This series started many moons ago and I have refined and expanded it over the years. In this installment, I am sharing The Fifth Pearl. This Pearl pertains to your personal practice and to our Midwifery community as a whole; we must work together to affect the change that we know must happen as we serve our families.
As an Individual Practitioner…
As a new midwife, it can and will take time to get your “midwife legs”, to develop your own personal way of doing things. You can and will choose bits and pieces from the teachers and preceptors that you work with throughout your training. You will create your own bits and pieces through experience as you practice. As my legs were (and will always continue to mature) growing and developing, I have realized something. I am not one particular type of midwife all the time. In fact, I know, without a doubt that I am several different midwives all wrapped up into one package. Of course, my underlying foundation is consistent and strong. However, the outward expression of my skill and knowledge can and does vary. Sometimes, I am soft and warm, like a hot mineral spring. Other times, I am thunderous and steady like a waterfall. Each woman will require me to help create their own style and form. Some will prefer a gentle trickling stream, others may prefer the cool stillness of a high mountain lake. And, oftentimes each birth and birthing person will require multiple variations depending on the stage of labor. Each birth is a new world, one that has never been seen or felt before, and each will create a new shape to fill. This brings me to The Fifth Pearl; Be Water. Water is tender yet strong, malleable yet persistent and it forms to fit the character of each individual container. As a midwife, it is important to sense the atmosphere around you and adapt to the changing needs it presents. My role is to support and assist each birth with creating its own container and then to help fill it as needed.
As Midwives Collectively…
Oceans, streams, lakes and rivers; they are in a dynamic state of growth and change, yet they retain their essential form. As midwives, we must remain firm in the bedrock understanding of our practice, while also continually striving to expand and update our knowledge base. This is a profession based on growth and change. As with water, stagnation can lead to poor quality. Midwives must avoid becoming set in their ways and remain open to the change around them.
As a practitioner surrounded by the medical system, it can be difficult to support and empower women through the Midwifery Model of Care. It is easy to feel as though the work is insurmountable, the challenge too great. When this happens, think of water. Picture the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. Given time, no structure can withstand the strength of water. A single drop of rain may not have much power, but when they gather and collect in the waterways, their power in undeniable. All families need and deserve midwifery care. We must come together, like the water, and with gentle strength strive to bring about the needed change in our maternity care system. Let’s work together to water the parts that are beneficial and wash away the parts that are flawed.
Image credit Aubre Tompkins, CNM
Are you intrigued by the concept of Water as you practice Midwifery? If so, you will also enjoy another piece of mine, Birth is Elemental