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Why do I wish to be a midwife?
By Connie Dello Buono
At the age of 19 when I started working,
I prayed to God to show me my right calling. I asked Him to show me the
career that is best suited for me. For ten years that I worked in the
corporate world, I found no meaning or true satisfaction. Working in the
high tech industry made me become something less than the empowered woman
that I should be.
After the birth of my first child, I cried a cupful of
tears in appreciation for the mothers, especially my mother who endured
the labor of love to give birth to me. I cried in praise for my midwives
who gave their personal touch of care in my bedroom as I fathom the
unknown in birthing. I vowed to be a midwife to provide care for many new
mothers to come who need the personal touch of a midwife. I vowed to be a
midwife for the rest of my life for I find it more meaningful to be there
with the laboring woman and catch life as it blossoms before my eyes.
I was pregnant, there was nobody to ask about the power of birth except
the midwives and mothers who believe in the natural process of birth. As a
new mother, I learned a lot from the midwives and mothers who have
breastfed and cared for their babies. I have endured many months of
pumping milk at work to find no help except from a few parents and
There seem to be few women who have labored at home, delivered
their babies without medication, breastfed even while working, massaged
their babies and slept with them. Imagine the many babies who could be
spared colic and other ailments had their mothers been guided from the
start of conception. Few women have heard the voices of their mother
telling them that they can birth their babies with a midwife at home.
lucky that my mother who is 12,000 miles away from me (she is in the
Philippines) told me on the phone that since she did it with her five
children I can birth at home too with a midwife. I remembered her painful
experience during her birth with an H-mole or during the time when she had
an ectopic pregnancy (her seventh pregnancy) at the hospital. Doctors
could not detect whether she was carrying a baby or not. Ultrasound must
not have been around in the Philippines during the year 1974.
Nevertheless, I learned that the IUD scarred her fallopian tube that made
way to an ectopic pregnancy, a life threatening condition. Thank God she
survived after delivering a grapelike form, an H-mole or whatever they
call it. There are times that the medical model of care is justified.
But, there are times that it is not. My
first time to cry a lot at the birth of another baby was in 1998 during my
EMT childbirth observation sessions at a hospital. When the mother was
strapped and had a c-section because she was progressing poorly according
to the doctors. I hugged her and comforted her while she was given the
spinal block - anesthesia. She cried when the baby came out and I did too.
I did not stop crying while watching the baby being suctioned and looking
at his bloody scalp. I kissed the mom and went to the next laboring woman.
I talked to the father and told him how
labor is work and that mom should be in an upright position. He talked to
his wife about it. So, when the nurse is away from the room I positioned
the head of the bed to be lifted up a bit to allow the mom to see herself
and bear with ease.
As I simulated the pushing and breathing, I grabbed
the mom's thigh and foot and instructed the dad to follow me.
came out 35 minutes later.
I saw the doctor manipulating the baby while
the baby was still rotating and so the mom had a second degree tear.
next morning I was holding another thigh and foot while simulating the
pushing and breathing and coached the mom who had no tear after the doctor
caught her baby. She smiled when I looked at her and praised her.
remember an office mate of mine who had a previous c-section and days
before her labor sought my advice on how to birth vaginally. I showed her
the position and how her body will respond to birth. I told her not to be
afraid and don't ever think that her previous scar will ever open. She
then had her baby vaginally a few days after. I remembered seeing her
glowing smile months later with her baby in her arms.
I remember my own
grandmother giving me a massage and how often when she gave me one, my
fever would go away the next day. She healed me like no other. My mother
learned from her and I learned from her when, in Taiwan, my feverish
roommate asked me to massage her and her fever subsided the next day.
have been massaging my babies since then and taught other mothers to do
the same. I have seen mothers delivering their babies at home when I was
growing up in the rural areas. In the city, women have lost touch with the
power of birth or they have no choice in the hospital where they were
treated like a factory and machines. In a cold isolated place, with their
bare bodies exposed they are checked many times by student doctors and
left without a woman companion to labor.
Sadly, most of my cousins and my
own sisters in the Philippines have never breastfed their babies. One of
my sisters tried for a week after I coaxed her many times on the phone.
Most of them spend a third of their salaries just for buying baby
formulas. The American mother is their model.
When I was home in the
Philippines in 1997 I met two young mothers in their early thirties, one
with six children and the other one with thirteen children. I talked to
them about how to check for their bodies' fertile periods and how to
abstain when they are fertile. I know the culture of being submissive to
Filipino husbands. I pray that since they already live in poverty that
they would not bear any more children than they can afford to feed.
visited a clinic and talked to young midwives about what I learned from
American midwives, and they were surprised of the many things that they
don't know and told me to be one of the speakers in the coming national
midwives conference. I vowed to be back someday and share what I learned
to all professional health care givers and midwives in the Philippines.
Next year, I hope find support for my next project - Philippine Birth
Project which aims to increase the number of licensed California midwives
and served low-income birthing families in the Philippines and the USA. I
believe that each family can make a difference in changing the way we
birth our babies. See also: Birth
I have a vision of how I will start my
own home practice in midwifery. How I will reach out to the community and
show them how mothers have their babies and how the midwifery model of
care provides the personal touch that mothers need when having their
I have listened to many midwives who have
shaped my view of the power of birth: to Saraswathi Vedam, Yelena Kolodji,
Cher Simnit, Faith Gibson, Susan Claypool, Claudia Cameron, Veronica
Wagner, the Santa Cruz Midwives, Erin Ryan and many more from student
midwives to childbirth educators.
We need more midwives and midwives
supporters. We need to spread the word. Call a midwife when you want to
celebrate life and the power of birth and the power of women's bodies! If
you want more healthy mothers and calm babies, you should become an
advocate of natural childbirth aided by midwives. So let's welcome the
next generation of midwives, for all midwives are keepers of natural birth
and believers in the power of women's bodies to give life.
Connie's email: firstname.lastname@example.org