The Issue At Hand
There is a secret in our birth culture. And no, it’s not that labour is painful and that birthing people are strong. It’s that our birth communities are fractured. Heated online and print debates concerning certifications, regulations, organizations, qualifications and scopes of practice are all too common as the greater birth community attempts to establish absolutes around professional legitimacy – the whom, where and how families are “allowed” to give birth and the rules that govern how birth workers and attendants are permitted to support the families they serve.
I often hear from new and experienced birth workers alike that they feel a lack of support after their initial trainings.
Birth workers express frustration at the constant social pressure to offer their services in the birth community in a very specific, pre-approved fashion that may or may not feel authentic to how they want or are being asked to serve their community. They are warned not to get “too big”, challenge the status quo, charge too much, too little (or at all) for their services, lest they destabilize the progress that’s been made by those who came before them. They may feel unprepared to navigate the realities of birth work and normal life, especially when they are faced with unexpected outcomes or witness trauma. Many birth workers find themselves falling into a pattern of compliance with social norms in the birth room or adherence to a “one right way” of birth that often leads to feelings of scarcity, disillusionment, isolation and burnout.
What Can We Do About It?
There is a need to rebuild our birth communities from the ground up. We need to hold compassionate, radical acceptance for the roles we each uniquely hold within our birth communities, no matter where our certifications come from (if at all), no matter the capacity or modality in which we practice our chosen craft as individuals. We need to show up – to be seen and to see each other as equals in this new paradigm, with inclusivity in our hearts. We must challenge the false notion that we are powerless to change birth or to support our communities. We must stand together and support one another.
If you are a birth worker looking to connect with others who hold a vision for collaboration, support and bridge building between professions, please contact me for information and groups that may be available in your area.
I offer mentoring for new birth workers in the YYC birth community on a volunteer basis. I believe that access to knowledge and support should not be restricted within any given organization, certification, system or social hierarchy – we need a community based birth model that acknowledges and supports our individual and collective abilities to nurture and care for ourselves and others. It is up to each and every one of us to decide how, where and in what capacity we are willing to serve our communities, whether we decide to embrace already established scopes of practice, whether we pursue certification, wherever we identify ourselves to be along the spectrum of birth keeping.
As I’m also finding my way as a birth keeper (and will forever be taught by birth and the families I serve), I cannot claim to have all the answers. However, I’m happy to share what I do know, with those who are interested.
- Sharing of knowledge, experiences and skill sets.
- Meeting you where you are currently at in your birth work, with compassion and without judgement.
- Access to the WWWC Lending Library.
- Debriefing and birth story listening for difficult births and/or unexpected birth outcomes.
If you are interested in a mentorship relationship, please contact me for availability. I am able to take on a limited number of mentorships in order to maintain a sustainable balance within my ongoing midwifery education, community birth work and the needs of my family.