I have been drawn to Midwifery since I can remember, as a young child I used to have dreams about attending birth. I had researched paths to becoming a MW in my early 20s (2001) and really felt like this was what I wanted to 'do', but I always felt like I needed to have given birth myself before I could be a MW myself. SO, I waited...I had my daughter almost 2 years ago and while I did birth her vaginally and on my own terms, it was a long and traumatic labor for me in many ways. I felt totally betrayed by the CNM who I hired to attend my daughter's birth in more ways than 1. Now a very clear path has presented itself to me for starting a program of Holistic Midwifery next year and I am feeling like I won't be an effective MW until I have a 'blissful' birthing experience. I sat with this idea of 'putting off' this pursuit until after I have possibly had another babe and potentially a less traumatic experience, but then it came to me that I even then I think I would be insecure and terrified (at times) of what a big responsibility this would be--to hold the space for a birthing woman and to help safely usher in new life to the Earth. It just seems really BIG, KWIM?!
So, in trying to determine the right path for myself. I was hoping that you would share what helped you make the decision to 'BE' a MW and were you scared at the prospect of this huge task or were you secure in your purpose from the beginning? I tend to be a very self assured person in many areas of life, but I find myself feeling quite the opposite when contemplating this decision. I know that self assurance and confidence or lack of it at the beginning of any new path do not necessarily determine future success, but it makes it harder to move forward with ease when you are feeling meek and inadequit.
SO, if you felt the 'calling' or the purpose but were anything less than confident about your abilities in this realm--How did you overcome those feelings and make the decision to pursue Midwifery and when did your feelings dissipate? OR should someone who is feeling this way take it as a sign that she isn't right for this task?
It is/was a long road for me to become a midwife- but what I wanted to say is to not be afraid of that fear. Birth is natural and normal and beautiful, but a healthy dose of fear will keep you respectful of the process. Assuming the role of midwife is a HUGE responsibility, and it is a good thing to be a little scared!
I would recommend seeking out doula or MW assistant training- attend a dozen births or so and then reevaluate.
Mom to two perfect kids surrogate to two sweetpotatos born 4.21.11
I love someone with ataxia telangiectasia http://www.atcp.org
Thanks homemademomma--this is exactly what I was wondering, but unsure of. I feel like my fear of birth isn't because I don't trust birth or women and babies, but because it is such a monumental responsibility to be the one who attends those births with the intent of holding a safe space for birthing. I definitely don't come to birth from a fear based place for other women (I am still working on that for myself, I think) and I really feel like part of the job of a homebirth MW is to be there to observe the process without interfering with it with an educated/experienced eye on the unfolding of the awesome event.
I've started a long journey, I'm starting nursing school this fall, to eventually become a homebirth-based CNM. My guess is it will be a decade before I'm a practicing midwife. Maybe not, maybe 6-7 years, but possibly a decade. Quite the long journey. But when I realized my calling to be a midwife, and decided/accepted it as my path, I felt peace, and clarity. I felt like a cloak that was mine was settling comfortably onto my shoulders (A very heavy cloak, that is both perfectly mine, and sometimes a burden, and sometimes a joy). I had had midwifery come up several times before in my life, but wasn't willing to accept the calling. Finally, I was ok with it, and it became who I am. When G-d calls, I do my best to answer "here I am", and offer myself up in service and love. Midwifery kept coming up over and over, like G-d kept at it until I was ready to accept my calling.
I get the same way about things. I too am waiting for the right time to come. The beauty of the path to midwifery is that you do get to attend many a birth as assistant or apprentice before you are the one with primary responsibility. You haven't been there for an ideal birth yet, but you'll have the chance to attend tens of ideal and less than ideal ones to gain experience in many a situation before you're even the one in the lead. Having more babies will give you more personal experience, but will really delay you in this and add to your responsibility at home. Grow your family if that's what's right for you but don't let the limits of your experience as mother hold you back as a prospective midwife. That said I was blessed to have my second child at home with a midwife who has a similar personality to me whose style I loved, so I can see myself being like her. But I think witnessing that not as the birthing mother would have been enough.
Now a very clear path has presented itself to me for starting a program of Holistic Midwifery next year and I am feeling like I won't be an effective MW until I have a 'blissful' birthing experience. I sat with this idea of 'putting off' this pursuit until after I have possibly had another babe and potentially a less traumatic experience, but then it came to me that I even then I think I would be insecure and terrified (at times) of what a big responsibility this would be--to hold the space for a birthing woman and to help safely usher in new life to the Earth. It just seems really BIG, KWIM?!
I would recommend working through your own birth so that you can put it aside and approach other women's births without bringing your own baggage to their labors. Process your trauma as much as you are able, learn from it what you can, and look at the experience for whatever positive/worthwhile/lessons you got out of it. Train as a doula and attend births in a variety of settings. Look for an opportunity to assist a HB midwife. Do what you can to start experiencing birth in all its infinite forms.
I don't think you need to have had a 'blissful' birth to be a good midwife. That's like saying you need to have won the Daytona 500 to be an auto mechanic. You need a lot of knowledge and skill, good clinical decision-making powers, a compassionate heart, gentle hands, and the courage to work with what is going on in the present moment. One of the midwives who I think is really great has never had a baby at all. So don't let lack of some idealized experience be a barrier if you want to pursue this path.
Remember too, that getting the education and training you need will give you the skills and confidence to attend births. You will get a lot of book-learning, observe, assist, and work under the tutelage of experienced midwives, do continuing ed. and keep updating your skills and knowledge base, and you will develop the tools you need to be confident instead of fearful. I think it is a healthy thing to acknowledge what a tremendous responsibility it is to be a midwife and to have a lot of respect for the power and unpredictability of birth. If you want to put it off because you want to devote yourself to small children without simultaneously pursuing an educational program, that's one thing, but I wouldn't pass up a great opportunity to learn because you are worried that you don't have the confidence right now. Baby steps, no pun intended. :)