We all get the question: "What do you do?" For me the answer is easy, I'm a midwife. But the reactions I get are not always so straightforward. Maybe this will clarify a bit...
For some reason, I've known what a midwife is years before I decided I needed to be one. My mom didn't use one, no one close to me in my family did. I am not sure where I first heard about midwifery but when I did, it immediately drew me in. I knew I needed to be a part of everything pregnancy, birth and babies. Pregnancy fascinated me and somewhere in me I felt a draw to the natural beauty of birth.
A midwife is a woman that has been trained to help and guide women through pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. We are devoted to helping healthy, low-risk women have their idea of an optimal birth. I am trained to screen women, through their prenatal care, for anything that would make it unsafe to birth anywhere but the hospital. Midwives know what to do in all situations that arise during birth--whether we treat it ourselves or transfer to the hospital to get medical help their depends on the situation and our training.
Midwives have been used for thousands of years. Before birth became a medical event occurring in hospitals, everyone had home births with midwives! Babies have always been born and women--grandmothers, aunts, sisters, mothers-- have always been helping each other through the life-changing process of pregnancy and delivery. Midwives strive to preserve the traditional relationship of providing personal, warm, almost family-like care when helping pregnant women experience their births.
To me, every woman needs the support of another to connect with, relate and open up to about everything their body goes through in the 40 weeks leading up to the birth of their baby. I am so pleased to be that woman for those who choose the path of unmedicated, out of hospital birth. I love being the one woman those around me ask questions to throughout their pregnancy. Mostly, I am able to reassure them that what they are going through is completely normal, and if it is outside of normal I am able to help resolve their problem or give them the resources to do so. I have seen the effects of women-centered care. I have seen that when a pregnancy is treated as a normal, healthy part of a woman's life and that woman is thoroughly and personally cared for she is much less likely to suffer through birth injuries, trauma or surgical birth.
Luckily, I think the medical system is starting to realize just how safe, economical and practical out of hospital birth really is. In England, for example, women are encouraged to have their babies at home if they don't have any medical risk factors (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc). I can only dream about the day when OBs in California are telling their clients that "actually you don't need to birth in the hospital. Go have your baby with a midwife at home." That will be the day. Until then, I hope that blogs like this will help women to learn a little bit about what midwife is and why we do what we do.
I will continue to blog as much as my life allows!