Monday, October 15, 2012

THAT midwife... (Or, let's just be honest, eh?)

You know. THAT midwife - the kind that schedules elective inductions, has short prenatal visits, tells laboring women, "if we break your water, it may help speed this process up a bit." {{shudder}} I disdain that midwife --- or doctor, or whoever --- and rolled my eyes at her throughout my training. No way would I disrespect my clients or gamble with their health and well-being.


I might as well get it tattoo'ed right across my cheekbones. It's me!! I'm her! I'm THAT midwife! *sob* I realized last week how blurred the line has become for me; of the babes I've caught since I've come here, only half (give or take) have been spontaneous labor. The ones that have been induced have rarely been for good, solid medical reasons. Epidurals run rampant - and I don't talk mamas out of them. Initial prenatal visits include a pre-canned speech including reassurance that choosing a CNM-assisted birth does not automatically rule out pain medication or epidurals; women whose eyes widen at the thought of going into spontaneous labor on one of the six days in a given month when my partner or I are not on-call are quickly comforted with a subtle promise, "depending on how you're doing and how favorable your cervix is..."

Who have I become?!

Part of me bristles at this recognition. I don't want to be a "medwife". For every 5-10 minute, tummy check/dopple/how-ya-feeling? prenatal visit, there are four times as many that last three times as long (not to mention the "well" woman visits, gyne exams, and primary care...) As a general rule, our patient population needs *midwives* , not medwives; so many of our families are wrapped in generations of epidemic substance use, alcoholism, violence, and broken families. To be "with woman" consistently - providing unbiased, compassionate care for months and years without fail - seems like the best gift to offer these women, both those who seem to be desperately seeking it and those who push it away. On the other hand, to balance this, time gets away... the "good" patients get quick visits... and unfortunately sometimes things get missed. (I know that this has to happen --- the quiet, sad-eyed primip? During a brief, mid-pregnancy visit when I'm focused on the drug-addicted mama I had just seen --- or worrying about the postterm multip who had again been a no-show --- I might miss the cues that she's giving that something is wrong. I might not ask the right questions, give her the time she needs to feel comfortable to open up to me. Shit.)

But - the realistic part of me knows that some of this had to happen. Inductions happen; so do epidurals, and so --- knock on wood --- will c-sections. Without generalizing the women I am so blessed to work with --- I don't practice in a population that will (can?) embrace the granola-crunchy, no-interventions-please philosophy. (Happily, they don't generally fit the "yes sir, whatever you say, Doctor" mold either... these mamas are strong, and will do whatever they know is best in their situation).

My hope is that I can continue to cultivate growing relationships with each woman and family I work alongside, as well as the community itself, to find the "right" plan for her situation. No glibly tossing out the "I" word, giddily skipping down the L&D hallway to pop a bag o' water, or passing out epidural tubing and meds like candy at a 4th of July parade - simply trusting the relationships and our communication to find the path to a healthy, happy end.

1 comment:

  1. Do not beat yourself up. Your heart is definitely in the right place and you have the heart and soul of a midwife. But, unfortunately, sometimes the stresses and realities of everything else going on at that moment causes us to have to change how we see things in our perfect world. You are an amazing asset to the women and families in your community. Don't ever forget that!