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 pregnant person 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 the process. Historically and traditionally, as midwives we have seriously down played our role and knowledge base, in favor of giving all of the credit to our clients and their families. 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 the pregnant person and the baby deserve 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 them like some kind of overlord? Absolutely not! Do I sometimes have to tell families things that they do not want to hear and make recommendations that they will not like? Yes. Think of a woman, 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 client who has developed a complication during the course of the 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 client 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 our families to do, and be proud of the skills and knowledge that we bring to this calling!
What are your thoughts on this topic?
Image credit Monet Nicole