Becoming a midwife without having a vaginal birth. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 08-02-2011, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Does it matter? I've wanted to be a midwife for 9 years now. I'm entering nursing school this fall, intending to become a CNM. The problem is, I've never had a vaginal birth. Both my babies came breech. DD was a UBAC attempt, ending in a CS under general because she came footling and precipitously. It's only been 3 months and it's still difficult for me to watch movies like The Business of Being Born and natural birth videos. I still passionately support natural birth and want better for women than the current system.


Do you know any midwives who have never had any vaginal births? Did it make a difference? I know that there are great male OBs out there, so it can be overcome, but it still worries me.

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#2 of 10 Old 08-02-2011, 01:13 PM
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You had a perfectly good reason to have c-sections. When it comes down to it, you tried but the baby was not in the right position. Even if a midwife cared for you, they would refer out if the felt unsafe delivering a breech baby. I feel that most of your patients would understand.

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#3 of 10 Old 08-02-2011, 01:33 PM
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My midwife with my ds hadn't had a vaginal birth at the time, but had had an emergency (very necessary) cesarean. (she did vbac about a year ago though, yay!) and she was EXCELLENT. I think most of her career was before she had any kids, period. She's one of the best in the area, highly recommended, lots of experience. If you poked your head in the tribal area where she lives, you'd see nothing but glowing reviews. She's very popular for vbacs especially! Lots of mamas in ICAN use her. She's simply an excellent midwife and not having had a vaginal birth in no way lessened the quality of care. If midwifery is your calling, go for it. You don't need to have birthed vaginally to be an amazing midwife!

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#4 of 10 Old 08-02-2011, 03:50 PM
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While I agree that your c-sections were indicated, I don't even see how that matters.  I absolutely don't think that having given birth--vaginally or otherwise--is a prerequisite for becoming a midwife, or for being a really great one.  I also don't think that oncologists need to have survived cancer in order to be good at what they do.

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#5 of 10 Old 08-03-2011, 06:13 AM
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What really matters is your desire to serve women and their families. I think your experience can only help you in being a more compassionate midwife to those women whose births don't go exactly as planned.  When I was a student midwife I was going through infertility (for 3 yrs).  We had a client who was describing her previous birth with an unwanted episiotomy, and she said " you should have to give birth to be a midwife, no offense Nicole." It was like a knife to my heart, but what I learned from it was that women who are hurt during their most vulnerable times will carry that hurt with them and spread it to others.  It fueled my desire to become a midwife.  So there may be some that will say it matters, but you have to look at where that opinion is coming from.

Good luck with your studies!

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#6 of 10 Old 08-03-2011, 10:38 AM
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Well, let me throw this one back at you?  :)  How do you think your birthing experiences will impact your birth work as a midwife?  You said you can not watch BOBB or birth videos.  Why not?  How will those strong feelings impact your work with women in a hard, long labor, or a woman with a breech baby still at 36 weeks?  Will you bring confidence in the natural way the body works?


In theory I believe what others have said about vaginal birth not being necessary for birth work.  But I would also advise to proceed cautiously and examine your own feelings.  Also maybe get involved with homebirths in your training toward a CNM.  Because that process at home really is different than one in a hospital and can be a great reminder about how many things work in minimally disturbed labors.


If you love your work and are thoughtful with it then you will be awesome!

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#7 of 10 Old 08-03-2011, 11:44 AM
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I would not be one bit worried about this. Being a good midwife is a matter of training and philosophy. Your personal birth experience(s) don't reflect on your ability to be a skilled midwife. Two of the midwives who I have the privilege to work with as a doula have never had a baby, but they are both phenomenal care providers. Saying you can't be a good midwife because you haven't had a vaginal birth is like saying somebody can't be a good auto mechanic just because they ride a motorcycle instead of driving a car. They have gone down the same highway, just a different mode of transportation.


If you feel that you will only ever be able to see other births through the lens of your own birth experience, I would not recommend becoming a midwife at all. Your second birth is still pretty fresh and raw (just three months ago), so give yourself time to process, figure out what you can learn from with that birth, and carry the positive value forward into your work, leaving the disappointment, sadness, fear, etc. as your own private bundle to manage. Trust that your compassion and commitment to providing quality care will carry the day.

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#8 of 10 Old 08-03-2011, 03:03 PM
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One of my midwives was not yet a mom. She was wonderful. That said, I agree with pp that it would be advisable to process and heal from your birth trauma. Bringing fear into the birth space is not ok. As midwives, we need to trust that birth is safe most of the time. We need to be able to communicate that confidence to birthing mothers. We need to make sure we do not carry our "birth baggage" to another woman's birth.

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#9 of 10 Old 08-05-2011, 10:13 AM
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I know some amazing midwives who have not had children or who have only had fairly traumatic births or medicated births or c-sections or whatever. You can still become a wonderful midwife without having had a vaginal birth. I have hired a midwife for my own pregnancy who has never given birth. She is amazing. I have attended other births with her before and I love the way she practices and the energy she brings into a space.


I agree with other posters about working through some of your very raw feelings. I had to do the same after my last birth, which was planned to be a homebirth and I ended up in the hospital instead. I remember feeling really raw.... to the point where I was a little bitter when other people had the births that *I* had been planning (I was a new midwifery student at the time and not yet attending births in that capacity). It took a little time, but I really feel absolutely nothing like that anymore. Instead, I see my experience as something positive. Now, when I have a client who needs to tranfer care or transport, I really can understand those emotions that can come with not getting the birth in the way it was planned. There is not one oz of my being that becomes jealous or bitter about others and their experiences as I really understand that my journey with my daughter was the way it was meant to be for us. You will be working with women who get fantastically beautiful vaginal births and with women who plan that sort of birth and require c-sections under general. You will also work with women who go through miscarriage and still births and infertility. You do not need to experience every possible scenario to be good at helping women. Just work through your feelings and start your studies and know that you will be a wonderful help to just the right women who walk through their journey under your care.

Erika, mama to three beautiful kids (plus one gestating), and wife to one fantastic man.

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#10 of 10 Old 08-18-2011, 11:18 PM
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Neither of my two midwives so far have had a vaginal birth and they were both absolutely wonderful. Personally I don't think giving birth vaginally made me a better midwife. . . although I do feel (for me personally) that experiencing postpartum made me waaaay more humble and compassionate about those first 6 weeks!

finally midwife mama to my home-birthed nurslings: Noemi Sakura 16.10.07 & Seder Pádraig 13.7.09 and partner to their lovely daddy
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