One of the main themes of my desire to follow midwifery has been protection.
As a first time mom I both bore witness to feelings of not being protected in certain ways throughout my pregnancy and birth and postpartum, and I simultaneously had this newly budding yet fiercely developed protection of my baby's life. I found myself in this state of confusion as to why no one treated me and my baby in the way that I thought was appropriate. I had an inkling that things could be different, they should be, yet I wasn't quite sure how to find that.
After getting into birth work myself I discovered incredibly different roles of care providers at births, how some valued the role of protection- mind, body, spirit- and most didn't. I knew that I couldn't change what they did, but I could change what I did. I made it my role, within its limited scope as a doula, to protect as much as I could. Through education, through connection and relationship, through love and care, and through presence.
After attending my first homebirth as a doula, I noted the differences and saw that this particular family felt a different level of protection. They were known, intimately, after around 13 or so hours of prenatal care with their midwife, and the midwife knew her past experiences, where her sensitivities and hurts were, and how her husband wanted to be involved in the experience. Her baby barely touched by anyone else besides those in the family, the lights kept dim, the clinical aspects of the job performed with the utmost safety and concern- but within a framework of quiet reverence. It was so other, so clear, so impactful.
As I traversed through midwifery school and found myself caring for moms with histories of sexual assault, or strained relationships, or second+ time moms who were scarred after their previous birth experiences, or first time moms desiring to start their families in an empowered way...I realized the role of midwifery as a whole is a protective one. Not only do we learn all the skills to protect in cases of emergent situations, but the practice in and of itself is a protective art. Yes we are helping to protect moms and babies from unnecessary interventions, yes we are protecting the space of families to soak in this experience together, yes we are protecting physiological birth, but we are protecting so much more at the same time.
In a country where our maternal mortality is astronomically high and incredibly atrocious, I see the midwifery model of care as a beacon- the same beacon I was looking for as a first time mom who was left feeling confused by her experience where she was not known, she was not protected. This beacon is glowing brightly from a lighthouse, steadfast and consistent, creating safe harbors and protected travels. Midwifery is that different way I knew in my heart was out there.
Not only are the statistics for midwifery care reassuring and encouraging, but the heart of midwifery itself is too. Our intimate prenatal care allows us to get to know you deeply, our presence at your birth provides safety support physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and our consistent interactions postpartum help protect the fourth trimester, and beyond, as this new life gently and respectfully gets to know the world around it- and you get to know this new season you too have been birthed into.
We get to protect all. the. things. Moms Babies. Dads, The safety and sanctity of this season. the psychological integrity of birth. The hearts of families. The bodies of moms and babies.
While we can't control the stories themselves and the lessons we all can learn from them, we as midwives can control the guidance, shelter, care, preservation and security we provide for our clients. Midwifery is a fortifying skill, a protective art, and a story. A story that is worth hearing. And you? You have a story worth telling.