So you want to be a midwife?

Finishing out National Midwifery Week, I thought it fitting to link to Navelgazing Midwife’s post “Apprentice Midwife Material?” It’s an eye-opening look at the unglamorous side of midwifery (particularly home-birth midwifery).

“I want to hold babies” is a common refrain from the women who sit across from me. I smile and say, “Listen, we only hold babies from here (the vagina/vulva) to here (the abdomen).” Taken aback, I’m assuming they just hadn’t thought of that since their faces goes blank. I then begin listing the things a midwife does hold: sweaty hair, the barf bowl as the woman throws up in it, the laboring woman as she dangles and the mother’s hand as she squeezes it white and bloodless. We hold placentas as we demonstrate their amazing beauty. We hold scrub brushes as we wash blood off our instruments. We hold needle holders as we suture vulvas. It’s important to me to make sure the woman knows the unglamorous parts of the “calling”/”job”, just as much as she knows about the good parts.


3 Responses

  1. Good post. Some folks think that we hold babies all day. A woman today said that to me. I wanted to ask her how she felt about holding dead babies but I refrained.

    You have to embrace the whole job. You cannot just pick and choose the tasks you like to do.

  2. The reasons she lists, about holding barf bowls and limp women just make me so excited. I knew it was my calling, but once I read her post when she first wrote it I absolutely knew it is what I was destined to do.

    Even attending my first home birth was incredibly intense, and I wouldn’t trade the cleaning up blood, or holding a leg or arm for anything.

  3. I loved that post. I have regretfully decided (at least for now) that i am not cut out to be a midwife… not for any of the reasons she lists (I’m totally fine – and even excited – about that stuff) but simply for personality reasons – I simply don’t have the right personality, either in personal relations or in take-charge/take-responsibility abilities. I’m much more of an assistant than a leader. So….. it’ll be a long time before I find out where I fit in. The birth world is unfortunately filled with careers and hobbies that are all front-lines positions!!!

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