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#1 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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in my quest for peace from a disappointing mw assisted hb with my son, i have felt drawn to uc. it's what i always wanted - it's what i dream about and i feel that it is safe.

the thing is...why did we have midwives hundreds (thousands) of years ago? why do dolphins, but not necessarily other mammals (not all primates nor marsupials have them)?

imo, the homebirth midwifery model of care that is popular now is a direct [I]reaction[I] to the medical model of care, therefore inspired by it and based on it. it utilizes machines a lot of times, measurement, synthetic medicine (which i realize is necessary sometimes). the thing is, the homebirth midwifery model of care that is around today did not directly descend from traditional midwifery. traditional midwifery had been all but wiped out by the witch hunt that was obstetrics in the early part of the last century. the model we now have came out of the 1960s rebellion against the dominant paradigm. i think this affects the treatment available and the climate around homebirth midwifery.

i think that the recent uc movement has developed more organically. women were giving birth alone before they had midwives. midwives developed organically as well, as women who had experienced their families and friends giving birth for as long as they had experienced anything began attending their families' and friends' births with their collective experience.

so i'm wondering why they exist. what were the core necessities did midwives fulfill?

blahblahblahrambleramble. useless theory asking for some reason and diverse opinions.
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#2 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 05:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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man my grammarical errors were awful. i just don't feel like fixing them. it's 5am on night shift with an active laborer. i'm wore out.
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#3 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 09:19 AM
 
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subbing because I'm interested as well.
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#4 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 09:25 AM
 
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I'd love to know more about this as well. I'm strongly considering UC for the next baby, whenever that maybe .

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Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#6 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 10:17 AM
 
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One thing would be to consider cultures that haven't or only recently have moved away from their traditional models of midwifery.

Since I don't actually know what those are and what they're like:

:
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#7 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 10:58 AM
 
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I think that there are still traditional type midwives out there, but they're fewer and far between. And homebirth midwifery is still needed. I think that there are a lot more people who have partners who are not much help during a birth and if they tried UC would not only be doing it all on their own, but having to take care of their partner's emotional state as well. They shouldn't have to be stuck with hospital birth just because their partner isn't quite there.
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#8 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 12:13 PM
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i think that midwives provide a variety of important functions.

first, it might be important to note that in many traditional cultures, UC did exist AND that for the most part, birthing was a "family affiar" wherein one's mother or grandmother would be present at the birth as a support.

midwives were for special needs women--if the family couldn't handle the situation at hand, then they would call the midwife to bring her special healing skills and knowledge to help with the birth.

since most women have "normal" births, midwives were really onlu called on for special situations.

second, in cultures where midwifery, rather than family or UC, is the process, traditionally these women were ritualists for women and children (spiritual leaders) in addition to being healers and helpers. so, at this level of care, the midwife was there to initiate mother and child in the process of birth--spiritually speaking--as well as to provide any health-care support that is necessary.

third, and again in cultures where midwifery was standard, midwives often held the function of being an emotional and physical support for the mother and baby and for the family as a whole. in addition to observing the birth to make sure that the mother/baby is safe, she would also take up the duties of the birthing woman, so that she didn't have to do that AND give birth.

in households where work was clearly defined and where there were few females capable of this work, midwives were important, temporary additions to the family to take up the mantle of the birthing mother while she was in labor and babymooning (for some cultures, up to 60 days after birth the mother was still not required to do normal work, only care for the baby, so the m idwife would be present--though not necessarily living with the family--daily to help with the woman's work).

i learned a lot of this from reading various sources, as well as talking with people about traditional cultures (if htey come from a traditional culture) and i also found the book "birth among primitive peoples" to be interestng.

one of my clients/friends is a direct-entry (lay) midwife, who taught midwifery skills to rural women in israel and palestine. she noted that the majority of births werre simply family affairs or UCs--where women would retreat from the community by themselves (with people bringing food, etc) or with other women of the community, none with "midwifery training.' (that is, n o "women healers" or "wise women"). most births were fine, but due to the stresses of the environment of israel/palestine, women had little access to hospitals when needed, or to be able to call a midwife from a great or any distance when needed, and of course the women giving birth in stressful situations themselves made birth more difficult--so she taught basic emergency care to average, everyday women to share with each other in these difficult times.

i think that midwives have great purpose, and i value that purpose--whether they are professional-healer midwives, or spiritual midwives, or emotional midwives, or physical support midwives, or, as some people see it, just being a "family midwife."

but, there is also room for UC, and room for family birth, and room for all sorts of variety.
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#9 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 12:45 PM
 
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i think that midwives have great purpose, and i value that purpose--whether they are professional-healer midwives, or spiritual midwives, or emotional midwives, or physical support midwives, or, as some people see it, just being a "family midwife.
In some cultures mothers are not to even set foot on the ground, just to care for herself & baby. Traditionally speaking if one looks at the work of doulas, it was the work of midwives in more ancient times.

One thing that has changed all of this is insurances. (something to consider also when trying to understand the change in atmosphere)

Where I live, when I moved here 14 yrs ago - there were MANY midwives, but the OB offices dropped them all Now there are only 2 (lay) midwives left and even they have become more hands-on due to malpractice insurance.
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#10 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 01:30 PM
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yup, the culture here is different than what existed in another time or exists in another place.

here, we have the western model--which includes the legal situation, the political situation, and the medical perspective. so, midwives follow that process as well.

many find a way to "bridge the gap" between the new and the old, and some do not. and some do the western work, while the doula does the support work.
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#11 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 01:50 PM
 
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I love this discussion! Keep going...

Missionary, birth-worker, midwifery student
Mama to love.gif DD (9yr), DS luxlove.gif (3yr), & 2twins.gif UC twin DDs (5yr)

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#12 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 01:57 PM
 
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I think that there are still traditional type midwives out there, but they're fewer and far between. And homebirth midwifery is still needed. I think that there are a lot more people who have partners who are not much help during a birth and if they tried UC would not only be doing it all on their own, but having to take care of their partner's emotional state as well. They shouldn't have to be stuck with hospital birth just because their partner isn't quite there.
Which brings up all sorts of interesting questions about the partner's role(s) in birth.

I suspect that having the partner involved in the birth is a fairly recent concept and that it ties in with changes in relationships--moving away from family sooner, etc.
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#13 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 02:31 PM
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yeah, it looks like that in traditional cultures, this whole birth thing was a woman's thing--done with only women around--so the partner being there does seem to be very new.

as an initiatory rite, this makes sense. it's a sequestered, sex-based (specific) spiritual process. in many traditional cultures, there are things that only men do (spiritual/religious wise), and things that only women do.

so, having a partner there for support may not be a traditional part of the process, and therefore perhaps men are havin to learn something new, adapt to a new paradigm very quickly.

just a thought anyway.
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#14 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 02:35 PM
 
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Which brings up all sorts of interesting questions about the partner's role(s) in birth.

I suspect that having the partner involved in the birth is a fairly recent concept and that it ties in with changes in relationships--moving away from family sooner, etc.
Absolutely a partner's involvement is a recent concept. Birthing has always been women's work. Men only started becoming part of the equation when birth moved into the hospitals. Since NO ONE was allowed to be with the laboring woman in birth, it became a serious issue for women. And when they started lobbying for a birth attendant in labor, of course you would want to start with next-of-kin. So they started getting husbands in on it.

As far as why were midwives necessary, everyone else said it pretty well. Another thing to remember: midwives were NEVER formally "trained" in the art of childbirth. Midwives were usually just some other woman who had had babies before. As others pointed out, her main functions were to be for emotional support and to manage the household while mother was out of commission.

Midwives only started to receive formal training once doctors began taking over labor and delivery. They were trying to stay "competitive" as well as "prove" that they were just as "qualified" as doctors to attend birth.

Unfortunately, it's a no-win situation for modern midwives. The medical community considers them "lesser-trained" and will never stop trying to make them illegal based on that, and the public, so indoctrinated to the medical model of childbirth, won't accept any less than a "professionally trained" birth attendant.

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#15 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 03:02 PM
 
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I think midwives are keepers of knowledge there to support women in birth and to give additional assistance should it be needed.

Unassisted birth is for me, birthing alone is not. I want someone with knowledge and an additional set of supportive hands there for me if I need it. I don't want someone directing my labor or messing with me. I do wnat someone who knows which herbs and homeopathic therapies work for bleeding, or labor augmentation, or any number of things. I want to be in my head and not have to constantly monitor myself, wondering what's going on and if its healthy. I just want to ride the waves of labor and have someone else there to help if I need it.

If I did it alone I think I'd over think it. Whether this knowledgable person is a mother, sister, or midwife depends on our situation. For me and most women in the US we don't have knowledable mothers and sisters to attend our births, many times they aren't even supportive.

While some may not consider my birth unassisted it was at least undirected. It worked well for me and its what I'm planning again this time.

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unhindered is another good word for it.

in my reading about midwifery in traditional cultures, women had unhindered births. midwives stepped in to take over household duties, to help out with the birth only when needed (physically--at this point doing 'healer' work), and to provide emotional and spiritual support--not guidance really.

so, it hink that the unhindered model of birth can definitely flow through assisted and unassisted births of all sorts.
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#17 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 03:38 PM
 
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I have a friend who refers to "tea party" midwives or tea party births. When you have a real old-fashioned traditional midwife, she'll come to your house and sit at your kitchen table and drink tea until and if some other need for her arises, rather than hovering over you and managing your birth. But most of the time, it's just a tea party.
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I think midwives are keepers of knowledge there to support women in birth and to give additional assistance should it be needed.

Unassisted birth is for me, birthing alone is not. I want someone with knowledge and an additional set of supportive hands there for me if I need it. I don't want someone directing my labor or messing with me. I do wnat someone who knows which herbs and homeopathic therapies work for bleeding, or labor augmentation, or any number of things. I want to be in my head and not have to constantly monitor myself, wondering what's going on and if its healthy. I just want to ride the waves of labor and have someone else there to help if I need it.

If I did it alone I think I'd over think it. Whether this knowledgable person is a mother, sister, or midwife depends on our situation. For me and most women in the US we don't have knowledable mothers and sisters to attend our births, many times they aren't even supportive.

While some may not consider my birth unassisted it was at least undirected. It worked well for me and its what I'm planning again this time.
:

I hired my MW to help me through this journey, not to try and take my place in it. And she's respectful of her 'place' as my guide and helper. There is no power struggle over who's in charge. When she sees an issue that might hinder a healthy birth she uses her knowledge to help me make changes that resolve the problem. Her care is mixed with medical things, yes, but it's about as far from the medical model as you can get. It's holistic, it's personal, it's a friendship.
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#19 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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I think we generalize about "traditional midwives" and "the way it used to be" too much. Women have been helping women give birth for millenia, all over the globe, sometimes in ways we today would call unassisted births, sometimes in what we would recognize as a midwifery capacity. There have been so many cultures in the time women have been helping women birth that I think pretty much every permutation has been tried, from totally solitary birth to highly interventive assistence (and I don't mean just in "modern", "nontraditional" cultures). Some "traditional" cultures did have trained, professional midwives. Some "traditional" cultures were HIGHLY interventive, inflicting horrors we would expect only from the worst OBs today.

Anyway. In my view, the ideal midwife is there, on call, either in the house or not, in case of the rare instances women need help in or after labor. Unhindered birth is my ideal, and I believe the physiological default, with some women wanting more or less emotional support. Whether it occurs with a midwife present or not is a matter of a woman's tastes, and what services are available in her area and life.
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I think men started attending births not when it moved to the hospital, but when men's role in the family changed and they were expected to be more involved with their babies. I think that was a good thing! My partner would be devastated to miss out on his baby's birth and first moments on earth.

I think midwives are good for lots of things but I don't think it's my place to answer. I UC'd but if I had had more options, I might not have.
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#21 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 08:53 PM
 
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Anyway. In my view, the ideal midwife is there, on call, either in the house or not, in case of the rare instances women need help in or after labor. Unhindered birth is my ideal, and I believe the physiological default, with some women wanting more or less emotional support.

Well worded. This is exactly what I feel is the most appropriate form of birth support, in a culture where birth is thought of as a normal life process. I'm glad that I've found that others have this view and that I've been able to learn from them. If I had just thought about it honestly, before my child was born, I think I would have come to this realization. Stupid me, for not being mindful in that process. But through that experience, I've started along to path to truly trusting birth, without feeling stuck to the cultural views that are so pervasive.

I'm interested in learning more about the different types of midwives across cultures in the past. Most of what I know about ancient or traditional midwives are what I read in popular fiction, mostly historical fiction based in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and Elizabethian England. From what I've read, many midwives were feared and marginalized even in those cultures and you didn't ever want to have to call her, because she was pretty much thought of as the town witch. But even the lady of the manor would call if a midwife was needed during a birth. (much like I see the UCers and homebirthers think of OBs when they become necessary in some situations).

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#22 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 09:14 PM
 
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I think regarding the "few and far between" thing...I think a lot of mws are the way they are as mentioned: a result of the medical community, licensing and malpractice etc. BUT I do know that there are some mws who are "medical" with some clients and not with others. If they have a momma who they know is educated in birth in a UC kind of way and they can trust her not to "turn" on them and sue, they are willing to be as hands off as that momma wants. But they can't ensure the future of their practice if they are entirely hands off with every mom. So two moms may have very different experiences with the same mw.

Once women lost their "place" in society as magical creatures who could bring forth life at will and were separated from society when pg because it was caused by a carnal sin.... the pendulum swung and fear began. Women were scared at having to birth alone whether they wanted to or not and the trickle down effect is where we live now. The medical society thinks they are needed bc women have been taught from an early age that they need doctors to birth and that doctors will help them/save them from the "horrors" of childbirth. Only a few women who are strong enough to see through that and reach their instincts that birth is natural can "go against the flow" and birth UC or even HB with a mw who is not a med-wife.

Luckily we are perpetuating non-fear in childbirth to our children and hopefully that will grow to reach more people in the future or maybe even have one of them become a professional who can impact the way our country births in general.

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#23 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 09:52 PM
 
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What are they for? Well, I really wish I knew. In my direct experience...not much. Or rather, quite a bit, but nothing I actually hired them for.

I think of my MIL, who I thought was against homebirth, but finally we figured out that she just did not know what a midwife was. We thought that was odd, but it turns out that her birth with her first child was unattended, meaning, there were no paid attendants. Just caring women who had birthed before, being around her and nearby. She had a 6 day labor, and despite being probably nutritionally unsound (grew up in occupied Korea), she birthed a 10 pound kiddo. I don't know what the fellow female villagers did for her, and won't know until I get pregnant again and feel like speaking to her (she's mean to me), but all she knew was the normal way she had her first, and using the family practitioner for her second and third babies once she had moved to America. She didn't know the in between (or in my case, the in-your-home conduit to the OB) of midwifery.

So I now see things from her eyes...if you feel fine (and my own intuition always knew the truth, though no one believed me), stay around your friends and family (though of course in my own life, none of my friends or family know anything about normal birth), and if you need some help go find a doctor*.

*I live across the street from an LM's office, and even though she's right there and I liked her when I met her in '04, I have a feeling she wouldn't come over to assist me if I called out of the blue in active labor, and I don't know if there are any who would...whereas hospital personnel have to help.
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#24 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 09:55 PM
 
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I'm interested in learning more about the different types of midwives across cultures in the past. Most of what I know about ancient or traditional midwives are what I read in popular fiction, mostly historical fiction based in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and Elizabethian England.
I would be curious to read what you've read. One of my favorites is the Red Tent, which is religiously based.
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#25 of 49 Old 04-07-2008, 10:07 PM
 
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I'm reading "The Red Tent" right now! But isn't that just fiction? Is it based on actual fact (re: midwifery)?

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: so I can come back and read later.
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I'm reading "The Red Tent" right now! But isn't that just fiction? Is it based on actual fact (re: midwifery)?
The Red Tent is "based" on the Bible. However it is nearly all fiction (with only minimal similarities to Bible facts), though perhaps loosely based on midwifery of the historical culture of the time.

Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#28 of 49 Old 04-08-2008, 04:59 AM
 
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There are a few books out there based on midwives' journals from way back when. One title I can think of is "The King's Midwife," and there are a few others as well.

We had a midwife at our last birth, but she was very hands off and very much a traditional midwife. No doppler, no heart tones. She only helped hubby set up my birthing area, and during the actual birth only murmured a few words of encouragement now and then. I was the one who supported my baby's head as it was born. My hubby felt much better having her there, but she really treated it as an honor to be invited... she did not run the show.

I can certainly see the appeal in having an unassisted... I had originally planned my last birth to be that way. I did have an unassisted miscarriage at 20 weeks. Seeing I could handle that all by myself was amazing, even with the circumstances being what they were.
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#29 of 49 Old 04-08-2008, 09:42 AM
 
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I'm reading "The Red Tent" right now! But isn't that just fiction? Is it based on actual fact (re: midwifery)?
Yes, complete fiction. Just based on historical religious facts
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Originally Posted by paquerette View Post
I think that there are still traditional type midwives out there, but they're fewer and far between. And homebirth midwifery is still needed. I think that there are a lot more people who have partners who are not much help during a birth and if they tried UC would not only be doing it all on their own, but having to take care of their partner's emotional state as well. They shouldn't have to be stuck with hospital birth just because their partner isn't quite there.
IA100%. I know my SO was unsupportive of me wanting a homebirth. He really wouldn't support a UC. I figured a homebirth would be easier with a midwife who might be able to soothe and comfort him and tell him everything would be safe...and to drive him to the doctor if he passes out. That's right, drive him to the doctor. I was gonna be pushing out a 7+lb, and he was worried about passing out from seeing blood (that's his reasoning for wanting to go to the hospital).

I'm sorry that turned into a rant.



edited for typos
honeybunch2k8 is offline  
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