In the world of pregnant women, needs can be many. But the choices are many too-one of the most important being how to choose your caregiver. To generalize, choosing an OB is a lot less fraught with choices than perhaps picking a midwife is. But the ideal midwife-client relationship should be the choosing of not only the client, but the midwife too. That means that a midwife should make clear her philosophy so she hopefully attracts the “right” clients for her. And the client should really think about what she wants in a midwife and what is important to her in her prenatal care.
Having been a pregnant woman three times (as well as a very new midwife), I certainly have my own opinions about being on both sides of the fence. As a pregnant woman, it is most important to me to receive really good, really informed care from a woman I like and respect as a friend. But I like the line between midwife and friend to kind of stay clear, at least during my prenatal period. It’s not that I don’t want my midwife as my friend, but I selfishly like the “care” to be about me and my baby. I’ve hired midwives to do just that, and I never expected or wanted too much more from them. That is who I am and what I have found I need.
I think my needs as a pregnant woman, along with the kind of woman I am, have begun to shape the kind of midwife I am. And as there is a midwife for every woman (and a woman for every midwife), I am working on not feeling the need to apologize for who I am and the “way” I like to work with my clients. And as a midwife, I am very similar to what I would be looking for. I like to develop a solid relationship with my clients, and and I enjoy becoming part of their lives.
But it is most important, beyond that, to ensure that they have adequate information and resources to make their own decisions. The power within is the most powerful- and it is my passion to help women realize that in themselves. I am probably not the best choice, at least at this point, for a woman that needs a best friend more than she needs a guide. I am always happy when friendships develop with women that I have walked with, but my ultimate goal is to help empower them and educate them as they make important decisions or choices.
As a midwife, it is becoming increasingly important to me to be who I am.
I feel that it is only then that I can really serve women as I am meant to. Unfortunately, whenever one is true to oneself, she cannot be the midwife for every woman. I am coming to terms that being who I am is most important, and if I do that, the “right” women will find me and I will find them. And as a prospective client, I urge women to be who they really are as well. If they have needs they are honest about that I don’t think I can fill, it is only right they find a midwife who will. And if they are really honest about what they are looking for and where they want to go, the right match is inevitable.
The beauty of being a woman (whether midwife, mother, artist, wife, etc.) is that there is no one way, no “right way” to do it, whatever “it” is. It is so easy to get in the groove of what we do, and what we love to do- that somehow there is only one way to do it, and it is our way. This is a mistake, and takes the power away from ALL women. It is possible to be who we are, without wanting or expecting anyone else to follow in our footsteps.
And the flip side of “being who you are” (and whether you are a midwife, or a pregnant woman) is asking for what you need. Sometimes needs change, or things become unclear or muddy in the emotional process of pregnancy and preparing for labor and birth. But asking for what you need-whether it is more support with an emotional issue, during pregnancy or as a midwife asking a client to assume more responsibility in her care- is the only way to stay honest and ensure a successful relationship. People change, and things change- and if you are not getting what you need, you need to ask.
The way I see it, these 2 “mantras” are my answer (for now!) to the complex midwife-woman relationship. It takes everyone being true to herself, and making that clear. Just as importantly, it also takes the trust to ask for what you need if and when you are not getting it. This ensures that the right relationship, between the right women, develops -and that it stands strong and secure regardless.