The Role of Midwives

I became interested in midwifery when I became pregnant with my oldest son.  In the early 2000s, it was still illegal to practice midwifery in Missouri.  After I had both of my sons by caeserean to avoid passing on a hepC virus to them, I lost touch with the movement.  It was disappointing with the older boy to accept not birthing him at home using the Bradley method which my husband and I diligently studied.

I do believe that for simple common healthy births, a midwife is a wonderful addition to a family’s experiences.  I did become convinced that midwifes are exceptional people.

In some cases, midwives become involved in births with a mother who is planning to relinquish her baby for adoption.  A midwife may be more compassionate about the grief that separating a baby from its mother will undoubtedly cause.

Unresolved grief will have an impact on the life of any woman who relinquishes her baby.  It appears that mothers involved in an ‘open adoption’ will not suffer as extremely the many adverse effects that mothers who have been involved in closed adoptions do.

A midwife needs to identify and develop the skills needed when caring for a mother planning to relinquish her baby. These include adopting a non-judgmental approach, being an effective listener, offering choices about every aspect of care and offering interventions known to help a bereaved mother.

A midwife should also see to it that prospective adoptive parents are not allowed to be with the mother as she is birthing her child.  They should support a period of time for the mother and baby to bond after birth.  Some women given a private amount of time to be with their baby will decide not to relinquish the baby.  Women should never be coerced into doing so by agreements they made before birth.

These are some of the reforms that could be initiated to lessen the wounds suffered by both mother and child due to adoption.

Labor Day

Globally, today is known as Labor Day (although celebrated later in the year in the United States).  I know that usually, Labor Day, relates to paid work but women do the work of Labor all the time.

Every child at this time in human evolution comes into the world through a woman’s womb.  Aldous Huxley in his book Brave New World anticipated huge scientific developments in reproductive technology.  And in fact, in my lifetime such developments made it possible for me to give birth at ages 47 and 50.  In Huxley’s novel, citizens are engineered through artificial wombs (which I am happy we have not evolved to yet) and childhood indoctrination programs that sort them into predetermined classes (or castes) based on intelligence and labor demands.

I found pregnancy mostly delightful.  Not everyone does.  And always my labor was not unfortunately memorable.  With my first pregnancy at age 19, my water broke and I was taken to the hospital quickly.  My doctors were busy in surgery at a different hospital.  I was managing my labor just fine but they knocked me out.  I woke up in the delivery room briefly to see my doctor putting on his gloves.  The next thing I knew, I was being wheeled down a corridor and a nurse was showing me a baby and telling me that I had a daughter.  I was so certain I was having a son, she had to tell me three times.  I did see my family’s resemblance in the tiny infant.

Because the experience I had with my daughter was unsatisfying, with my oldest son’s pregnancy I took Bradley classes, wanted to give birth naturally at home with a midwife (which at the time was illegal in my state of Missouri).  It was not to be because just before he was conceived, I also learned I was positive for the hepatitis C virus.  Research had determined we could prevent transmission with a caesarean section.  With both boys, that is what we did and they both tested negative at 18 months old.  A mother does what a mother has to do for her child, not for her own gratification.

For some mothers, going into labor ends their relationship with their child – either because the baby is stillborn (a real tragedy but nature’s way in some cases) – or because the mother is surrendering her child to someone else to raise (also a tragedy but of a different sort).

There are many adoptive parents who celebrate receiving a child in this manner and they would not agree with my perspectives but every adoption begins with a loss for someone else.