Things to Know
The first thing to know is that traditional midwifery language is not one of inclusivity. The word midwife means “with woman.” That being said, I honor however you identify yourself. My world is one of inclusivity. Of serving women, moms, dads, birthing parents, and however the person I am serving wishes to be identified.
I think of myself as an instrument; as a gift I have to share with you and your baby. That when my knowledge and skills are needed, they are there for you to use them and benefit from them. And that when nothing is needed at all, that nothing is done, everything left to be as it should – not doing something just because some “thing” needs to be done. Often, nothing needs to be done at all. Birth works. Your body works. Babies are brilliant and know what is best for them.
I am a very traditionally-minded midwife. I come from a world of herbs and homeopathy – not jumping to medications as the first line of action. One of my preceptors imparted on me her wisdom from having traveled the world and served women and babies as a midwife in undeveloped country situations. How to practice midwifery without all of the toys of modern medicine. And to always, always, always honor what you and your baby are telling me in the whole picture. Always.
Tammi, at 21, holding a nice fat baby during volunteer work on Ile a Vache, Haiti
That being said, I am also a Certified Professional Midwife with a license that can be used to bridge gaps with those medical model providers willing to work with a CPM when that gap needs to be filled, which is not often at all, and only for medical necessary situations (Such medical model providers are very few and far between – the license does not change the predominant medical model mentality, nor that of ACOG, that homebirth is unsafe.). The license allows your insurance to be billed (for those whose health insurance will pay for such services). The license has not changed the midwife I am. It has opened up doors for you and for me.
Informed Consent is the heart of midwifery care – the hallmark. You are given the risks and benefits and research pertaining to the decisions being made.
So back to traditional midwifery. As is true of midwives in the past, I expect you to be in charge of your body and to know your baby well. With research so readily accessible, I expect you to do your own research throughout the entire pregnancy – I will give you information, but I will not make decisions for you. I know you’ve been waiting for this – someone who will listen to you and what you have to say.
No, I won’t use a doppler to listen to your baby’s heartbeat during your prenatal visits. I use what midwives before me have used – a fetoscope. In the few times I have had to use it, I felt babies move away from the area that the doppler is being used. They experience what the doppler does to them, and I won’t do that to a baby – not when I can do what I need to do with no impact on the baby, with my fetoscope.
I don’t support ultrasound use to find out the sex of your baby. Dr. Sarah Buckley, who is very supportive of midwifery, discusses the risks with routine ultrasounds: “Ultrasound Scans – cause for concern” and Q&A: Is ultrasound safe? I share her concerns and so I share this with you.
I will not subject you to routine cervical exams, prenatally or in labor. I trust the birth process, I trust what you are experiencing and saying to me. I trust that you know when it is time to birth your baby – without subjecting you to a routine cervical exam for my benefit (i.e., I will not make you “be checked” when you feel the urge to birth your baby).
So when you think of what you want from a midwife, know that philosophically, I practice as a very traditional midwife, supporting all people who choose to birth as they have done so for years and years and years.