Evelyn Muhlhan of Alternative Birth Choices with Molly's daughter Poppy
Alternative Birthing Choices
In DBFA's series, Baltimore Birthing Options, downtown parents share their experiences with local birthing options ranging from giving birth in the hospital with an OB to at home with a midwife. You can count on these local moms to give you the real deal on everything from medical interventions to waiting room decor.
Today, we're speaking with Molly Saint-James, DBFA Editor, about her experience with Alternative Birthing Choices.
What made you choose Alternative Birth Choices? I wanted to deliver with a midwife and attempt a natural birth and Evelyn Muhlhan's practice came highly recommended on the SEBaltCityKids LISTSERV.
What three words describe the practice as a whole? Kind, gentle, caring.
How did they handle prenatal care? Just as an OB would. I didn't get my ultrasounds through them b/c I didn't switch practices till 20 weeks (previously I'd been at the Hopkins Maternal-Fetal Group) but I believe that while they provide the same tests/ultrasounds, you have the option of doing as much or as little testing as you want (also true of an OB practice, of course).
How would you describe the care given by your doctor/midwife/etc? Very thorough. You are a partner in the decision making process, so nothing is assumed and everything is thoroughly explained. It's clear that the ultimate decisions rest with you. It's very important to Evelyn that you have the birth experience that you want and while appointments often don't run on time, it's because she really takes a lot of time with each patient discussing the birth you hope for.
What was your delivery experience like? An adventure! We did a home birth after doing a hospital birth the first time around and needless to say, it was very different. Up until the last minute, we'd planned to go to Mercy and attempt a water birth (assuming tubs were available) but we'd prepared for both scenarios and at the last minute, I told my husband I just wanted to stay home, and he agreed. Thankfully, Evelyn and her assistant were flexible and we'd talked about the various scenarios ahead of time.
How was the post-partum care? Also very thorough. The assistant (who is also a midwife) comes to your house the next day or day after to check on you and the baby. You and the baby then return to their offices in Catonsville at two weeks and again at six weeks.
If you could change anything about your care or the practice, what would you change? They are a bit disorganized but when I was there they were dealing with a lot of "blizzard babies" so had an incredibly busy season. I would use them again, though!
Would you recommend Alternative Birth Choices to a friend? Yes! And I would like to make clear that for a so-called normal healthy pregnancy, the services a midwife offers are really no different than what an OB offers. In fact, they offer more, as they are with you for almost your entire birth and are almost guaranteed to personally deliver your baby. Finally, even with a home birth, the midwife comes fully stocked for any emergency. I had a postpartum hemorrhage with both births and even though one was at home, it was really no different than they way they treated it at the hospital. Evelyn had IVs, Pitocin (to control the bleeding), etc. I was also Group B Strep positive and it was possible to get antibiotics to treat it at home while in labor. She also carries Vitamin K and eye ointment for the baby after its born, just as you would get at any hospital (though she obviously does not perform c-sections or forceps deliveries or circumcise babies). (I mention this because when Poppy had to be hospitalized at 5 weeks at Hopkins for something unrelated, these questions came up quite a bit!)
If expectant moms have questions about Alternative Birth Choices, who should they contact?
Anyone interested in learning more can call them at 410-455-9659.
Molly Saint-James lives in Upper Fells Point with husband Ian and daughters Ellie, 3, and Poppy, 8 months. She is the editor for the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance.
If you would like to contribute to the Baltimore Birthing Options series, we would love to have you! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.