labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Friday, November 23, 2007


My semester is coming to a close soon, and I have somehow managed to be ahead of my school work today. So I thought I'd allow myself to procrastinate a little bit before moving on to the next bit of work laying ahead of me.

The other day I was in a major department store, looking for a gift for my preceptor. An older woman wearing way too much make-up and large circa 1980 spectacles covering 75% of her face approaches me and asks what I was looking for. I told her that there was nothing specific, and I'd get her when I needed help. But she was one of those persistent types that wasn't going to let me go that easy.

She asks who I was shopping for, and I tell her. She launches into a story about her son who is a graduate student interning at a major media firm in Chicago. She was dropping names left and right, like I might actually know who they are (as far as I know they are the idiots putting out the lame ass McDonalds commercials). Then she asks what I am in school for. When I tell her, "nurse-midwifery", she starts cooing and squealing like a pig being thrown it's slop.

She starts telling me that there are so many jobs out there for this that I'll have no problems. I said that I think she meant nursing jobs, not nurse-midwifery jobs. She says, "No, no, nurse-midwifes (yes, she said midwifes, this is not a typo). I know there are jobs!" I begin explaining the difference, that there are tons of nursing jobs but in this area there aren't many nurse-midwife jobs available. Again she tells me I am wrong.

I began to explain the demographics of midwives in the area and the obstetrical dominance that marginalizes nurse-midwifery practice. And then I realized, why am I arguing with this saleswoman? I am happy that she thinks nurse-midwives are great and that there is a strong demand for them, but would educating her make a difference?

It made me think of the J&J nursing campaign (which, by the way, I can't stand) that was launched to the public. My understanding was the purpose was two-fold: increase the numbers of people entering the profession and help the public understand the importance of nursing. My problem with it was that you can't possibly convey what nurses do in a 30 or 60 second commercial slot without ending up with some hokey saying and little vignettes of smiling nurses holding the hand of an elderly person in a wheelchair. Is that really effective?

There has been some talk (somewhere, can't remember where) of putting a campaign out for nurse-midwifery to help the public understand what CNMs do and gain their support. But can you imagine what that spot would look like? Some midwife would be shown holding a newborn, smiling over at the mother who is sitting pretty in her hospital bed. Or some other such simplified scene. In my opinion, I find this potential campaign insulting... even more so than the J&J campaign.

The question remains: how do we strengthen the nurse-midwifery profession and have the public's support? I can't foresee this being an easy task.

1 comment:

Cyndi Gross said...

Actually, there is a huge campaign. I don't know if this is the one you are referring to, but the LA Times is doing a feature story on the "Re-emergence" of Midwifery Nationally to Mainstream Women's Healthcare on

The center of this story is that midwives and OB's are listed in the same category. They answer the same list of questions. Users are also asked that same list of questions for the match. So, a women who is looking for an OB, will find a midwife may also be an option for her.

In 2008 MyBirthTeam will be joined by MyEHealthTeam and MySeniorHealthTeam as part of a Health Match Tri-Site. Midwives will again be in the same category and answer the same list of questions as a GYN for the match. So, women looking for a GYN will also find that midwives can offer Well Women Care as well. This will be an effective way to begin to educate the public of the many choices available to them.

The campaign goal is to list 1000 midwives across the country. MyBirthTeam recently partnered with the American College of Nurse Midwives to list its members nationally on MyBirthTeam.

The way to strengthen the midwifery profession and have public support is to put midwifery back in the minds of mothers. It needs to start with the women you serve by showing them that you are there as a choice amongst the rest.