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Why Are We Asking Doctors if Women Should Have Midwives?

A recent article asks. Good point, why are we asking doctors what women need in childbirth? This article fittingly titled Birth Monopoly states "It may be hard for those of us born and raised in the U.S. to wrap our heads around the fact that midwife-led care is the global Gold Standard for mother/baby health. For just a moment, though, suspend what you think you know, and consider that the U.S. has a uniquely dysfunctional system of maternity care, along with some famously poor outcomes for mothers and babies. It’s helpful, then, to look outside our own system to see how things can be done better. "

This is a point I personally have been attempting to make for over 20 years. First, as a young single mother who worked with midwives and was shocked that this amazing, empowering, in-depth care was not part of our main stream health care system. I picked up a copy of Immaculate Deception from the library and devoured the history of Obstetrics. Wondering how and when did we move birth out of our homes with midwives and into the hospital? Its fascinating really, the erosion of power in childbirth from the birthing mother to her curtailing to a doctor about her body and the knowledge women have always held collectively. For the majority of women, this is not a medical emergency. Its a biological function of our bodies, like eating, having sex and eliminating waste.

Just for kicks I looked up statistics of deaths related to the above and ran into an article titled Top 25 most common causes of death. Guess whats not on there? Childbirth. However #15 is "complications from a medical procedure or surgery". Do some women/babies need medical attention during or soon after birth? Absolutely. Please don't get me wrong, I am not anti-hospital or anti-doctor. The medical advances we have, used judiciously, save lives. I am however, pro knowledge, I am also a minimalist and I believe that the human body was designed perfectly. I believe that when we step in and interfere with this perfectly balanced and symbiotic relationship we cause a ripple effect. Mothers and babies left to follow their instincts, monitored by a medical professional have better outcomes than when that balance is thrown off by unnecessary interventions.

The article goes on to say. "Both professions are absolutely necessary, and the best scenario for families is one where midwives and obstetricians collaborate seamlessly, as a team. Women and babies benefit from top-notch prenatal care and the best chance of a healthy, uncomplicated birth, with the safety net of a specialized surgeon for the rare but real complications that may arise. "

I was at a birth a few days ago where the OB admitted "The best thing I could do was leave the room" She had no skills in managing a labor and her fear of what could go wrong was inhibiting the mom's progress. (All self-proclaimed) What made the biggest difference for this momma in having an unmedicated non-surgical birth? (The Dr. was moments away from "calling" it.) What made the difference was two women with her (one me as the doula and one a nurse who was a midwife in England previously for 20 years) who believed she could. We got her up and moving, listening to her body, and put her on a birth stool to push! All tools utilized by midwives. This birth was a perfect example of how midwives and doctors working together can create optimal outcomes for mom and baby. And equally important... give the power back to the birthing woman, who is discovering herself as a mother through this experience.

I'm realizing that part of my journey right now in moving from running a midwifery business to being a doula , is to experience the other side of maternity care first hand. I was afraid of working in the hospital. Thought that our differences in philosophy would put us at odds. But honestly it has been a lovely partnership in supporting families. As it should be.

The mission of the Sanctuary was to "change the way birth is managed and perceived in this country". I can see that I still hold this mission close to my heart... the new road to achieving it is unfolding in front of me.

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