International Day of the Midwife

It is International Day of the Midwife so I would like to take a moment to send my appreciation to all the midwives out there who are working tirelessly to normalize birth.  I love midwives. I loved giving birth with midwives and I love working with midwives as a doula.  When I first chose to give birth at a freestanding birth center, I don't think I had a whole lot of expectations about what midwifery care would look like, I just knew I wanted a natural, non-hospital birth.  But I soon realized the care I received there (and this was a big, busy birth center) was different than any doctor's office I had been at. My care was so personal and individualized. I was always given options and expected to take the lead in my decisions.  There was never a sense of "well this is just the way we do things."  I got to know each of the midwives and they got to know me, and after my last postpartum visit, I began to miss my time there (Who ever misses going to the doctor?) And at my births, I felt wonderfully supported, encouraged, and lovingly cared for.  It is because of their care that I eventually chose to become a doula, and perhaps one day, I'll journey down the midwifery path myself.

I think this chart about the midwifery model of care sums it up well.




The Midwife Model of Care

Definition of Birth

  • Birth is a social event, a normal part of a woman's life.
  • Birth is the work of the woman and her family.
  • The woman is a person experiencing a life-transforming event.

Birthing Environment

  • Home or other familiar surroundings.
  • Informal system of care.

Philosophy and Practice

  • See birth as a holistic process.
  • Shared decision-making between caregivers and birthing woman.
  • No class distinction between birthing women and caregivers.
  • Equal relationship.
  • Information shared with an attitude of personal caring.
  • Longer, more in-depth prenatal visits.
  • Often strong emotional support.
  • Familiar language and imagery used.
  • Awareness of spiritual significance of birth.
  • Believes in integrity of birth, uses technology if appropriate and proven.

If you have a low-risk pregnancy, consider choosing midwifery care for your pregnancy and birth, whether you choose a hospital or out-of-hospital birth.

Samantha, the midwife who caught my firstborn

Samantha, the midwife who caught my firstborn

The Medical Model of Care

Definition of Birth

  • Childbirth is a potentially pathological process.
  • Birth is the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and other experts.
  • The woman is a patient.

Birthing Environment

  • Hospital, unfamiliar territory to the woman.
  • Bureaucratic, hierarchical system of care.

Philosophy and Practice

  • Trained to focus on the medical aspects of birth.
  • "Professional" care that is authoritarian.
  • Often a class distinction between obstetrician and patients.
  • Dominant-subordinate relationship.
  • Information about health, disease and degree of risk not shared with the patient adequately.
  • Brief, depersonalized care.
  • Little emotional support.
  • Use of medical language.
  • Spiritual aspects of birth are ignored or treated as embarrassing.
  • Values technology, often without proof that it improves birth outcome.

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is a day to count your blessings and give thanks for the good things in your life.  So I would like to begin by stating how grateful I am that I have stumbled upon this new career of mine.  A little over three years ago I didn't know what a doula was. I was on a totally different career path, so I am thankful for all of the people who have helped me get where I am today.

I am thankful for the exceptional care that I received from the midwives at Austin Area Birthing Center during both by pregnancies and births.  Through their compassionate and empowering care that allowed me to have the natural birth that I dreamed set me on the path to discovering my own calling to birth work.

I am thankful to my sister-in-law whose casual suggestion made me consider becoming a doula, before beginning on the path to midwifery. Good luck on your own doula journey!

I am thankful to my trainers, mentors, and colleagues, both in person and in the online community who have taught me so much and inspired me in this journey.

I am thankful for my husband who has supported me in this new endeavor and who has taken up all of the household duties, including caring for my two little ones, when I am called at a moment's notice and am gone for many hours at a time.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I am thankful to all the families who have invited me to share with them the sacred space of the birth of their babies.  Especially those first few who trusted me even though I had little experience yet, I am especially grateful for your confidence in me.  It has been my pleasure pleasure to support over a dozen gracious couples, and each unique birth has taught me so much.

Thank you all! And happy Thanksgiving!