outside the system

October 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

and…one of my all time favorite posts on licensed midwifery.  not just because she uses my drawing for outlaw midwife in the post.  but because i have not really heard analysis on the canadian systems of health care and midwifery.

ok a couple of years ago i was in chiapas talking to this california midwife at the midwifery clinic in san cris.  and i was telling her how making midwifery more professional, licensed, certified would lead not be helpful to empowering women in birth.  and she told me i was wrong.  didnt know what i was talking about.  and i kept trying to tell her that in minneapolis where i gave birth and is one of the most midwifery friendly cities in the states, midwives are afraid of losing their insurance and so risk out a lot of their patients way too soon.


Wanting to be respected and admired is only human. As midwifery strengthens its professional framework, this respect will naturally emerge. Midwifery needs strong, outspoken, autonomous women to articulate a vision of birth with dignity for all women. Unfortunately, such voices tend to belong to women who are “outside the system.” Once women are in a legalized system, they are silenced. They can be coerced to give unnecessary pharmaceuticals to women and babies (oxytocin, erythromicin, vitamin K) and they become good corporate citizens. The real respect and admiration that comes from knowing that you are true to yourself is missing. This can be a terrible price to pay for a piece of paper and a guaranteed pay cheque.

Since women can give birth by themselves, the right of each woman to choose where, when and with whom she gives birth is the fundamental principle on which any healthy midwifery model is built. Thwarting the growth of the midwifery movement by making it more and more difficult for new midwives to get training and to launch their practices is ridiculous. Instead of constantly knocking the woman off the ladder on the rung below us, we need to reach down and give her a hand up. Training of the new generation is one of the strong suits of the medical profession and midwives would be wise to emulate that desire to multiply colleagues. The future of midwifery rests in the young women who are now working as doulas. This educated group of women is emerging as the midwives of tomorrow and they need all the support and nurturing that practicing midwives can give them so they can be ready to take up the challenge. When midwives focus their time and energy on training the next generation and quit trying to join the dinosaurs that are on their way to extinction, we will find power, respect and joy in our work.


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