Midwifery is a misunderstood thing by so many people. Some see midwives as a certain kind of “special woman doctor” that deals with pregnancy and birth — I would probably say those sound more like obstetricians to me. Some believe that midwives are nurses (and some are). Some believe they are a bunch of dirt-worshipping-hippies and witches (and some are). Some people think midwives are uneducated, reckless “lay people” who attend births, placing the lives of clients and babies at risk. Some people simply fear midwives because they provide services and a type of care their clients seek out and that those in the medical-healthcare industrial complex either can not or will not provide.
Because of this and more, a lot of midwives want to become more like their oppressors in the medical-healthcare industrial complex. Many of them go into the field of nursing (which is valuable in it’s own right) in order to then become midwives that primarily provide care in hospital and birth centre settings — because despite the fact that many doctors still treat nurses like second-class healthcare providers, they are respected much more than any traditional, community, or other non-nurse midwife will ever be. Many of them lobby for legislation that makes only certain kinds of midwives legal and/or that limits the type of care and providers that birthing families can hire.
Because of this and more, a lot of midwives have been convinced that there should only be one way to gain an education in midwifery, that things should be standardised, homogenised. Decrying the traditional apprenticeship model of a profession that has been around since at least “biblical times”. Apparently, it just magically does not work any more. Trying to turn midwifery into something one studies for out of books at universities for a few years and then completes a few months of clinicals before hanging out their shingle.
I believe that part of the issue is that so many of us have lost sight of who the midwife is, was, and should be. We have distilled the midwife down to someone who oversees pregnancy, birth, and a tiny aspect of postpartum care. We have taken a part out of the whole. You could liken it to creating the addictive cocaine from the medicinal coca plant — the synthesised or distilled one is frequently harmful and the other whole one is important, non-addictive medicine in most of South America. Midwifery is (w)holistic and encompasses much more than just maternity/perinatal care. When we remove the midwife from the level of the community, something is lost in translation and becomes more medicalized, detached, and less community-oriented. Midwives are not one-trick-ponies.
The midwife is a community healer who brings to the table more skill sets that just the ability to oversee pregnancy and birth. Midwives are social workers, massage therapists, herbalists, naturopaths, and yogis; they are knowledgeable in craniosacral therapy, reflexology, aromatherapy, nutrition, bereavement counselling, pediatrics, and so much more; in some communities they are witches or spiritual leaders and in some places they are the only healthcare provider of any kind for miles and miles; and they spend vast amounts of time knitting together networks of parents and other care providers within the communities that they live and serve in. Midwives are the ones their clients call first whenever there is a concern about health within the family or with parenting. Pillars of the community.
I am grateful for the community of midwives that I belong to, both near and far in distance.
I am grateful for the constant learning and growing that we engage in with one another.
I am grateful for my fellow midwives, here in a less-than-optimal state to practice in, who continue to provide the best care they possibly can for those who want it the most.
I am grateful for my fellow (homebirth) midwives who understand the potential risks of persecution and prosecution they face and yet, they continue to do what no one else seems willing to do (without permission from authority).
I am grateful that my community has continued to understand the importance of their midwives, to defend them and stand together with them.
I am grateful that the Universe told me that midwifery was my calling and that my community agreed.