ASPIRING MIDWIVES

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Why do I wish to be a midwife?

By Connie Dello Buono

http://www.motherhealth.com

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.

When 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 midwives. 

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. 

I am 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.

 The baby 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. 

The 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.

I 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. 

I 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. 

When I 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 Topics

 


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 babies.

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: connie@motherhealth.com

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