I hear from women regularly about their homebirth experiences. And being in the business of rabble rousing and questioning the status quo, many of these women who seek us out are unhappy with the care they received from their midwives, not just OBs. There are plenty of variations on the same theme. Midwives aren’t listening to women anymore. Midwifery care feels just as cold and clinical as OB care, just with a rocking chair and some nice music in the background. The rules and regulations are more important than the mother’s wishes. The midwife says she is hands off, or flexible, but when it comes down to it, she really isn’t, and the mother is left with few options at the end of pregnancy or during the birth – maybe the baby is breech, or she is getting closer to 42 weeks, or doesn’t want to transport but the midwife is unsupportive. Seriously. EVERY. WEEK. I hear stories, get emails, talk in person or on the phone to these women. They thought that they were hiring a midwife, and that meant they would get holistic, evidence based care, and flexible care that was woman centered. Well, they were wrong, and they are pissed. This is why I wrote “A Midwife is Not a Midwife is Not a Midwife” and why Maryn wrote “4 Questions You Must Ask Your Midwife”.
But it bears repeating, and maybe more articles means more women find this. Midwives are not all the same. It is an unfortunate reality that you cannot trust someone to help you in a woman centered way just because they are a midwife. If you think you found an awesome midwife, you still need to put on your sleuth hat and do some serious digging. If she is offended by your skepticism or questioning, she is probably one of these crappy midwives who will treat you like an inconvenience later on when you ask for something that she doesn’t want to do for whatever reason (you don’t want vaginal exams, you want less or no fetal monitoring, you want to birth your breech baby at home, you want to wait a few more hours in a long labor, you name it). An awesome midwife who will support and serve you however you see fit will have no problem with you asking questions and giving her the 3rd degree (no pun intended birth nerds). An awesome midwife will be GLAD you are asking questions and taking responsibility for your own experience. She will want you to be sure that she is the right fit. If you interview with a midwife, she should give you the names of all the other midwives in your area and encourage you to interview with them too so you can find the best fit. If she doesn’t do this, it’s a great sign that midwifery is just a business to her, and you are just a dollar sign and a slot filled in your due month. I wouldn’t want to work with someone who would have had a better, more supported, more fulfilled experience with another midwife or birth attendant because the relationship between birth attendant and mother is KEY to a respectful, pleasant experience. Without that, what do midwives think they are doing?
Unfortunately, if you’re reading this, you have likely already experienced this yourself, and you are no longer one of the people that needs the warning. I want to find a way to get this information to women who are having their first babies and have become enamored with their crappy midwife because they just haven’t asked the right questions yet. I want to get this information to women who are planning their first homebirth and think anyone is better than the OB they saw for their previous pregnancy/ies. How do we make this clearer to these women? I really don’t know the answer. I have tried all manner of subtlety – suggesting they interview other people (usually met with confusion about why they would need to if they already hired a midwife), saying that I’ve heard both good and bad things about the person someone has hired (usually a lie since I’ve probably heard only bad things), telling them they should take our class (in efforts to prompt them to ask their midwives the hard questions once they learn more about the hot topics). None of these has worked particularly well. What do you think Indie Birth mamas? What brought you to the dark corners of the internet to find us? Is there something that could have, or did help you see through the smoke and mirrors of modern midwifery?