13 answers

What Do You Think of Northwestern's Midwife Practice?

Hi,
I'm pregnant again and am trying to wade through the myriad choices of prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care here in Chicago. I delivered my first baby in Germany, where they use mostly midwives to deliver and doctors only come in to assist if necessary, though they're always present in the hospital. I really liked that method -- it was very personal, relaxed, and I was given plenty of time to go through the delivery naturally as I wanted. I'm looking for something similar here, and it seems like that's what Northwestern's midwife practice offers: a more relaxed and personalized delivery, but with the assurance of great physicians and top-notch neonatologists nearby. Anybody have any experience with them?

Thanks!
M.

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So What Happened?™

I'm sorry that some of you had semi-disastrous experiences at Prentice -- mine was absolutely WONDERFUL. I had a completely drug-free birth - went in at 5pm and had the baby by 7:30 pm, not even an IV or an aspirin anywhere to be seen. Carol Hirschfield, who was the midwife on call that night, was wonderful, she helped me to trust my body and just basically stayed out of the way while I labored in those last few hours. Not only was the delivery seamless, but the nurses afterwards really took good care of me and the rooms were comfortable and I loved it there. I am thinking of flying back to Chicago to have my third there again with them--where I live in New Jersey, they have one of the highest cesarian and episiotomy rates in the country, and you can't find a pediatrician who doesn't prescribe antibiotics for a sneeze or an OB who doesn't use an ultrasound only to find the baby's heartrate. It was a wonderful experience for me at Prentice.

More Answers

Hi,
I have three friends who had their babies at Northwestern using the midwives there and they really liked them. My one friend did end up getting a c-section though and felt rushed by the MD's to make that decision.

I started out at Northwestern Hospital and switched
(at 6 months pregnant) to West Suburban Midwives in Oak Park. They are a practice of 3 women (all great). They are more into natural methods and homeopathy (much more in line with my lifestyle), and spent a lot more time with me, (sometimes 45 mins - 1 hour) I felt rushed through 10 or 15 minute appointments at Northwestern.

I had my son at West Suburban Hospital's birthing center (Oak Park). I did a water birth and it was fantastic. They let me take my time, they knew i wanted to go natural and they never even mentioned epidural. The nice thing was it is not a teaching hospital so they were no students peeking in either. My midwife Hillary Kaiser delivered my son with a labor and delivery nurse, my doula and my husband, all of us together. Dare I say, it was great! I never even saw a doctor, but if I needed one they were there. I loved the nurses there too. Best of luck to you!

I did not use the midwife practice at Northwestern wiht my daughter, but did deliver naturally there with my OB practice and did not encounter problems doing so, contrary to what I'd heard (and what a lot of peopel here have posted as well). NW does have a 90% epidural rate, however my doctor told me that if I really wanted to avoid that and avoid even the temptation, to stay at home until my contractions were 2-3 min apart as opposed to 5 min apart, as they tell everyone else. I arrived at the hospital 6 cm dilated and when they brought in the anesthesiologist I simply told them I didn't wnat anything and that they should leave. I was not bothered about it again and was there a total of 3 hrs 15 min before my daughter was born.

My point being, while they are known as a baby factory, I belive it is possible to have the birth experience that you want at Northwestern as long as you are firm about it. I'm sure seeing a midwife practice would actually help in that, from what I've heard, it's a much more personalized experience and midwives get to know you and your preferences much more than docs do.

Good luck to you!

I wish I had read this before choosing a practice. Given, I gave birth to a wonderful, healthy, baby - but the experience was awful. It did feel like a "baby factory" even with the choice of a midwife. In a nutshell: the triage waiting room had me wait on the FLOOR at 8 centimeters covered in meconium with a cup for vomit. They refused to give me a bed until I was processed.

That night, the midwife, Julie Omar, was juggling me and who knows how many other women. She would visit once every 1-2 hours for 10 minutes, look at the monitor, give some excuse and walk out. Finally, seven hours later, a doctor comes out of nowhere to tell me that I need a cesarean. Although this was a non-emergency cesarian (failure to progress) it all felt rushed from that point. My baby was born at 7:18 a.m. and the nightshift left at 8:00 a.m. Julie Omar never came in the recovery room and I never saw her again. It was a system.

The prenatal care was different and more attentive. However, I also had different midwives. The actual labor is a huge part of the experience and how I was treated was a great disappointment.

Also, as I'm one for statistics. As of 2009, the rate of epidurals at Northwestern (including the midwife practice) is 98% and the rate of cesarians is 29%. These statistics are taken from a prenatal class/lecture at Northwestern.

I delivered with Debi Lesnick at St Francis Hospital ###-###-####). She also delivers at Evanston Hospital. She was quite patient throughout my 30 hour labor. I'm nearly certain that I would have been convinced to have a C-section if I had not had a midwife.

Ok here goes...
I had my first baby with NW midwives. I thought they were all very nice people who took the time to talk to me. I mostly saw Carol Hirshfield and Ariel Darrenger. My baby ended up breech and I ended up with a scheduled c-section - the midwife who was on that day - Amy - was with me during the surgery and was very good. Since I ended up with the c-section, I can honestly say that there is probably no better place to have had one.

BUT Northwestern Hospital is a very "medicalized" hospital to deliver in. The doctors are used to things happening a certain way - they have a 90% epidural rate and schedule inductions on the hour. They are considered a "baby factory". While I got the sense that you could avoid this with the midwives, I think they probably have a lower drug-free birth rate than many other groups of midwives. This probably has less to do with the midwives themselves than the doctors' comfort level in "letting things happen" naturally.

If you want a natural birth experience with great backup support, I might consider going where the odds of that happening are a bit better. The midwives at UIC have the lowest c-section rate in the city and they have a new birthing center (built in 2004). I've also heard great things about the Alternative Birthing Centers at West Suburban in Oak Park, at Illinois Masonic, and about the midwives at Swedish Covenant. No matter what you choose, I think you'll definitely have a great experience with midwives.

From what I've heard, it's hard to have a natural childbirth at Northwestern so if that is your goal I'd keep looking. My baby is due any day now and I've been happy with the midwife practice out of Illinois Masonic Hospital. I plan a natural delivery in the alternate birthing center they have there. So same as you, the midwives will be there to support me and honor my choice of a natural delivery while at the same time doctors, surgeons and the NICU are just down the hall in case they are needed. Their phone number is ###-###-####.

Good luck and congrats. Feel free to follow up in a couple weeks and I'll be able to tell you how things went. I'm already a couple days past my due date, another thing I like about the midwives, they don't seem over anxious to induce. ____@____.com

I used the Midwives at NMPG in the 680 Building. I thought that they were all fantastic, warm and caring. I would use them again in a heart beat. I still go to them for my gyn. visits as well. You can find out more info at nmpg.com

Good Luck!

J. R

I love the midwives. I was induced rather suddenly and they new I was dead set on a vaginal delivery(unless a c was absolutely necessary of course). They were really supportive of my decisions, but also helped me not compromise(for example, prior to delivery I said NO narcotics, but an epidural was okay)....I was almost ready to take narcotics out of sheer desperation, but my midwife(ariel) helped keep me on track and helped me find positions that eased the pain. I did ended up with an epidural, but a very easy vaginal delivery(no tearing, which I think was due in part to the technique the midwife(this time, Jennifer) used and all was well despite the fact my daughter was 4 weeks early! Good luck, feel free to ask more question!

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