What is a "Real" Midwife?
Guest Post by Lynn Baptisti Richards
(Lynn Baptisti Richards, BS, Ed, LM, is a performing and visual artist, a midwife and a writer.)
I thought I was the only one (or nearly the only one) who feels that midwives have been sold a load of crap. The desperate need for us to be legally safe from prosecution produced a co-option of midwifery into the medical system—the very thing we so despised. We are supposed to be the alternative to medicine, not mini-doctors. The rules and regulations allow the State to make decisions that the parents and the loving attendants (now called midwives) should be making. Women have lost their power again, and they think they have gained it! What a farce!
I bet you didn't know that in order for the licensed midwives in the State of Arizona to get better rules and regulations, they supported the criminalization of the practice of unlicensed midwives! And we call one another "sisters"?
I had practiced illegally in NY for more than 15 years, primarily attending VBACs, breeches, and twins—the women who, without me, would have been "sectioned." I was the alternative! I told every woman, "All of the decisions are yours, unless we have an emergency. Then, all of the decisions are mine!" And so, there was "true informed consent." My classes, which went to the core of the matter of birth, death and life, were the most important thing I ever did. Women discovered themselves, in all aspects of their lives. When they shouted, "I did it... I did it... I did it!" they had not only given birth to their babies, they had given birth to themselves. What we have now is nothing like a woman-empowered birth!
When I arrived in Arizona, I got a license and kept a double set of records, "the birth that actually happened" and "the birth which the State wished had happened." But the worst was that it was the other midwives who reported me to the State for doing VBACs! That was it for me! I was done.
The midwives of today see themselves as professionals. I wonder how many of them would have been midwives in the climate of the ‘70s and ‘80s. We were revolutionary outcasts, pushing up against the very system the midwives have now joined.
Of course, I do not ever want to see a midwife arrested for her practice, but I believe that to be a "real" midwife, you have to be willing and ready to put everything, who you really are, on the line, for the sake of the empowerment of the woman!
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