Sunday, September 11, 2011

Learning to Speak Fluent Midwifery

Two days ago I had an idea for my next blog entry, this morning I had a midwifery newsletter in my inbox with an article on the same subject I was thinking about so it must be important.  It’s the idea of learning to speak “midwifery.” 
The word “midwife” means “with woman.”  The very nature of the word implies a trust of birth and women’s bodies.
Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to hear two physicians discussing a birth.  Neither are physicians I work with nor are they even physicians that practice in Idaho Falls.  One asked the other how things were on the labor and delivery unit where they both practiced.  The female physician responded with “they just delivered the last one.”  The male physician then began to relate the experience he had with a woman giving birth earlier in the day. He shared with the female physician that she was a “primigravida that was 8 cm with a posterior baby.  I was about to do a Ceasarean but the nurse called and said that she might be making some progress.  I checked her awhile later and she was complete so I ‘let’ her push but I didn’t think she would make it but she did start to make some progress so I couldn’t do a C-section. Then she finally delivered-I couldn’t believe it.”  He appeared to be very upset about his inability to justify doing  a c-section because (the nerve of this woman) she was making progress. 
Several things about this conversation struck a nerve with me that caused me to bite my tongue.  First was the female physician’s response “they just delivered the last one.”  She took all credit and focus from the women giving birth and put the credit on the staff that “delivered” the babies.  The women giving birth were merely “jobs” for the staff to complete-another task to check off the list. 
The next thing that struck me was the attitude of the male physician toward the woman making “slow” progress.  There was no discussion of anything that was done to help turn this baby-only eagerness to cut the baby out.  He didn’t mention changing maternal position, he didn’t express any desire to have patience to let the baby come down on its own.  In fact, he seemed very disappointed that she had a vaginal birth instead of a surgical birth.   
I began to wonder how the same conversation would have gone between two practitioners that trust birth and trust women.   I imagine the female provider would have responded to the male provider’s initial question with something more like “the last mother in labor just gave birth.”  The discussion about the “primigravida” with “slow” progress may have been filled with excitement at the woman’s strength and power and trust in her ability to birth.  C-section would probably have not even been mentioned.  Instead of “I can’t believe she did it” the practitioners would have rejoiced in another successful birth with a healthy mom and a healthy baby. 
I absolutely love my job because to me, it’s more than just a job.  Pizzas are “delivered” in 30 minutes or less.  Births are a process to be trusted, celebrated and not rushed.