Thursday, February 23, 2012

Midwife Pride

Here I sit at my kitchen table, sipping a mocha and watching the snow fall outside. Lately, I have been heavy thinking on the topic of pride. It is a subject that I often ponder from time to time. Clearly, too much pride can be a bad thing. However, pride can also be an important trait. I was recently involved in a Facebook discussion about the definition of a midwife. The author had proposed that a midwife is a good friend who assists a woman in finding her own path through birth (I am seriously paraphrasing). The focus of the quote was the "friend" part. This lead to some interesting points and people arguing for and against the simple "friend theory". One poster pointed out that midwives are much more than friends and hold a lot of responsibility. Another poster argued that all the responsibility lies with the Mama and that the concept of the midwife holding responsibility over her was insulting. These discussions have re-kindled a strong passion that I have regarding midwifery and I will try to explain it here. I apologize for the large soap box that I am about to climb onto.....

First, I am extremely proud to be a Midwife. I have dedicated years of my life to the study of midwifery and continually strive to continue my learning. To me, it is both a profession and a calling, in the true sense of both words. A profession because it involves, study, skill acquisition, continued education and recognized standards. A calling because it requires dedication, an appreciation of the beauty of the process and a genuine love of MotherBaby. Historically and traditionally, as midwives we have seriously down played our role and knowledge base, in favor of giving all of the credit to MotherBaby. In my opinion, this has been a mistake, and has allowed for the devaluing and oppression of our work. Now, I must make something absolutely clear, I strongly believe that MotherBaby deserves vast amounts of glory for their work. One of my crucial roles as a midwife is to support them through the process and allow the Mother to be born along with the baby, through empowerment and strength. Keeping this in mind, we as midwives also deserve a lot of credit for facilitating this process. We are highly trained and have a vast knowledge base, acquired through both "book" learning and experience.

While I may be a type of friend to my clients, I am also much, much more. I do hold some responsibility for their well being, I have been hired to guard their health and safety, to watch over and monitor their progress and intervene when needed. Is this responsibility shared? Absolutely! Do I hold power over MotherBaby like some kind of overlord? Absolutely not! Do I sometimes have to tell women things that they do not want to hear and make recommendations that they will not like? Yes. Think of a Mama, in the thick of a protracted labor with a babe in a "bad" position. Do I have to ask her to do things; like sumo-walk the stairs, spend time on her hands and knees and other various things that she may not like in the moment? Yes. Or a Mama who has developed a complication during the course of her pregnancy that makes it safer for her baby to be born at a hospital....will I tell the truth and recommend this transfer? Yes. Or a Mama who is bleeding heavily after the birth...will I act quickly and decisively to stop that bleeding? Yes. These decisions and interventions involve a level of responsibility. A responsibility that I as a trained midwife, who has been chosen by a family, take very seriously.

I strongly believe that we as women and midwives must claim this power and take credit for our skill. We must work and fight for the recognition we have earned. We must educate the public on our skills and be proud of our profession and not be afraid to also take some of the credit. Just as we share responsibility with our clients, we can also share credit. Let's step out of the shadows and into the light of our awesome work! Let's claim our power, just as we encourage MotherBaby to do, and be proud of the skills and knowledge that we bring to this calling!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Serenade

Well, if have been reading this blog, you know that I feel blessed by my "job". My co-workers are fantastic and our clients and their families are wonderful. I recently had an experience that reminded me how awesome our collaborating providers are. We work very closely with a particular pediatric group, they see clients out of one of our auxiliary spaces and many of families choose them as providers.

I was at the hospital visiting with a family that had had to transfer during their labor. I walked into the room to find a happy, healthy Mom with a beautiful dark haired baby girl nursing away. The proud Daddy at their side. We were chatting, discussing the transfer and marveling at how great the baby was breastfeeding. After a short time, another visitor of the pediatricians from the above mentioned group. In addition to being a great physician, he is also an avid guitar player. We had recently had a huge snow storm and it was freezing outside, so he could not leave his guitar in the car and brought it in with him. Of course, one thing lead to another and before he did the baby exam, we were gifted with a song! How many people can say that their pediatrician serenaded the baby before examining them? Truly, we are blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people.