Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring Break

My younger kids have Spring Break this week. It is SO nice to take a break from the daily grind of getting up early, before school/work chaos, the day running around to pre/post natals, home, dinner, then administrative work and family time. I enjoy sitting around in my jammies for the morning and being leisurely, eating decadent things for breakfast and enjoying a slow cup of coffee.

I am happily expecting a couple of births this week. I haven't had a birth in 2 weeks, and this is a really long time for me to go without attending one. I'm excited to reconnect to that energy again. After my last child was born, I took a few months off from going to births, and I would find myself calling my colleagues and students every couple of days to hear new birth stories. It just never gets old.

I think about what I'll do someday when or if I retire from going to births. Probably teach and write about birth full time, most likely. And travel the world. I had my first children quite young, and continued having a baby here and there until I was 35, so a lot of travel has not been so feasible. Until then, though, there are still so so many things to do. I would love to do a shamanic herbalist apprenticeship with Susun Weed. I want to study osteopathy. I want to do more in depth midwifery studies. It's not that I want to practice as a midwife. Not at all. But I appreciate learning as much about something I'm dedicated to as possible.

I may be going away a bit this September and get the opportunity to learn some more technical midwifery skills, though that's not the intent of the trip. I'll keep you posted on this as the plans shape up.

What I have really enjoyed about knowing about the midwifery approach to maternity care, being a consumer and a witness, is talking about it with the friendly doctors I work with. When they're open to it, they're quite fascinated. On occasion I will be with a nervous resident and a woman will be insisting on staying in her hand-and-knees position to birth her babe, and I've been able to talk the resident through it to some extent if they've open to hearing it, giving them little tips on how I've seem midwives do it. or at least reassure them the baby can certainly come out this way, as I've seen it many many times and know it's possible, having birthed in that position myself, as a matter of fact. It's a very interesting part of my job, to evoke interest in what those crazy midwives are doing in out-of-hospital births. I so wish the system was such that midwives could do some skill enrichment workshops with doctors so all the docs could catch babies in different positions with confidence. This would create so much more opportunity for women to have better births in the hospital. But alas, I can't see this happening for a long time, given the general feelings of animosity between doctors and midwives here.

As a doula, I seem to be in a unique position. Most of the doctors I work with trust me and know I'm not out to practice midwifery "on" their patients. My clients are all very aware of who their primary caregivers are, and know I don't take responsibility for monitoring their babies or checking their cervices at home. So the doctors know I know who calls the clinical shots. This clear boundary seems to be one of the keys to that trust. I don't remove monitors without permission or fiddle with IVs or try to catch a baby before the doctor gets there, as I know some doulas have the reputation of doing. They also see the results of their patients having doula care, and most are now definite supporters of doula attended births. In fact, my doula colleague Rivka and I have been approached on occasion by family doctors and nurses to potentially do some doula training for medical/nursing students. We did a workshop once with family doctors on non-pharmaceutical pain relief in labour. Now THAT was exciting, as we generated some inspiration. Though I'm not a midwife, I am a natural birth ambassador within a high-tech system, witnessing births from every point in the spectrum, and it is a powerful position to be in, as I can do some serious seed planting in the hopes of creating a little more gentleness within this system.

In any case, I feel a more in-depth blog steeping on that subject, but I'll leave it for now, and go enjoy my kids, who seem to be in a pile, wrestling on the floor with the dog and their dad. I'm jumping in!