Am I a midwife?

OK, I’ll answer that if I can…  In the current climate, I would rather gouge out my own eye balls.  Here’s why…

Midwives have to jump through too many hoops for the sake of the lawyer-driven policy and right now they really struggle to provide good midwifery.  If I could do direct entry to independent practice and bypass the NHS, or train somewhere with a stand alone unit, I’d do it like a shot, but I couldn’t work in a large consultant unit where care is compromised for fear of litigation…  A place where a midwife is overstretched and may be caring for several women at once and unable to give her full care to any, where she may not get a meal all shift, where sometimes she might even have to hold off going to the loo because she is spreading herself more thinly than is safe already.

Right now, I serve women better by being a Doula, by giving high quality evidence based information and support, by encouraging women to understand their own needs and make their own decisions, by offering high quality, consistent and effective support for breastfeeding.  I help more by campaigning for women centred care than I would as an over-stretched NHS midwife, having to give what I know is substandard care because I am serving three women and not the 1:1 I know is right. I’d be so miserable having to compromise my principles and the best evidence like that.

As it is, I can educate and empower women and support them to make their own choices and to get the care they deserve.  I can provide support when it is needed most, especially in those situations where a woman wants something which goes against management policy.  For me it is easy because my job is not on the line if I support the woman’s wishes and evidence-based, sensitive and individualised care against a ‘one size fits no-one’ system.  My job is on the line if I fail to support the woman in a woman-centred situation. I have never met a midwife trying to practice real midwifery who has not been glad to have me there.  Those who want women to blindly do as they are told, regardless of their own needs and perceptions think I am a pain in the butt.  I can live with that if it means someone gets a better birth and early parenting experience than they would have got otherwise.

So, no, I am not a midwife.  I am an advocate for women, I am an educator, I am support.  I am a Doula and it is the best job in the world.

About Tiffany Aching

Tiffany has had 2 caesareans, 2 normal births and an unassisted VBAC. Her favourite birth was the unassisted one because it was so calm and so peaceful. She never got to the stage of being frightened or needing pain-relief. She felt like she could climb Everest afterwards, it was so amazing. It was a perfect experience. Apart from the bit where her labouring brain forgot where she put the special aromatherapy birthday candle she had so carefully bought for the event. It never did get lit, it now has a place of honour as it had lost its smell by the time it was found. Tiffany is a birth supporter and childbirth advocate. Having experienced the extremes of childbirth she is passionately in favour of every woman having a birth which leaves them strong and whole. Tiffany loves her children with the ferocity of a lioness. She would never knowingly or willingly put them in danger and having done enormous amounts of research she concluded that the best way to get a physically and emotionally safe birth for her and her baby was to be at home.
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