OK- here I am at another great crossroads in my life. With the birth of my second daughter approaching, and my husband finally wrapping up his collegiate career, it is time for me to get serious about what the heck I want to be when I grow up. I am torn between becoming a Doula or a Midwife. I am weighing the options, and just can't seem to make a decision. My question is- to anyone who has persued midwifery as a career- Do you still have time in life to be the kind of mom who can do the bake sales, and the soccer matches and the field trips and all that fun stuff? I don't really want to work full time. Not while the kids are young. But, I wonder if I choose to become a Doula, will I always wish I had persued midwifery instead? Midwives are so revered, almost like rockstars (at least they are to me!).
Take this with a grain of salt, as I'm not a midwife. I'm a nurse who worked in a hospital with midwives (and was under their care for my firstborn).
The midwives I worked with worked very, very hard. It was a busy hospital-based practice and they cared for the vast majority of uncomplicated pregnancies/births. They worked as hard as the OBs did and took the same schedules/call. Imagine your "typical physician" schedule (on call 24h, then seeing patients in the office all day, etc.) -- they did that, too.
I don't know what type of midwifery you're looking at, but I imagine the schedule and the busyness of practice varies by where you live and what type of midwifery you want to do (CNM in a hospital...CM doing hbs...etc.) - private practice vs. group practice , etc.
There is a birth professionals' section here on MDC: http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/list/228/birth-professionals -- they would probably be of more help than me. I just saw it was your first post and hope this was even a little helpful....welcome to MDC! :)
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond! I'm new to the website, and still trying to navigate my way around. I still haven't gotten over the loss of Mothering, the magazine. But,that is pretty much what I had gathered the life of a midwife to be like, though, I know most of them do have families of their own, so, it must be possible to do it all. I guess I was hoping someone would jump in and say- "I'm a midwife, and I have lots of time to spend with my family!". It would make more sense for me to persue the Doula path, given my background in massage therapy, anyways.
Not a midwife or doula here, but I can share this tidbit with you: I had two midwives who attended my daughter's birth. When it was time to have my second, I learned that one of the midwives was no longer with the practice - and she had founded the practice. She had turned to teaching as the unpredictability of the midwifing schedule was not allowing her to parent in the way she wanted. Conversely, my doula, who I also used for post partum care, liked the flexibility she had with her post partum work schedule, as it allowed her to drop off and pick up her kids from school.
Mama to add 10/05; ds 3/09, and two angels
I was a student midwife and doula. I apprenticed for about a year and a half and determined that I could not be a midwife, especially a student midwife tied to the senior's schedule, and be the mother that I wanted to be. If I pursue it again in the future, I will wait until my kids are grown. It is an intense life, and I know a lot of midwives who work while raising a family bemoan the choices that have to made to accommodate their practices. It is hard to be patient, but my kids come first.
Mom to eight!! Our twin girls arrived 3-3-2011.
Thank you all! It seems rather obvious now- if being the carpooly mom is of the utmost importance, then I would be much better suited to live the life of a Doula. Midwives will always be like rockstars to me- and rightfully so, from the sounds of it!!!
I'm a RN in a birth center & I'm always in awe of how many hours the CNMs put in.. they are busy, busy, busy. At our birth center, they each have one day off per week. They all *love* what they do & they're all fantastic at it, so of course that helps, but it really was eye-opening for me.
I was planning to start my master's next year for midwifery, but I have since decided to put that on hold... my children are 3, 6, and 9. They're still very young.. I homeschool and absolutely treasure my time at home with them. I like my set number of hours and I love that as a nurse I can work a few 12-hr shifts and spend the rest of my time at home. So I'm going to continue to work as a RN for now-- I love working with expectant & new moms; the post-partum teaching is a lot of fun, too :)
Good luck finding your path!
~e, wife to my sweet T , mama to my turtleman (12) , sunshine (9 ), and monkey (6)
I became certified as a doula and am now applying to midwifery school. With the huge amount of time I was putting in as a doula, lots of hours and only making $600/birth, and really wanting to be a midwife one day, dh and I decided that I should just go for it and pursue midwifery.
The one nice thing is that we homeschool, so I manage to get time with the kids that way. If they were in school, there would be some days that I didn't see them at all. For example, if I get called away to a birth at 7pm and get home the next morning at 10:30am, then I get to see the kids for the whole day once I'm home, instead of them being in school all until 4 o'clock. Or if I end up at a birth that takes all weekend, I still get to see them during the week.
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds 11yo dd 9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds
I was a doula when my middle child was 1 until she was 3. I did love it, but the on-call schedule was very difficult. I had to be available 24/7 for two weeks on either side of the EDD. It made it impossible to plan family things bcs I never knew when I was going to be called away. So as much as I loved it, it was not a good fit me, personally. As a midwife I imagine you'd have a call rotation, which might help make it a little more predictable, but that probably varies widely from practice to practice.
I've heard this advice here and elsewhere and it really resonated w/me: women will be having babies forever; children grow up quickly.
My mom waited to be a CNM until we were in high school/college (she was an RN-MSN for decades prior), and even working in a big practice with several other MW's, she works way more than 40 hrs a week, and is on call a lot. As a CPM or other homebirth midwife, you will likely be on call pretty much every hour of your life. Even if you practice with a partner, most wise MW's attend births in two's - but then to make a semi-decent income (which is hard to do the first several yrs, anyway), you have to keep a busy practice.. So a lot of hours put in. Then you have to find time to catch up on sleep after a 20 hour birth - if there are kids at home, it will be hard on everyone.
Some MW's manage it all well, but IMO the majority will struggle in various ways and their families have to make sacrifices along the way. At the very least, I'd wait to apprentice when all the kids are in upper elementary, but that's just me.
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What about sleep?
I am an RN that worked in a birth center. I planned to be a midwife. Until I had to take call. There were three nurses to cover all births. That meant I was on call 10 days a month. (Plus I was working in the NICU 24 hours a week and having to take call for that.) I didn't like the constant threat of maybe I would work and maybe I wouldn't. It was really eye opening for me as I'd planned for years to be a midwife. (I'd even worked in a hospital based birth center with midwives on staff, but they had more midwives and they each took a week of nights so didn't have 24 to 36 hour shifts. It was a much saner life.)
At that stage of my life, I realized I could not take the 24 straight hours of call. Now I could. Except I have two young kids so wouldn't even consider being a midwife--or a labor doula.
I gave birth at the birth center where I worked. It has become much busier over the years. The midwives now are so overworked and burned out. When I was going there all of them had grown children. I just don't think a busy center like that would be conducive to having children.
Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.