Monday, December 19, 2011

Why I'd Make a Rotten Midwife

I have been asked several times recently if I have aspirations to be a midwife.  One midwife commented on all the young women that have had a baby or two and want to be a doula or midwife.  My children are older now and I've been an educator for almost 9 years.  They all are surprised that I am happy and content to remain "just" a childbirth educator. 

Let me tell you why I'd be a rotten midwife:

The number one quality of a good midwife, in my opinion, is patience.  Labor takes time and a laboring mom deserves just that.  For this reason, I'd make a great OB!  OK, just kidding.  I would seriously be like, "Come on already!  This is taking forever.  I've got other things to do!"   I'd be a clock-watcher, for sure and all over the "failure to progress" diagnosis.  I'd also be all about the pitocin.  As you can tell, I am not a patient person.  For the same reasons, this is why I do not work as a doula. 

I have always compared being a midwife to selling real estate.  For years, I thought I'd like to be a real estate agent.  How fun to drive around looking at houses, talking to people.  I could do that.  But then I realized that that part of the job is only a fraction of the big picture.  The paperwork and contracts, well, I'm not so interested in that.  In fact, yuck.

Being a midwife looks like so much fun -- catching babies and being a part of this exciting day.  It's easy to forget that it took 9 months of charting and appointments to get to this day.  A few hours and it's over.  All that paperwork.  Again, yuck.

I'm probably slightly queasy too.  Have you ever watched a woman be stitched up after a birth?  Whoa.  I'm not very good with blood either, although I think I am able to remain pretty calm through an intense situation.  

I love education, likely, because for me, education was a turning point.  When I learned what was happening to my body in labor and it took the fear out of childbirth.  I like those "light bulb moments" when someone gets it in class.  I like to see couples get information and make informed decisions when it comes to the birth of their baby.

If you had a great birth, there are lots of ways you can spread the good news of natural childbirth besides being a doula or midwife.  Those professions are often not that practical for moms with small children or babies anyway unless they have a great childcare setup.  Besides education, there are lots of advocacy opportunities.  Check to see if there is a chapter of Birth Network National in your community.  Attend nurse-ins and help normalize breastfeeding in your city.  Ask birth professionals in your area how you can be involved.

In the meantime, you're welcome for not becoming a midwife.


Banned From Baby Showers said...

I failed to mention what a selfish sleeper I am. I couldn't handle getting up all hours of the night and actually having to perform my job. I'd rather drink bleach.

Janie said...

I'd love to be a midwife.
Honestly it scares me though. I 100% believe in uninterrupted birth. I just wish I could get over the fear and I'd be on my way to midwifery.

Emily said...

I get this question all the time, as a doula. "So, you want to be a midwife one day?" Heck no. I can do doula work as much or as little as I like, get my labor/birth/baby fix in, and then go on with other things in life. In order to make a living, midwives have to be midwives 24/7/365. I just couldn't stand being on-call ALL THE TIME. And I agree, all that charting and un-fun stuff would just not be worth it for me.

I'm also moving into childbirth education so that I can get my fix of spreading the good news of natural childbirth to many couples instead of just one doula client at a time. Also an important job, and somebody's gotta do it! :)

Susan Skok Martin said...

People ask me to if I plan on becoming a midwife, and I have to say, "Hell, no!" Mainly because of the stitching and blood factor - I am not a medical type (that's my husband's job in our family with cuts and loose teeth!).

But I do love being a birth educator. And I especially love being a breastfeeding counselor. But, even these things are tough to fit in with taking care of a family. Being away for long hours as a doula or midwife wouldn't work for my family - they would be pretty stressed.

That being said, I feel so grateful for all the wonderful midwifes and doulas out there. And it's good to remember that if you have young ones, that they do grow and even if now is not the time to pursue being a midwife or doula, that your little ones will grow and there will be a right time.

I just thought, too, that it's interesting that Donna says she would make a rotten midwife - no I don't know if that's true or not (lol!) but being a terrific teacher/educator requires special skills that not everyone has either - the ability to inspire, convey your message intelligently, to entertain and hold people's attention and to manage a group of people well (among other skills). Not everyone can be an effective teacher, either. There is a niche for everyone!

Natalie StJohn said...

I want to be a midwife, but all the paperwork may make me change my mind. Also the high level of autonomy scares me, so I'm in no rush to become one.

Janie said...

this post kind of stuck in my side yesterday.
I agree if its not for you that a-ok, but we do need a new generation of midwives for our daughters. I hope the positives of the profession outweigh the negatives enough to help it grow and women's options as well.

Sara said...

The paperwork scares me to death. I would love to be a midwife, I think, other than the paperwork...I really don't mind getting out of bed (if you can wake me up!), and I can be pretty patient. Also I would hate asking for payment. Even as a doula I haven't gotten paid yet, because I have a hard time charging!su

Ironically, my current midwife seems to be the same way- every time she sees me she says, "so what did we talk about for payment?". LOL! I'm almost 29 weeks pregnant! She doesn't seem to be great with paperwork or finances either...

AtYourCervix said...

Hey! I'm a student nurse-midwife -- some of us love the idea of prenatal care, labor sitting, catching babes, sleepless nights, and oodles of paperwork (ok, so I'm not fond of the paperwork, but I'll deal with it).

But, kudos for those who realize that midwifery is not all warm and fuzzy. And realize their limits of what they will and will not do.

We need more childbirth educators too!