Midwife. What does it mean to you? For me, talking about the meaning has become a bit of an elephant in the room.
More and more I am amazed and shocked by the treatment some women experience in birth…at the hands of those who call themselves midwives. Too often, I come across stories how midwives have threatened, assaulted or somehow manipulated a birth. As a natural birth advocate, these are not easy words for me to write. As an alternative to the mainstream medical approach to birth, midwives can be relied upon to serve women…right? As a mother who experienced a less than ideal situation with a midwife during her pregnancy, reading other women’s stories serves as a reminder to how I blindly put trust in a person simply because of a title.
Do not make assumptions about your care provider whoever they may be! You might find naiveté comes with a larger price tag than what you’re willing to pay.
The word midwife literally means “with woman.” But one must understand that our modern world is witness to many different approaches to midwifery. Many. They range from a very hands off approach where birth and the woman is trusted, all the way over to a full on medical approach.
Women must go into an agreement with their care providers with their eyes wide open. Each and every birth attendant must be thoroughly interviewed by the woman, whether they be doctor, obstetrician or midwife. Trust your instincts. Really listen to those instincts. I’m going to say that again–really listen. If there’s something even a little off, take action. That part is as important as the first because if something is off, it’s your responsibility (and yours alone) to take action. Do something differently–interview someone else if you need to. Find a way to have the birth you seek, one that you have a right to.
There is already underway a shift in how birth is perceived in our society. There is great value in holding the vision and focusing on the positive. That said, anger is okay, too! In fact, I’d say anger is an appropriate response to injustice and can be a positive tool when wielded responsibly! I believe women must tell their stories, triumphs and warts and all! The truth will set us free.
There are many women who are truly “with woman” in birth. They fully support and respect women and their decisions. To me, these women are heroes. It’s up to the woman giving birth to actively seek out the best birth attendant for her and her unique needs.
And for those of us who aren’t pregnant, or perhaps ever expecting to be (this includes men), it’s up to us to speak the truth about birth. It’s up to us to support and protect the woman in pregnancy and in birth. Let us never forget that birth matters to us all.
To the others, I say:
Midwife, heal thyself.