I was just reading Navelgazing Midwife’s blog entry on the infamous Dr. Amy’s blog regarding her blatant denial of birth trauma. She evidently does not believe it happens, or that the routine things done to women during birth do not effect women in a traumatic way unless there is a history of abuse in her past. Well, that’s a whole ‘nother subject. I’m too stunned by her assertations to reply at this point.

What really struck me was the list the Navergazer put down as hurtful or harmful for women – things said or done to them in labor. Not just by OB’s, Gyn’s, or nurses but also by midwives. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve heard alot of those things said at homebirths. My question is, “When the woman will not cooperate or LISTEN to the beloved “informed consent” statements and will NOT take responsibility for her and her babies well-being, then what do we do? Step back with folded arms and let a baby be harmed?

I heard a story recounted by a fellow midwife of a woman who wanted to “do labor alone”. She wanted to be left alone to labor, had a plan, etc. When labor came however, it was a different story. For hours she fought her contractions. No progress. Then she began to hurt herself. She began biting herself amd hitting her head on the wall. For awhile the midwife watched, not wanting to interrupt or go against the mom’s pointed wishes. At last she cuold take no more of the high pitched screaming, head banging and biting. She intervened. She held the mom’s hands and caught her eyes with hers. She began to match her breathing, helping her cope. The mom said, “Thank you.” In the end, the baby was fine, the woman had only a couple of bite marks to show for her “independent labor” and no concussion.

It seems to me, that in the interest of fairness we need to realize that there will be women in our care as midwives that NEED intervention. I’m not talking about needles and sutures and episiotomies and continuous monitoring. I’m talking about emotional and psychological intervention. Because let’s face it. In our culture here in the midwest birthing is NOT seen as natural and women are NOT brought up to believe they are powerful, life-giving creatures. They are raised to believe they are victims, in need of salvation, by and large and it can take a lifetime of work to undo the belief system that leaves women helpless in the hands of their care providers.

The list of harmful things  Navelgazing Midwife  put out was SO eye-opening. Words are so powerful. They contain life and death. Thanks Navelgazer for putting that up (don’t know where you got it, maybe it’s original, if so… COOL!). Let’s think of healthy ways of saying things, if they need said, as we prepare and work towards a culture of powerful birthing mothers.


One thought on “Balance

  1. It is indeed my own list.

    As a midwife talking to another, I absolutely understand the issue of helping a woman through her labor. While I have had to “play mean” at times, it is ALWAYS with consent… even if the consent was during the pregnancy.

    We talk, throughout the pregnancy, about the “what-if’s” – and how I might react/act if those things come up. In the trust building that occurs during the prenatal period, I believe I have now found the balance of being able to suggest/demand things without the client being angry afterwards. I am VERY careful whom I choose as clients and while surprises are always possible, I do my best to make sure we have a distinct understanding before labor begins.

    Remember, my list was mostly compiled while I was a doula in hospitals and a midwifery student with some not-so-tender midwives. As a monitrice or a midwife transferring/transporting a woman, I believe I am strong enough to counter some of the crap I dealt with in a subservient way as an apprentice or doula.

    Thank you for bringing the post to light. I really, really love when women share their painful words with me. I think it helps a lot to have a midwife validate their experiences.

    Much love to a sister-midwife.

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