This week I am in Chesapeake, Virginia, with my sister, at her home–along with her husband, her son and my son, we are anxiously awaiting the debut of her baby. Baby is literally due any day now, and if she/he chooses to come soon, she/he will have a beautiful homebirth nestled in a pretty decent snowstorm. Quite the change from Sedona–I am rather enjoying it and super excited to greet my new niece or nephew. Tonight is the full moon-come on, baby!
Since I only have my youngest with me (and the one gestating too, of course:) I am trying to enjoy my slower pace. No prenatal appointments to do, none of my other 3 children wanting my attention. A bit simple for me, but different. I have actually had the time to read–can you believe it? And not a text book, or someone’s lab report. But a real book, and not fiction either. Go get Birth Models That Work, edited by Robbie Davis Floyd (who autographed my copy!), Lesley Barclay, Betty-Anne Daviss and Jan Tritten. A fabulous, fabulous, inspiring read that I want to encourage all midwives and birth workers to find. And to sit down with, and study and let encourage us all to think about how and why birth models are so different all over the world. The book highlights the contrast (and this is my own interpretation, living and midwifing here in the US) between how the birth system here is so unsuccessfully about homebirth and how in other countries, it is less about the place but the midwifery model of care.
I seem to sense a pattern here. I made a short video about it last week–pretty basic explanation about how/why midwifery care is so different from obstetrician care and how THAT is really the difference between home and hospital birth. And I pick up this book, only to be confirmed in my thoughts about that and realize that I am on the right track focusing more on the care and less about the location.
And I have gotten on my soapbox and written about this before–our birth sytem here in the US is broken. This book inspired me, in a very positive way but confirmed that there are “models” working all over the world that we need to study and try to at least partly adopt. In my small community, whether it be in Sedona, Cottonwood or Flagstaff, Arizona (all surrounding towns where I work), I see it is absolutely NOT about getting more homebirth clients. If I were to take on 100 new clients tomorrow, the system here would not be improved as I am no more supported to help that many women than I am now (not to mention a client load like that would be impossible for one midwife to take on). I still live in a medically hostile community, I still do not have any doctor back up and my clients may still be treated poorly at the hospital when transported.
So, enough complaining! In my thoughts and dreams, I think about the chapter in this book on Japan’s “maternity homes.” I love how the Japanese family and community is welcome here, and how it seems like an ideal birth center and amazing option for Japanese women (plus, the cultural taboo on elective cesareans strikes a chord). I am inspired by the Albany Midwifery Practice in the United Kingdom. Following the midwifery model of care, this practice has seven midwives in partnership, with each pregnant woman being named 2 of the midwives as her caregivers. The midwives are self-employed and self-managed, and part of their care to women includes free pre- and postpartum mama support groups. The practice is obviously established and respected, serving over 200 women a year. The characteristic that resonates most with me is that the women commit to a normal birth. The decision to birth at home, or not, is made once labor is established and there is no commitment made to birth in a certain location before it is time to decide. This is one of the key components, to me, of making midwifery care our model of choice in this country. I believe that so many more women would commit to midwifery care, and truly benefit from it. The decision to birth at home as a result of this care would just be icing on the cake.
This book is awesome and inspiring, and the above mentions are just but a few of the incredible examples of birth models that work. One of my personal favorites, to which I will write a separate blog post soon, is about an OB in Brazil (Dr. Ricardo Jones) who attends home births. For me, the idea of a compassionate, women-centered doctor seeing birth as sexual was completely engaging and fascinating.
Please check this book out and let me know what you think! The latest update- My new niece or nephew is indeed on the way (her water just broke, hurrah!) so I leave thoughts of birth models to attend to the newest life coming earthside……
Blessings to all on this Full Moon!