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  Topic Review (Newest First)
04-05-2013 12:21 PM
eabbmom One of the midwives I hired had never given birth. I don't know if it was her experience or the fact she had never given birth that made her terrible. She ate stinky food in my house (never do that to a laboring woman), tool loud phone calls (broke my concentration), was more concerned about me leaking on the floor than helping with walking(she chased me wth a chux instead) and left me at the hospital in the middle of a contraction. I think if you haven't given birth it is really important to think about the state of mind laboring women are in. That being said, I think women that haven't given birth can do a great job.
04-05-2013 10:54 AM
Quinalla I would want to know if the doula had given birth or not and if she had given birth how that birth(s) went, but it would only be a small factor and I wouldn't turn away a doula because she had not given birth, I just want to know where people are coming from. I too would be more interested in her actual doula experience, to make sure she had plenty of experience and tools to be able to deal with a wide variety of situations.
04-03-2013 07:10 AM

Chuzzie- Congrads!!!


To the question. For me I want a doula that has given birth. MIDWIFE- I don't care 

04-02-2013 12:13 PM

Someone who hasn't given birth can absolutely be a great doula or midwife. I don't think it would affect my decision regarding which doula or midwife I chose, that will have much more to do with how well we click, how they make me feel, etc. In some ways I can see it being easier for someone who hasn't experienced childbirth to minimize the discomfort, pain, and so forth - like a male doctor who has never had menstrual cramps, poo-pooing about how they aren't so bad or its just psychological. But even people who have experienced childbirth can be dismissive assholes, so I do not consider the experience of childbirth to be the main determining factor for who makes a great birth attendant. Qualities I want  - someone who is supportive of me and my decisions, respectful, patient, warm, a kind touch, confident, knowledgeable, strong, empathetic, with a good sense of humor, fun, positive, and enthusiastic.... Perhaps experiencing birth themselves has helped them attain these qualities, but perhaps not. 

04-01-2013 06:48 PM

So lovely! I bet by now you have a.... 12-14 month old?! How exciting!


I am now 14 weeks pregnant stork-suprise.gif, and I can also say that my perspective is now rather different. I do not think that it would have/will change my ability to be an effective birth pro, but I guess there will be a new component of empathy through which I can relate to those moms more than ever before.


Even so, I think that passionate & dedicated people are capable of anything. Period.

07-29-2011 06:31 PM
Hesperia I'm a childless birth pro. (doula. Apprenticed as a MW for a time). I've been not hired for being childless. I've also been hired for being childless!

I came into the birth world pretty young (22 I was holding the birth space). Im struggling through infertility. I'm working forwards being a MW.

Will I be a better MW postpartum? Don't know. I can only be what I am now. Will I not get hired? Sure. It hurts sometimes but that is okay.

I don't plan on hiring a mw at all. As for doula, it is no concern to me if she has birthed herself or not. I don't need her story - I need her experience as a birth professional and to know her way around a camera. smile.gif

We are all coming from different places. Isnt it beautiful?
06-17-2011 10:26 AM

I was a midwife before I had children.  Has my perspective changed?  In spades.  But, I was still a good midwife back then.


I personally prefer child-less providers, because I feel like their attention is more focused on me during birth.  Selfish, I know, but it is what it is.  I feel like a mother might be distracted by the goings-on at home, and a child-less provider less likely to be so.  That sounds terrible to say out loud, but it really is how I feel.

06-17-2011 07:12 AM

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...

06-03-2011 07:04 AM
SuzyLee 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.
05-28-2011 07:30 AM

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.

05-28-2011 01:13 AM

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. 

05-27-2011 11:56 PM

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.  

05-27-2011 11:41 PM

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.

05-27-2011 11:34 PM

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.

05-27-2011 09:36 PM

Several of her birth personal stories are in Spiritual Midwifery.

05-27-2011 07:29 AM

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!

05-27-2011 06:47 AM

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.

05-27-2011 04:42 AM

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.

05-26-2011 08:38 PM
goinggreengirl 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.
05-26-2011 07:23 PM

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.

05-26-2011 06:14 PM

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 maybe it's that I value the emotional support of both a doula and a midwife over the clinical experience? 


Really interesting thread though!



05-25-2011 06:34 PM

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.

05-25-2011 06:21 PM
Adaline'sMama 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.
05-25-2011 06:04 PM

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."




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. 



Originally Posted by Shaina View Post

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. 



05-25-2011 05:43 PM

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.  



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 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


05-25-2011 03:10 PM
Lucy Alden

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.


05-25-2011 01:44 PM

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.)


05-25-2011 12:43 PM

I was mistaken, sorry. I had been told by several sources the opposite.

05-25-2011 04:37 AM

Ina May has had babies.

05-24-2011 10:39 PM

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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