I know it has been ages since I have written yet again. But life is like that, sometimes you just to busy or tired to blog it out. I had been wanting for sometime to talk about what midwifery really is to me. When I began my journey to become a midwife I had a clear idea of the kind of care provider I wanted to be and I feel that I have lived up to my own expectations. This makes me proud of me.
In my short carer as a midwife I have met many different types of colleagues. Some are classic hospital midwives, shift workers who switch on when at work and off when not. They are competent and caring midwives whom in many ways I envy. Their job very cut and dry, no extra drama. I have also met midwives who really don’t want to be midwives any longer and can be very closed off from their clients and their job. These midwives frighten me as I feel they have lost what connects them to their natural instinct in birth. I have seen these midwives do more harm then good at a birth, solely with their presence. Their closed energy can inhibit a mother progress. These are my feelings and I have no actual proof of this.
Another type of midwife is the one who became a midwife to take back a bad birth experience of her own. These, I feel, are also midwives who can do more harm then good. Their energy is very pointed toward themselves and their experience and this can encroach into a birthing mothers space. I feel it is very easy to become one of these midwives with out even realizing it. In saying this, personal experience can be a priceless tool in midwifery, it all about how we use it. If we use this experience as a way to empathize and even give courage to a mother who believes it can’t be done, then I believe it is a tool. But if it drives us to try and over take another woman’s birth in order to ‘save her’ from your previous experience, it becomes a danger.
Other midwives are ones who answer a calling of sorts. Regardless of their politics the nature of their job facilitates the activist in them and they use their role to progress the right of women to birth in safety and with respect. Of course each activist is an individual and there are many causes in midwifery to challenge, but all in all, I feel these midwives do their job for something deeper. I feel that many of my professors in university were this kind of midwife. Many of them no longer practiced midwifery but took on the active role of building midwifery for the future. I had and still have great respect for these ‘wise women’. The only down side of this type of midwife is that she can get lost in ideals when not on the shop floor dealing with the day today, but students need ideals and it is good to give them something more humane to strive for. These women not only help to educate but to nurture midwives of the future as well.
Of course there are the practice educators who teach and work side by side with their students, these are one of my favorite type of midwife. They have the passion for active midwifery and the patience to teach as they provide care. I have such deep respect and love for my practice mentors. I was very lucky to have been placed with some of the best midwives around and I can only hope to follow well in their footsteps.
These midwives lead me to another type of midwife, the spiritual midwife. This name is of course used with Ina May Gaskin in mind, but it is a name which I feel fits a very particular type of practitioner. In my mind she is the midwife who uses’s all her knowledge, wisdom and skill but also her heart, in her practice. I first understood the idea of midwife from this context. Reading Spiritual Midwifery when pregnant with my first child gave me high expectations of what to expect from my midwives. I was lucky to find and amazing midwife in Glasgow who fit the bill in many ways. This only underpinned my understanding that midwifery involved a kind of embracing of your clients lives for a period of time and in this time you acted as; care giver, friend and at times mother. This idea was the basis with which I began my training and how I run my practice.
For me each women, each couple is precious and this time we have with them is a gift. Of course I am in private practice so I have the opportunity to make this connection with my clients, but even as a student in a busy hospital I felt the same. Each client I would support in labour, birth or post nataly, I would en devour to make even the smallest connection with and I felt the benefit. At times this was not possible as some women were not interested in connecting with me or their labour, but I respected this and found a satisfaction in simply being there at the moment of birth when even for only a second they were touched by the warm loving light of pure life. Sometimes I think I treasured those moments more than I did with women I had a good connection with, because the later women were a challenge but even they had to let down their guard and stand in awe of life and its wonder.
I think when you practice midwifery with your head and heart, your work is more fulfilling and rewarding, but I only say this because this is how it feels to me. It is not the same for all midwives as we are individuals and do our jobs in the way that is most natural for us. For me, at times my work can feel draining, but a funny thing happens as soon as I engage with a client. If before the birth or visit, I was tired or felt unwell, somehow during my time with them those feelings vanish. I am so involved in the care I am giving and many times I am invigorated by the time I have spent with them. I think that when or if this changes or if my time with my clients becomes more of a drain then a joy, then I hope I have the sense to recognize that it is time to find another profession or at least another way to give that care. Until then I will continue to feel absolute joy and gratitude for gift of my profession.
I really love this post. I think your description of different kinds of midwives is spot on- I have met all of them! You have a real gift for writing accurately about other midwives whose practice is different from your own without being judgemental. I have really come to believe that midwives should have the opportunity to reflect on their own birth (and feeding) experiences before they work with women, for all the reasons you give. Keep going with your reflections, they always help me to connect with the reasons why I'm still (in spite of everything) a midwife.
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