… and they make a lot of money.
Are they witches, just waiting for a placenta so that they can make soup? or are they health care professionals, on a par with doctors, slightly higher than the now out of fashion doula?Whatever they are, midwives seem to be here to stay. It takes a certain kind of woman to be one and a certain kind of woman to want one. Moda Terminal recently turned to a Midwife in training to give us the lowdown on the profession.
The Middle-of-the-Road Midwife
“After hearing the wonderful news that an old friend was pregnant, I was horrified to be asked, ‘You’re not going to be all preachy about breastfeeding, are you? I know you’re going to be a midwife, but I just don’t like the idea and I don’t want to do it.’ As an (almost) midwife, I would always say that ‘breast is best’ because it is, and I would always be on-call (as in, 24/7) whilst you did so.
“But it was the image that my friend seemed to be carrying in her head that bothered me the most. No matter that midwifery care is a more mainstream choice in Ontario than ever; it is hard to shake the image of midwives as granola-crunchy, vegan, breastfeeding and home-birth vigilantes.
“It is true that midwives in Ontario are all trained to the same high standard – think 4 year BHSc degree, with at least 2.5 years of clinical experience, and, as a registered health profession, we all must work within the guidelines set by our College. But within these guidelines, a midwife has some latitude about how she carries out care and thus the care can be tailored to the Mum-to-be. Nor is it all about home birth: in most practices I have been at, almost 75% of Mums give birth in the hospital. And yes, we still provide care if you choose to have an epidural. Another fallacy to be destroyed: midwives do not equal no epidural. There are situations where epidurals are a great part of a birth experience, and I may even be the one suggesting it.
“One of the key principles of midwifery care is informed choice, which means that you are in charge of your own care. I believe that you know your body and your lifestyle best, and it is my job to make sure you are informed about and understand what is happening to you and your baby, and why. I will tell you about every procedure, every test and every option you have during your pregnancy, including risks, benefits, community standards, alternatives available and even my own biases, should I have any. I can make recommendations, but I won’t make your decisions for you. I am your advocate as well as your caregiver; I am the one who will keep your wishes forefront even in the hospital, and I will stay with you even if your care is transferred to a physician, as is necessary for a Caesarian section.
“However, I do want to get the message out there that just as the Canadian population is diverse, so is the midwifery population. Actually, I like to consider myself a ‘middle-of-the-road’ (almost) midwife. Do I love home births? I sure do; there’s nothing like bringing a new baby into the world amidst in familial surroundings and then tucking the new family into bed before heading out. But if it is not going to be safe for Mum or baby, I will be the first to suggest a move into the hospital.
“Any midwife will tell you that the best place for a Mum to give birth in is anywhere that she feels safe. If that means my client wants to head to hospital right at the start of active labour, then I am on board and plans will be made to accommodate these wishes. What is important to remember is that I will always tailor my care to my client. If she happens to be a dedicated patient of her naturopathic doctor, then I will do my research and work alongside this practitioner’s advice as long as it is safe to do so. If my Mum-to-be is Mennonite, I will (and have) worn modest clothing and visit when the other children are at school to respect her privacy.
“Still, it is important to remember that midwives are individuals themselves: I am someone you see at Costco, buying ice cream and tortilla chips and (non-recycled) toilet paper. I eat Cool Whip; I love both my car and my brown (real) leather coat. And I am not about to give up roast beef for love nor money. So if you think midwifery care isn’t for you, think again. You don’t have to be 100% organic to enjoy the care of a midwife.“