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

Friday, May 23, 2008

Explaining Midwifery

I have found it very frustrating trying to explain to people what a midwife is, and why a woman would chose one. When I meet people and they learn I am a student midwife, I often get questioned why am I doing it. Aren't midwives old-fashioned? Aren't they illegal? And they only do homebirth without any medications or anything, right?


Today I went to a new electrologist (because I'm a wildebeest) who was making casual conversation. She was in her 20s and very chatty. She asked me all sorts of questions. Was I married. Did I have kids. Did I go to college. Where do I work. And I always feel like I need to answer as closely to reality as possible, which is hard for some to understand. I'm a nurse, I say, and have been for 10 years; I do work but only per diem because I went back to school for midwifery.

Her response: "You have to go to school to do that?"

She then goes on about how when she watches A Baby Story (ahhhhh!!!!!) she often wonders why some women chose a midwife, seeing that doctors are available to everyone. I said that some woman chose midwives because of the approach to birth and women's health; midwives view a women's life cycles as normal and natural that don't require a cure or treatment. We are trained to know what is normal, and what is a deviation from normal that would require physician care or consultation. And as I go on about midwifery, I notice I am totally losing her. So I wrap it up by saying, "Well, obviously I could give you a three hour dissertation on midwifery care, but I'll leave it at that." She laughs a little and moves on to telling me that college was never a thing for her.

So I am wondering what other midwives and student midwives do when asked about "what you do". When you are talking with someone who is completely clueless about midwifery, or has negative stereotypes, what do you say? How do you approach this?


HamiltonDoula said...

I'm "just" a doula, but I get a similar thing all the time. "Oh, but my husband/sister/mother will be with me, why would I need a doula?" "Isn't that what nurses do?" "Isn't that what midwives do?" "Oh, so you're like a midwife!"


When the vast majority of people don't wish to be active participants in pregnancy and childbirth, midwives and doulas must sound like the most useless of occupations.

The Queen of Everything said...

I don't really have a pat answer to that question. I usually like to get a sense of where the person is coming from and go from there. I try to correct misperceptions if there are any! Which there usually are.

~*Spindelicious Handspun*~ said...

Hi! I'm a long-time lurker here, but thought I would come out of the wood work to say that I have the same problem when trying to explain midwifery and why I want to be a midwife. Sometimes I find myself just blabbering on and then feel embarrassed and frustrated because I can't seem to explain myself eloquently enough and I just get blank stares...Also, I am really paranoid about offending women who have had birth experiences in a hospital. I have found that it's a very touchy subject sometimes even though I'm never making a judgement about their birth, I'm just presenting information about other possibilities and other choices. And maybe it's just that midwifery is a hard concept for people to wrap their mind's around when, like you said, "A Baby Story" is the common way that people view birth. *sigh* thanks for the post. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in this frustration :o)

Karen said...

I'm a doula as well. Some of it is the same - what's that? what do you do? Wouldn't it be weird to have someone besides my husband there....etc.
On the other end of the spectrum I have a woman who is 36 weeks pregnant with a breech baby who wants to deliver at home and she is trying to sign a contract with me...glad I though to ask this needling little question: who is your care provider? b/c she hasn't found a homebirth midwife to deliver this breech baby yet. Did I sign it - ummm, no way. How many times have I told people I do not provide medical care & how many times does it say it on the contract? Like, a million!