To OB or not to OB?

(Trailer for BBC show Call The Midwife, which I totally want to see, even though we aren’t using one. Any of my British readers seen this yet?)

I’m not sure how it goes in other places around the world, but here in Ontario, the moment you get pregnant you have to decide whether you want an OB or a midwife to deliver your baby. Thanks to our public healthcare system, both of these options are 100% free, but you can’t have both. I must say, I’ve generally heard that having a midwife makes the entire experience much more enjoyable. You get a lot more attention, they’ll come to your house and take time to explain things to you, and there’s much more offered in the way of post-partum care, like help with breastfeeding. Having said this, all the doctors I know who’ve had babies have opted for an OB. Maybe this is because they don’t need all that extra hand-holding, or perhaps it’s because they know something I don’t about the treatment you receive in hospital when you’re registered with an OB rather than a midwife. I’m not totally sure, but ultimately, hubs and I decided to go with an OB.

Why? Well, a few reasons:

1. We both come from families of doctors, who all advocate this choice; also, we can always turn to our parents/siblings if we need medical advice at 11 p.m. on a Sunday, so the “availability” factor isn’t really an issue.

2. I don’t think doing infertility treatments necessarily means your pregnancy is “high risk” but I have high blood pressure and I’m worried it will come into play later on. I want an OB to take responsibility for identifying and treating pre-eclampsia, not a midwife.

3. Thanks to a few good connections, we managed to get paired up with the head of obstetrics at the best hospital in Toronto, a 10-minute drive away. He gets rave reviews. We are not about to turn this opportunity down.

Having said all this, I might very well switch to a midwife if/when we end up getting pregnant for a second time. So far, our experience in the “traditional” system has been a bit confusing — there is no one to really guide us through everything, nobody telling us what information we need to bring in order to get ultrasounds done, nobody informing us which part of which building we should be going to afterwards to make an appointment with the OB, no explanation of how these pee sticks work and what bloodwork should or shouldn’t be done. It’s all on us to keep asking questions and demanding to be seen by someone, which is a bit frustrating. But at least we’re type A and can deal with it.

I also think it’s interesting how worked up people will get talking about care providers. The debate somehow gets watered down into polarized sides — you’re either in the “natural” camp or the “medicalized” one, which drives me crazy. Newsflash: Just because you choose to go with an OB, doesn’t mean you sign on to induced labour and epidurals and all these other drugs. You can still voice your opinion on what you do and do not want, and you can be in and out of that hospital in under 24 hours if you play it right. I don’t buy into theories that doctors are out to make money on their patients (certainly not in this country) or would put their own interests above that of a mother and baby in labour.

Anyway, that’s our plan… and our reasoning. I think if we really want to indulge, we may look into hiring a post-partum doula to help with the craziness of having a newborn, but that’s still under consideration.┬áSo tell me: Who did you choose — or who would you choose — for your care provider, and why? And do you pay any attention to friends or family members who don’t agree with your decision?