“So yeah....what do you do at a prenatal appointment? Is it just the same as my OB appointments?”
We get this question a lot. I often struggle with how to respond. Because, you see, your prenatal visits are so so SO different than your mainstream OB appointment.
Yes, we check your blood pressure. And we listen to baby. And we draw blood work (sometimes).
But that’s not really what your prenatal appointments are about.
The prenatal care is about CARE. And it’s about YOU.
It’s about building a relationship and trust. It’s about your physical wellness, your emotional health, your spiritual peace. It’s about nurturing. It’s about YOU. And it’s about getting to know - even in those early days - your little baby.
Really, though...what does all this look like? Let me walk you through a typical prenatal visit.
10 am - Your midwives arrive at your home. We greet you with hugs and mosey over to the living room to have a nice chat over tea. Susan lets you know that your blood work came back normal and that she has a copy of your results for you.
10:05 am - We talk about your recent relaxing family vacation. You share a bit about some stressful work drama. Your two year old son plays with our “Future Midwife” kid’s kit, while you share about your anxiety about being a mom of three. Susan shares her memories of greeting each of her children and what each experience was like for her. You reminisce about the births of your daughter and son. Those powerful first few moments. Misty eyes all around the room. And then we laugh because we’re all crying. And then Chloe gets the hiccups. Jeez...emotions.
10:18 am - Out comes the iPad where we take all our notes for the appointment. We ask you about common pregnancy complaints (heartburn, backache) and potential red flags (nausea, vision changes, bleeding). We ask about baby’s movement and what you are noticing in your body. How do you think baby is situated? Do you feel hiccups? How about “lightning crotch”? Have you had any dreams of baby? What were they about?
10:23 am - We have a discussion about the Group Beta Strep test - benefits, risks, what happens if you opt of out the test, how would we manage a positive or a negative result. You say you want to discuss it with your husband and do more research. We provide you with resources and encourage you to call us with any questions. We can do the test at the next appointment if you want. Or not, if you don’t want to.
10:32 am - Do you have to pee? Here’s a cup and urinalysis stick that checks for protein, glucose, and other components that give us clues as to how hydrated and nourished you are at this particular time or if you are possibly developing an infection.
10:35 am - Everything is normal but it looks like you could need a little more water and a few more calories. We talk about what your diet has looked like this week and what you could add in to give you a little bit more nourishment.
10:40 am - Susan checks your blood pressure. 108/62. PERFECT.
10:42 am - Now the fun part….listening to baby. Your 10 year old daughter draws close. You recline on your couch and we measure your belly with a measuring tape. You’re measuring right on the money for 34 weeks! Chloe puts her hands on your belly to feel baby’s position. She shows both you and your daughter how we determine baby’s position and explains the best location to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
10:48 am - Would you like to listen with a fetoscope (similar to a stethoscope but made for listening to little ones in utero) or the doppler (a handheld ultrasound machine)? You choose the doppler so that it’s easier for everyone to hear the heartbeat. Once the heartbeat is located, your daughter asks if we could try with the fetoscope too. So we get out the fetoscope and show her how to find the heartbeat with that as well. (PS - As you get to the end of pregnancy, sometimes you can even use an empty paper towel roll to hear the heartbeat. Seriously!)
(PPS - The picture below is actually of a midwife listening with a Pinard horn - yet another traditional way of hearing baby's heartbeat.)
10:55 am - And that’s it! We’re done. We make an appointment to see you in two weeks. Hugs all around….and we’re off to the next house. Like Santa Clause, or Mary Poppins, or something like that.
I can’t speak for every midwifery practice in the world, but I can say for us our prenatals are usually relaxed, personal, and always in your own home. 45 minutes to an hour is normal….sometimes we’ll stay even longer if there is a specific issue or if mama needs more support.
And through it all, you are in the driver’s seat of your care. Seriously. No one loves this baby more than you. No one else can speak for the experience of what’s going on in your body. No one else can know what is right for you on the deepest level. So we provide you with our perspective...and YOU are the boss.