend the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics midwifery services to anyone looking for prenatal care, family planning services, counseling, or gynecology services. My gratitude for these women is immeasurable.

Learn more about our midwives and the services they offer.

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Dubuque, Iowa