I sought out a midwife for my second pregnancy because my first labor and delivery had been very, very tough, and I wanted to know that I'd have a consistent and steady presence for my prenatal care and delivery the second time around. Gwen offers solid prenatal care; she's very by the books (she encourages all the routine testing and ultrasounds) but she doesn't freak out or go on high alert the minute something seems off. I really appreciated this, as I have a real tendency to worry, and as an older mama (I delivered my son a few days after my 43rd birthday) I knew that if I'd gone the traditional route I might have been consistently treated as high risk. I wanted someone who would treat me like a person, not a "geriatric." (Gwen never used that word once, bless her.) The best part though is that you can call Gwen on her cell phone or email her and not go through the irritating gauntlet that every call to Sutter Health entails (verify your DOB, leave a message, wait two days, yadda yadda): you actually get to speak to your care provider! How novel. And she knows what she's talking about. Every nurse I encountered at Alta Bates would say to me, "Oh, you're working with Gwen? She's the best/terrific/so great." It's true; she's a lovely person, incredibly warm, kind, smart, and competent, and she knows exactly how the system works. It was a great comfort, when I had pre-term contractions at 36 weeks, that the nurses in antepartum testing at Alta Bates had Gwen's number on file and simply called her cell to check in (and Gwen called me later to see how I was doing). I'm pretty confident that wouldn't have happened with my OB/GYN.
Where Gwen really shines, though, is at the delivery. On the day I delivered she met me at the door to Alta Bates with a wheelchair and we skipped triage altogether (that alone may have been worth her fee). I'll spare you the gory details of my son's delivery, but suffice it to say during a long push that made me very demoralized she was steady and calm and professional. I never once doubted her ability to bring my kiddo safely into the world–and she did! And after he was born, she went and got me a snack from the cart in the hall while we chatted comfortably and debriefed and had a few much-needed laughs. Again, I doubt my OB/GYN would have done that. She visits twice in the hospital, too, and gives the kind of practical advice and care you're really craving when you've just pushed out an 8 pounder.