Go Risk Yourself

August 3, 2016

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit. With 12 children and 20 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.


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After yet another discussion about what “we” should do as midwives when parents go rogue and won’t take our advice, or acquiesce when “we” try to risk them out of home birth care, I had a lovely discussion/rant with Maryn about how frustrating it is to see this conversations happening time and again. “That woman is no longer low risk and it is reckless of her to go against the advice of her midwife to transfer care”. “It is a huge red flag that she won’t consent to what the midwife is telling her – why did she hire her if not to tell her when she was no longer a home birth candidate?”. “I would call 911 if I was concerned for her safety, and have her turn away EMS if she really won’t consent to transport, that way you are covered and no longer liable”. These are the sentiments that come up when discussing these real or hypothetical scenarios where these pesky women are saying a big F*** YOU when their midwife “risks them out”, and assert that if the midwife won’t help them, they’ll just have to do it themselves. 

Most of the time when this happens in real life, the parents listen and go along with the risking out (sometimes for good reason I am sure!). It is rare for a mom to stand up and say “No Way Jose!”, and when she does she gets talked about on social media, chastised for being a reckless, mentally unstable person who doesn’t care about orphaning her children. Instead of saying, perhaps these women are intelligent human beings who DISAGREE WITH YOU. As if pregnant people are not allowed to disagree with midwives, since we are a saintly all knowing bunch who would never suggest transport unless it was “absolutely necessary”. But the question is, how do we know it is necessary? The same question resurfaces for me continuously – what is high risk? Is it a percentage? It is when transporting would save X% of babies? Or is it just when a pregnant person has a characteristic on a list, ignoring every other piece of information about that person’s health history, lifestyle, and circumstances. How can we be so pompous as to think that that list is THE list, and it will never change as we learn more, and that maybe, just maybe, we are wrong?

So with that, I’d suggest we stop using this language about “risking people out” and instead start talking about risking ourselves as midwives out. This is a much more honest way for us to talk about these situations that do come up. If you are uncomfortable as a care provider, you have every right to say that, and give your reasoning, and to even tell a mom that you can’t care for her anymore. You can step away from the relationship like any other relationship we enter consensually. We cannot call 911 on behalf of a non consenting parent. There is no ethical place for this in my opinion. We owe it to the people we are working with to treat them like adults that we respect (or we shouldn’t be working with them in the first place). Putting it this way, risking ourselves out as the midwife, allows pregnant women to decide what their next move is, rather than us telling her that she has been removed from the home birth box with or without her consent. So for the pregnant families out there that have been told or might be soon be told they have been risked out, tell your midwife to GO RISK HERSELF.

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  1. Kayla Shanti says:

    I love that post! Truly what I think. Ask your midwife to risk herself out and you will see how they most of them will run away! Yes to more radical without compromise midwife! It will be the remedie to all the medwife of this world!✨?

  2. Katie Moore says:

    My CPM midwife never told me in her obsession over my unknown, undeterminable EDD that ultrasounds grow increasingly inaccurate the farther into pregnancy you get. I have irregular cycles and refused the 20 week ultrasound over safety concerns. But late in the pregnancy (she thought), this midwife threatened to drop us if we did not consent to what I think was total self-preservation on her part. She forced TWO biophysical profiles, both of which showed nothing wrong, yet she disbelieved them. She demanded acupuncture next, and despite the acupuncturist witnessing that everything was fine and my meridians indicated the baby was NOT ready to be born yet, she threw that out too. Eventually CPM said we were “costing her too much money to keep visiting” at our home. She had me taking cottonseed extract, even, which is an abortificant. Turns out that all along It was HER fear over my gestational anemia and her own CYA impulse which were the basis upon which our 4th child was unnecessarily induced – two weeks early, as it turns out. CPM also pressured us to have her apprentice present, whom we had not invited, but who happened to be a doula. Guess who CPM put in charge of the birth while she retreated into a corner, I think, fearing taking the heat of a bad outcome, so proactively dumping it proactively dumping it on her unknowing apprentice, willing to sacrifice apprentice’s future career? It all turned out to all be lies and more lies that our child was past dates, huge in size, had a calcified placenta and more or less doomed to be stillborn without iatrogenic intervention. The attending MD, who forced an IFM so that I might be “allowed” to water birth as promised, stated that our baby’s placenta was the healthiest and largest she had seen in her career, and that the induction. Small comfort that was, since her cord was cut and spurting blood all over just seconds after she was born, with obvious retinal hemorrhage. >:(

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We are mamas and midwives who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are radical, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit to help move us all towards a new more beautiful world. With 12 children and over two decades of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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