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Midwives--need career advice!

439 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Maggi315
I tried to restart the midwife mamas thread in finding your tribe, but didn't get to many responses (maybe my post is just to long and tangled...). Anyway, I still need some career advice, so I've moved this over here. Hope some of you experienced midwife/mamas can help me out!

I am really struggling with the whole motherhood/midwifery balance.

Here's my story. I graduated from midwifery school 2 days before my first son was born. When he was a year old I took a hospital midwifery job that was .5 FTE's. I worked 1 office day and 1 24 hour call a week, and 1 weekend a month.

The hours were good, but unpredictable (so I never worked the same days each week) which meant that I had a babysitter rather than putting him in daycare (where I would have had to pay for 5 days a week because at the day cares around here, you have to commit to the same days every week).

The hospital and office were also both an hour from my home. Maybe that would have been manageable, but it was a really busy, really medical practice where I would regularly see 20-30 patients a day in the office. Plus, there were some changes coming up in the practice structure that were going to require that the midwives work more hours, and see patients more quickly. Definately not my cup of tea. Plus I had basically no orientation and during the course of the year that I worked there, got more and more nervous that I was doing things wrong and not getting any feedback. Not a good match for me.

I stuck it out for a year and left in December to start with a homebirth practice in the same area, with the midwives who delivered my son. I am on call for births (as an RN, birth assistant) 3 days a week and in the office one of those days. I am in the process of getting my NP license and for now am seeing patients and having one of the other midwives co-sign my charts. My son is in day care for the 3 days that I am at work, which he loves.

I'm having some problems specifically with my job (more on this below), but the bigger problem is that I'm not making enough money to cover my share of the household expenses. I knew that working in a home birth practice would be less money (obviously) but the office hours are shorter than I had expected (based on the midwives descriptions) and they haven't been calling me for births (they have a CPM student who has been with them for 2 years who can be a free birth assistant...)

Anyway, I'm having another baby in September, so I plan to stay until then. But afterwards, I'm not sure what to do. There is a birth center down the road that is looking for a midwife, and it would pay about $56,000 (fat cash!!!) and it's a great place. But the hours would be crazy, and the midwife I'd be replacing is leaving in November, so my baby would only be 8 weeks old. I can't even imagine what I would do for childcare in that situation.

It feels like such a catch-22. To do home births you need to be on call alot, so you have to have flexible childcare (which seems to mean expensive). But you don't make any money. If I searched out a midwifery job that paid better, I feel like I'd be sacrificing my family for that. Then I think about trying to really reduce our expenses--sell our house, really cut back in terms of day to day spending and trying to find a homebirth practice closer to home that would be a better match for me, and where I could maybe take my baby. But I'm not sure that would work either. And it certainly wouldn't work for more than 6-8 months...

One of my good midwife friends just had her first baby last week. She and her partner had offered me a job with them when they first found out she was pregnant. I turned it down in favor of working with these other midwives--for a lot of reasons, but mainly due to relationship issues with me an her, and because I really revered the midwives who had delivered my son and wanted to learn from them. But that practice is not seeming to be all I thought it was--one of the midwives is really hard to work with and I'm feeling like I might have made a big mistake. Oy!

Sorry this is so long and self-absorbed. I just really can't figure out what to do with myself. I'm interested to hear how other midwives have balanced having the kind of practice that you want with family and financial issues.

Thanks. Jessi
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Wow, sounds like you have alot on your plate. I wish I had some great advice, but really balancing your family/work seems to be a neverending endeavor. For me, personally, I have chosen to work as a homebirth midwife and deal with the crazy hours and for right now, the lower pay. We have structured our lives to live on one income, sometimes not easily. I also took a part time job teaching nursing students at the local college.

I have not been doing much midwifery/lactation work since my baby was born 7 months ago. I think it is extremely difficult to keep up that pace and have a little one. Something has to give and unfortunately, I have seen that be the family/children way too often. So I have passed up some great opportunities both career-wise and money wise so that when I am looking back on my life, I can honestly say that family has come first.

Good luck whatever you decide to do. I really don't know if there is a right or wrong answer, what is your heart/gut trying to tell you? Maybe you need to put off making any decision right now. Then the right decision will be weeded out for you.
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