I've never done it before.... do you trust me? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 37 Old 05-23-2011, 08:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I could not help but throw this one out there to the greater Mothering community, as I trust many an honest response in return! 

 

Is a female Doula/Midwife "not as experienced" if she has not been pregnant or had a birth herself? I am a student midwife right now, as well as a doula, and I really wonder what moms, midwife & doula moms, and non-mom midwives & doulas really think.

 

I feel such a deep connection to birth, women, children, the earth, the sacred feminine, and life in general, but I have not experienced the very thing that I am assisting in managing. The artist in me does tend to believe that I'll only have the true picture once I have been there myself. However, that is some time from now (both my hubby and I are students and have chosen to wait--but eagerly look forward to parenthood), so in the meanwhile....... I dunno.

 

I once had a very birth-experienced colleague relay to me in so many words that she considered midwives who had not themselves experienced pregnancy and/or birth to be lacking. I completely respected her viewpoint, but I felt a bit weird nonetheless! It spurred the feeling that until that day, I will be less of a birthcare provider, in one capacity or another. And what if I never do--or cannot--have a baby?? The feeling of lack because of that thought is not something I particularly buy into, but I still feel a bizarre pang of inadequacy here and there. 

 

Well, folks, what do ya think? Lay it on me. 

 

 

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#2 of 37 Old 05-23-2011, 08:46 PM
 
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I have had the same fear you are describing, especially since I am planning to start midwifery school in about a year. A woman who is in training to be a doula spoke in one of my classes last quarter, and she also had the same fear! At least it's good to know it's a common fear :) Anyway, she was speaking to one of the women who is training her, and she was told that it is excellent that she has not given birth. That way, she does not bring her own experiences to the table. She doesn't have an outlook like "my birth went bad when ABCD happened, and I HATED it, so I have to be absolutely certain that I do not let my client experience ABCD." So in that sense, I absolutely think it is a benefit to have not given birth. You aren't trying to a) live vicariously through your client from your birth experience gone wrong, or b) trying to replicate your amazing birth experience for your client. 

Does that make sense?

 

On the other hand, I completely see where not having given birth could be seen as a down side. But honestly, an oncologist doesn't have to have had cancer to treat it. It's about what you know about the procedures, how to help women in labor, how to be an advocate, and how to be a wonderful professional. And this means keeping your life separate from your work. I definitely think that once I do have a child (if I do!) it will change the way I view labor and delivery. But that doesn't mean that i think what I do up to that point will be bad!

 

I remember from the book "Baby Catcher" that Peggy Vincent said that once she had given birth herself, she learned that she had to let women deal with the pain the way THEY wanted to deal with it. She took a more "hands-off" approach, because she had been there and knew that when she felt that pain, there were some things that could comfort and others that were just useless! 

 

Sorry for the novel there! That's just my thoughts!

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#3 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreciate your input!! I feel like no-kiddo[-yet] MWs/doulas have a unique outlook on birth, having no experience of their on which to base assumptions/whatever. I have met women who are involved with the birth universe because they want to change things based on what they disliked about their previous birth experience. It can be easily and understandably be negative or aggressive, which goes south really fast in many cases. Then again, I know that many women are drawn into birth universe for the same reasons, and I am so thankful that they were--they are absolutely incredible and they use their challenging experiences to make it better for all! I know that my interest with birth has much to do with the exploration of my being, and I look forward to connecting it all during my birth experience one day. (p.s. Good luck, siemeers, MW school rocks, and you'll rock too!) 

 

What do moms out there think? Is the choice to have or not have a MW/doula who has never been pregnant an issue, or is it simply personal preference that decides? 


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#4 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 08:06 PM
 
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I can only offer the opinion of a midwife in the same boat! I'm married with no kiddos yet, happily and by choice for now. That question always goes through my mind. What do people think?! In the end, I think of Ina May Gaskin who is the 'mother of midwifery' and yet has never had any babies of her own! I went through school with a whole slew of women that weren't even married much less have a baby! Its interesting how all of our perspectives are changing now that we are in different stages in life!

 

 

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#5 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 08:36 PM
 
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I only learned way after the fact that my midwife was an adoptive mother. She was fabulous - warm, caring, knowledgeable, respectful, knew her pregnancy/birth stuff backward and forward. I recommend her all the time. I really don't think it matters.

To me, it's like asking if an author can write authentically from the perspective of the opposite gender. Of course he or she can. If he or she knows what she's doing.
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#6 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 08:47 PM
 
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Hmmm..that's all really interesting. When I went through my doula training, I was literally the only woman out of a dozen who had actually given birth. Having given birth just 4 months before, I was very birth-obsessed at the time, and I actually remember being a bit bewildered as to how someone would ever think to CHOOSE this sort of work/training without having gone through a birth themselves. It totally baffled me because until I was pregnant, I literally had had zero exposure to birth. Most of these other women had also had no hands on experience assisting someone who was in labor...or watching a loved one birth or whatever...they had just stumbled on this life path that 'felt' right. 

 

However, to answer your question, I'm really kind of sorry to say, that I would probably never hire a doula or midwife that had not previously given birth. Mostly because I would be afraid that their interpretation of birth and what a birth should look like would be skewed in a way that might not answer to reality very well. Does that make sense? It really wouldn't have anything at all to do with their clinical skills...more about the emotional connectivity and my need to absolutely trust them with myself while in the midst of a birth. I just don't think I could fully connect with a doula or midwife who hadn't also experienced birth on a personal level. 

 

I think that Peggy probably got it right in her book...about the whole allowing women more control over their own births. You might not bring your own birth experiences to the table, but you might still bring a sort of fictional interpretation of birth...you know?

 

Idk. i hate how that all sounds a bit mean, but I think it's fairly truthful for me anyway.


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#7 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 10:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemonapple View Post

Hmmm..that's all really interesting. When I went through my doula training, I was literally the only woman out of a dozen who had actually given birth. Having given birth just 4 months before, I was very birth-obsessed at the time, and I actually remember being a bit bewildered as to how someone would ever think to CHOOSE this sort of work/training without having gone through a birth themselves. It totally baffled me because until I was pregnant, I literally had had zero exposure to birth. Most of these other women had also had no hands on experience assisting someone who was in labor...or watching a loved one birth or whatever...they had just stumbled on this life path that 'felt' right. 

 

However, to answer your question, I'm really kind of sorry to say, that I would probably never hire a doula or midwife that had not previously given birth. Mostly because I would be afraid that their interpretation of birth and what a birth should look like would be skewed in a way that might not answer to reality very well. Does that make sense? It really wouldn't have anything at all to do with their clinical skills...more about the emotional connectivity and my need to absolutely trust them with myself while in the midst of a birth. I just don't think I could fully connect with a doula or midwife who hadn't also experienced birth on a personal level. 

 

I think that Peggy probably got it right in her book...about the whole allowing women more control over their own births. You might not bring your own birth experiences to the table, but you might still bring a sort of fictional interpretation of birth...you know?

 

Idk. i hate how that all sounds a bit mean, but I think it's fairly truthful for me anyway.


so you would never go to Ina may Gaskin at the farm. or read her book or listen to her advice. she's one of the great midwives an has never given birth herself. 

 


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#8 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 10:39 PM
 
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A couple of thoughts....

 

I worked as a doula and birth assistant/RN prior to having a child, had my son in midwifery school and now practice as a midwife with one child.  He happened to be born out of the hospital, no meds, straightforward pregnancy and  birth without intervention or complication.  Does that mean I can't adequately support a woman who is dealing with a higher risk pregnancy, is being induced, is choosing an epidural, or is needing a c-section?  Of course not!  Each woman has her own path through pregnancy and birth, and while I certainly can offer my own experience to woman for commiseration or support, it is more often useful to be able to tell them that "many women I have cared for, worked with, supported have felt xyz" - my personal experience just doesn't matter because I am supporting them through *their* experience.

 

Second - not related to the OP, but I was just skimming Spiritual Midwifery a few weeks ago and Ina May describes birthing a premature baby that did not live, and I thought went on to have another child...?


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#9 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 04:37 AM
 
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Ina May has had babies.


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#10 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 12:43 PM
 
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I was mistaken, sorry. I had been told by several sources the opposite.

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#11 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 01:44 PM
 
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If a woman has had a lot of births she's probably more qualified to recommend a midwife, but I don't think it's any particular recommendation (or detraction*) to one's ability to be a midwife.

 

 

As for the "fictional interpretation" theory, I would assume that someone's views of birth would be shaped most strongly by the ones that affected them the most. So for a midwife who hadn't given birth that would be the first births they assisted at. Viewing from the outside, being careful to keep out of the way of the process, being careful to be unobtrusive, knowing absolutely that she doesn't know what is truly going on in the mother's head and being ready to change gears whenever an overt sign of the mother's feelings arises. Where as for a midwive who had given birth, their formative births would be their own. Being in the center of the action. Knowing 100% what is going on in the birthing mother's mind because it is her own. Knowing exactly how xyz feels because they've experienced xyz.

 

Honestly, I think it's probably incredibly hard for women who get into birthing because of their own births* to be any good as midwives.

 

 

(*the issue isn't having had the births, the issue is when the births are the primary motivating factor behind entering midwifery.)

 

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#12 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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Whether a midwife or doula has given birth to a child is really unimportant to me.  The three things I care about are 1. training, 2. experience and 3. birth outcomes.  Having biological children of ones own does not necessarily translate into better doula or midwifery care IMO.

 


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#13 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Such great input! I feel that people are capable of most anything that they want to do, if they want it enough. As long as mom and baby are getting the awesome MW care that they need, it doesn't sound like it matters a whole lot whether or not they have kids of their own.  

 

 

Quote:
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Hmmm..that's all really interesting. When I went through my doula training, I was literally the only woman out of a dozen who had actually given birth. Having given birth just 4 months before, I was very birth-obsessed at the time, and I actually remember being a bit bewildered as to how someone would ever think to CHOOSE this sort of work/training without having gone through a birth themselves. It totally baffled me because until I was pregnant, I literally had had zero exposure to birth. Most of these other women had also had no hands on experience assisting someone who was in labor...or watching a loved one birth or whatever...they had just stumbled on this life path that 'felt' right. 

 

However, to answer your question, I'm really kind of sorry to say, that I would probably never hire a doula or midwife that had not previously given birth. Mostly because I would be afraid that their interpretation of birth and what a birth should look like would be skewed in a way that might not answer to reality very well. Does that make sense? It really wouldn't have anything at all to do with their clinical skills...more about the emotional connectivity and my need to absolutely trust them with myself while in the midst of a birth. I just don't think I could fully connect with a doula or midwife who hadn't also experienced birth on a personal level. 

 

I think that Peggy probably got it right in her book...about the whole allowing women more control over their own births. You might not bring your own birth experiences to the table, but you might still bring a sort of fictional interpretation of birth...you know?

 

Idk. i hate how that all sounds a bit mean, but I think it's fairly truthful for me anyway.


Thanks for being honest, lemonapple, I respect your feelings. I think that trust is possibly one of the most important aspects of a relationship. If you are able to give 100% trust to a MW who has experienced birth for themselves, then you are honoring your intuition by knowing that. namaste.gif

 


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#14 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 06:04 PM
 
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Ina May Gaskin has had five children, including a premature baby that died. From The Farm website

 


Ina May agrees, of course. She had her first baby in hospital in the late 60s and says it was a terrible experience. "I was offended by what happened [she was given anaesthesia without her consent], then they expected me to pay for it! I was so pissed off."
 

 

and

 

in the early 70s she had two miscarriages and a premature baby who died. Much later, her eldest child, Sydney, died from a brain tumour just after her 20th birthday. Her surviving children are Eva Marie, 37, a teacher, Samuel, 35, a personal trainer, and Paul, 34, a web designer � all were delivered on the Farm. She has six grandchildren.

 

http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/press/detailPress.asp?PressID=34 

 

 

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so you would never go to Ina may Gaskin at the farm. or read her book or listen to her advice. she's one of the great midwives an has never given birth herself. 

 



 


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#15 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 06:21 PM
 
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Not a requirement for me. I dont ask my hairdresser if she does her own hair, I dont expect that a cancer doctor has had cancer, I dont assume every OB has children (think of all the males), I dont assume that a movie director has ever been in a movie, or that a chef has ever had a garden. Lots of people in this world are very educated about things and have a strong passion for them but are not directly connected to it in their own lives. I have a really good friend that is a doula/midwife and has never had children. She is just as capable as those who have had children, if not more so, because she probably assumes NOTHING.

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#16 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 06:34 PM
 
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It wouldn't be a factor for me at all.  It's more important that I am comfortable with you and your passion for what you do is sincere.


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#17 of 37 Old 05-26-2011, 06:14 PM
 
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Wow, I'm actually SO surprised that i'm the only one who seems to have reservations about hiring a midwife or doula who hadn't given birth herself. I wonder if it's just the folks who are responding to this post or if that's a real indication of general sentiment? 

 

TOTALLY not trying to start something here! lol, I'm really just surprised. If it's true that I'm in the minority, why do you think that is? I wonder if it might have something to do with my opinion on birth itself? I would hands down have a UC next birth unless there was an emergency situation...so maybe it's that I value the emotional support of both a doula and a midwife over the clinical experience? 

 

Really interesting thread though!

 

 


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#18 of 37 Old 05-26-2011, 07:23 PM
 
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For me, personal birth experience is not a deal breaker, but it can be a factor. I once interviewed a midwife and really felt like she could not relate to me, and I already felt that way before I found out she was not a mother. It's part of the overall equation. I would never suggest that women who haven't given birth shouldn't be doulas or midwives, but it is a fact that they lack that one aspect of experience.  It may not be the most important thing, but some people like that connection of knowing she has 'been there' and I don't think that is wrong either.

I haven't been at births with very many different midwives, but of the ones I have seen in action their status as mothers didn't affect how I felt about them.


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#19 of 37 Old 05-26-2011, 08:38 PM
 
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I didn't even ask when I interviewed midwives if they had children. I wanted to know how many births they had attended and how they turned out. I wouldn't rule out a midwife/ doula who hadn't been pregnant.

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#20 of 37 Old 05-27-2011, 04:42 AM
 
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Whether or not a midwife had given birth would not be a factor in whether or not i would hire her.  BUT i do think experience itself enriches any professional.  My cousin is a paediatrician.  She was a very good one.  She recently had a baby who has severe reflux and has been in and out of hospital for various tests (as he had FTT for a while too) and she spent several weeks as the mother of a sick baby - the mothers she has to encounter every day in her work.  She was a good paediatrician.  Now she is a GREAT one.  Because she REALLY understands.  She's not trying to understand anymore, she is genuinely able to empathise with some of what the parents of her patients are going through.  The experience has given her something that training and practice cannot.

 

So i think a childless woman who has never given birth can be an incredible midwife, but i think no matter how amazing she is she will be even better at it once she has experienced it herself.

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#21 of 37 Old 05-27-2011, 06:47 AM
 
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I do care that you've done it before... midwifed, that is!

 

I gave your question careful thought and I've concluded that I wouldn't consider experience giving birth as a factor in a midwife at all. The things I need from a midwife don't come from her having given birth. People are not more or less sympathetic for having done a thing. If I broke my arm, someone else who had done it before might just as well say "get over it, crybaby" as "awww, I broke my arm too and it hurt a lot, I understand." Besides which, while I want a certain nature in a midwife, I'm not hiring her to be sympathetic anyway - I mean, of course I don't want her yelling at me but it's not helpful for her to say "ohh, poor baby, contractions DO hurt."

 

Furthermore, I'd be open to a male midwife though admit I'd give it some extra consideration.

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#22 of 37 Old 05-27-2011, 07:29 AM
 
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I would certainly hire a doula/midwife who hafn't given birth herself. I do think that giving birth would bring valuable insight into her work, but it would not be a requirement by any means.

 

Aren't most obgyn's male anyway?  Funny how so many doulas and midwives have expressed concern, according to previous posts in this thread anyway, about not having had a baby but so many men who deliver babies do so with (often TOO much) authority. Just a thought!


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#23 of 37 Old 05-27-2011, 09:36 PM
 
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Several of her birth personal stories are in Spiritual Midwifery.


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#24 of 37 Old 05-27-2011, 11:34 PM
 
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I have thought about this a lot before. I have worked as a birth and postpartum doula for several years and apprenticed as a midwife and am now 32 weeks pregnant with my 1st. I would definitely encourage anyone passionate about birth and pregnancy to pursue their chosen career regardless of having kids of their own. It certainly seems easier to be on call for a month or more at a time pre-kids.

I have definitely questioned myself whether lacking the experience of having personally given birth has affected my ability to support women through labor as a doula in a truly empathic way. I don't know what labor contractions feel like personally. That has always seemed significant to me. Granted every labor is different. Perhaps someone who had orgasmic labors and births would have a hard time empathizing with someone having a long painful labor.  I think I have been very well equipped, during labor and postpartum to give clients my utter devotion and service which could change as my energy is redirected toward my own child.

During this pregnancy so far I have been blown away by how as much as I thought I knew from books and talking to women and online research this experience is totally changing my mind about so many things. For example, I had a lot of ideas about nutrition but after experiencing first hand nausea, heartburn, food aversions and my own intuition I've come to a really different place. Then again some women have none of those symptoms during pregnancy and may feel unsympathetic towards women who have a hard time eating well.

I guess I think there are trade offs. Advantages and disadvantages either way. 1st hand experience could lead to a deeper more realistic understanding and/or a more biased perspective. I'll let you know what I think after I give birth...

p.s. sorry if this is jumbled I am writing it in the middle of the night-can't sleep.

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#25 of 37 Old 05-27-2011, 11:41 PM
 
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I think for me it would depend on if I had a connection to the actual midwife. My midwife is a mother of six (including one pair of twins), and she was just so chill throughout my birthing experience, and lent me so much strength. I don't know if I would have trusted another midwife who was not a mother, but I guess I just don't know! Honestly, it would depend on the person and their attitude towards birth. If they had a lot of kids and were really trying to "manage" my birth, checking my cervix all the time, etc. I would not be happy. So yeah, I think it has more to do with attitude towards birth.


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#26 of 37 Old 05-27-2011, 11:56 PM
 
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I wouldn't.  

I know that the "right" thing to say is that it shouldn't matter, that the training and the experience and the passion, etc are all that should count.  BUT....I wouldn't be able to truly trust a woman who hadn't actually done it.   I  found personally, that the act of giving birth was so profound, so life changing and transformational, so completely not understandable until it was experienced, that I would want my midwife to have had that same experience, or I wouldn't be able to trust her to guide me through  it.  It may not be a rational feeling.  And no, i wouldn't expect my oncologist, for example, to have had cancer herself, but I guess I just think birth is different.  I don't think that ALLLLLLL of the book-learning in the world can be the same as actually having the experience of giving birth. 

I'm going to echo what boater said...I've had some of the same experiences she has had....I've been working with pregnant women for 10 years now, 4 of those before i had kids...and ...frankly, you can't truly *know* until you've been there.  my understanding of all of it changed so dramatically after i actually experienced pregnancy...experienced birth..experienced parenting a newborn, a baby, a toddler, 2 children, etc.  

 

So ...ya.  I wouldn't hire a doula or midwife, etc who hadn't given birth.  


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#27 of 37 Old 05-28-2011, 01:13 AM
 
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I don't think that having a baby is a mandatory thing. I think being sensitive is more important- and it seems that you are :)  Every woman is different, and the way she feels during pregnancy and delivery are totally different. You could have felt one way during those things and your client could be totally opposite. What is most important to me is your personality and your knowledge, not your own experiences during birth, no offense.

 

I had a Midwife that I wasn't familiar with attend my daughter's birth- and she was very abrasive at first. She "bet" me that I'd end up a C-Section, lol I didn't. After my delivery she sat with me and the new baby for hours talking about my pregnancy, my delivery and even my first birth. She was amazed because she had misjudged me, and had been wrong about my own abilities. I have over seperated hips during pregnancy and have to keep my legs parallel when pushing. Anyway- this midwife had never given birth. She was a very good midwife. 


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#28 of 37 Old 05-28-2011, 07:30 AM
 
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I can't say for certain if I would not ever hire a doula or midwife that hasn't birthed before because I think much depends on personality and experience.  BUT, I do know from my own experience with a midwife who has not birthed before that I had a very hard time accepting her feelings/opinion on certain things.  While I was fine getting advice on nutrition, anatomy and physiology of pregnancy and birth, etc. I was not comfortable taking her advice when it came to how to birth.  I felt really restricted by her protocols and feelings about the dangers of birth.  I know some of this had to do with the fact that she hadn't attended hundreds of  births yet, but I think a lot of it stemmed from not having been through the experience herself.   I found myself saying things like, "when you've experienced natural birth before, you trust your body to do it again."   It felt insulting to say this to her somehow, but I really felt like there was something she didn't quite get, a deep belief she didn't quite have in the power of birth.


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#29 of 37 Old 06-03-2011, 07:04 AM
 
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I am somewhere in the middle. I think the bigger factor for me is age/experience. I guess I like grandmotherly birth attendants and those tend to have had children!

When I had my first (hospital CNm practice) it was really important to me that my care providers had breastfed. Don't really know why.... Since I ended up going to a clc when I had trouble, lol.

I can say that I wouldn't hire a male birth attendant. I am just not comfortable with that, and if I am going to be uncomfortable I may as well be uncomfortable in the hospital with a male ob and not be paying oop.

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#30 of 37 Old 06-17-2011, 07:12 AM
 
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I had posted much earlier about being a midwife while never have given birth. Well, I'm fixing that. Just found out I was pregnant and even at only 5 weeks along my outlook is changing so much. Alot of it emotional because the timing is not at all optimal but also dealing with s/s and such. Every situation is a learning one in life...

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