Yes, nepotism is alive and well here on Offbeat Mama! I’m not sure how many of you know this, but my mom Therese is a retired midwife, midwifery advocate, and educator.
Offbeat Mama supports each family choosing a birth plan that’s right for them, but it seems like we would be remiss if we didn’t take advantage of the fact that my mom’s got a massive wealth of knowledge about midwifery … and so I’ve asked her to write a column for us called Ask the Midwife.
We’ll start with a basic Q&A — and then take your questions! -Ariel
What does a midwife do? Why don’t we hear much about them in the U.S?
Midwives attend the majority of normal births in nearly every country in the world except the United States and Canada.
The reason for this is a result of a campaign against midwives in the early 1900’s conducted by the newly forming Medical Profession who hoped to boost their medical practices by attracting women. Another factor was the industrial revolution which resulted in young couples moving away from their extended families, so they no longer knew the local midwives.
The media campaign portrayed midwives as dirty and ignorant and doctors as educated and modern. The net result was that by the 1950’s doctors attended nearly all the births except in isolated rural pockets. However, in the 1970’s, as a result of the horrendous experience many women had giving birth with doctors in hospitals at that time, midwives began to re-emerge.
At this time in 2009 midwives are available in many areas and attend births in hospitals, birth centers and at home, in rural areas and in cities. However, the percentage of births delivered by midwives is still small (10% at best) because many women are frightened about birth and believe that a doctor and hospital will be safer.
Truth is, for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies, midwives are often the best choice. Medicalization of birth has not resulted in better outcomes, because birth is a normal process and works best when not interfered with unless there is indication of a problem.
Midwives know how to monitor pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. They sit with a woman, support and encourage the natural process. They are also trained to recognize complications and when to get medical help when needed.
More importantly, midwives generally take more time to get to know their clients and treat each woman holistically, acknowledging that family, socio-economic, spiritual, emotional and psychological factors are essential to address.
Giving birth is can be a rite of passage for women, catalyzing profound growth at the spiritual, emotional and psychological levels. Midwives understand and acknowledge this. This ‘Ask the Midwife’ column is for questions along those lines — not for medical questions.
I look forward to your questions, whether you are trying to make sense out of what happened at your birth last year or you are trying to prepare yourself for an impending birth. I am here to help you delve into the ways pregnancy, birth, and tending a newborn has changed you or will change you, and how you can make the most of this transformational time in your life.
I hope to be a guide so these experiences can make you stronger and wiser rather than just making you crazy. Goddess knows, the world needs many more ‘wise women’ at this point in history and we all have it in us!
Blessings to all of you Offbeat Mamas! May you continue to march to the beat of your own inner-drummer 🙂
If you’ve got a question to Ask the Midwife, you can click here to email Therese. She’ll select a question every couple weeks to answer on the site. Remember, if you’ve got medical questions, you need to contact your care provider!