NOTE: This article is not wholly my original content, but was adapted from an article shared by a student-midwife colleague (thanks Doran!) on a midwifery list serve. No authorship was offered, other than to refer to the author, "from a friend"... otherwise I would give credit where credit is due. Thus, I have "tweaked" and "fine-tuned" the original to fit my own perspective on the "job" of being a midwife. Enjoy.
I am a teacher of an age-old "profession" which carries great responsibility. It is almost a given that a midwife will train others to be midwives, this is how midwifery has survived all of these years. Though I don't feel that I am a great teacher, I love to share what I know… there is much to glean from me and if someone is willing and observant enough, they will learn the art & skills of midwifery as they sit at my side, as they lend me a hand, and as they serve the women with me.
You'll see me at the copy place as I work for hours, making copies, putting together the information that I have been given, and that I have created, that gives the best informed consent I can provide. I want all those who hire me to know who I am and what the responsibilities are when they choose to give birth outside of a hospital. Making copies, creating folders and booklets of information, ordering books and DVDs, staying informed in all the ways available. It can be exhausting, but I know it is a necessary part of being a current midwife, one who teaches others how best to interview a midwife & plan a home birth. I need to continue to learn and to discover, especially what evidenced-based care is - and practice it.
I keep my supplies stocked and inventory my bags, car, office & home supplies to ensure I have everything I need for every birth. You will sometimes find me sterilizing instruments at midnight or 1 in the morning because they didn't get done earlier in the day and a baby might decide it's not going to wait until the midwife has time the next day.
I am trained and certified to resuscitate newly born babies, the ones that seem to think that breathing is an option… I don't allow them this lazy notion and go to work, convincing them that it’s not so bad here after all. Nevertheless, the greatest teacher I have ever had was baby Caroline, who taught me that it was not MY decision whether she stayed or left and that I could do everything right and yet I was not in control. She left.
There is no job "beneath" my title - I wipe away vomit, clean toilets, and feed the family dog. I hope to never feel that I have "earned" anything better. A midwife should always know that she is there to serve, in any way that is needed, and it has nothing to do with what her needs are.
I am an ambassador for all midwives when I enter a doctor's office, clinic, or hospital and I take this responsibility very seriously. I've learned that I gain more trust and respect by saying fewer words and respectfully admitting our need for assistance and collaboration during a consult or transport. I have worked hard, for many years, but respect has been attained and my clients have received better care because of this simple principle of humility. A midwife has to be strong for her clients, they need to know she will not waiver. I have learned to have a “thick skin” when entering a hospital, while being professional and cooperative all at the same time. A midwife needs to learn from those who may not even realize that they are teaching her. There is always something to glean and take with you for another time. A midwife never stops learning. I have changed and matured over time, learning to be mindful and learning to listen to the voice of intuition.
Midwifery is a precious calling and it truly can be the easiest thing in the world, but now you know that it comes with much more than just “catching babies”!