Sometimes, I completely hate the media. It endorses common fears women have about natural birth and birthing at home, when there truly should not be anything to fear. As I’ve said before, birth is natural. Our bodies were made to do it. In a normal pregnancy, birth with a midwife is the best option, no matter where you give birth, because the midwife will give you the most all-around care and usually be at your side for most of the birth, unlike OBs who let nurses check on the laboring mama and report back, not arriving in the delivery room permanently until the last few minutes of birth. But instead of seeing these facts, people only see the horror stories in the media about home birth midwives who lost baby or mom or both in their birth. Infant and maternal mortality are risks attributed to BOTH hospital and home births. The problem is that there are midwives out there who have little training and experience under their belts, and they are missing important warning signs, both before and during labor, that should trigger them to advise birth in a hospital. I, myself, am going through an EIGHT YEAR program through the University of Midwives. It is insane to me to think that there are midwives out there who are licensed and certified with less than one year of training and experience. The doctors and women out there who are fearful of home birth certainly have every right to be, with such lax training protocols! An obstetrician can not practice without going through medical school. I think the same amount of training should be the norm for midwives, as well! We are holding at least two precious lives in our hands every time we attend a birth. I know that personally, I would rather die myself than be responsible for a mother or child’s death because I was not adequately trained to recognize and treat potentially deadly complications. I will rest easy knowing that I am never going to stop training, even after I go into practice. That I will do my best to memorize every affliction a birthing mother is at risk for. That I will learn the early warning signs that would make me recommend a hospital birth and not offer services at home. That I will never be reckless in my education, so I will not be reckless during a birth. How is it that some women who aspire to be midwives do not feel the same way? What could possibly possess a woman (or man) to begin practicing midwifery after only ONE YEAR of training, and no formal education? I think they are insane, and they hurt my odds of being a successful midwife because they (rightfully) scare women away from our profession.
So here’s my advice to all you mommas out there. If you are going the home birth route, do your research! Find out if your midwife has any malpractice suits. If she does, find out the circumstances. Find out how long your midwife has been practicing. Ask what training she went through to be a midwife, and how long she studied before practicing on her own. Ask her for statistics on how many babies she has transferred to a hospital and what the reasoning for some of those instances were. Ask to speak to former patients who will vouch for her. Ask if she has had any infant or maternal deaths, and, if so, what the circumstances were. If you feel like your midwife isn’t honest with you about any of the above, find someone else! The most important part of a midwife-patient relationship is trust! So make sure your midwife deserves yours.