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Midwifery knowledge is everything about women. It is innate. It is what our bodies know without instruction when fear is absent. It is more than birth. It includes living, loving, sharing, crying, learning, helping and simply being silent while listening.
We begin to gather this mysterious knowledge as children from the time spent with mothers, grandmothers, and other women we believe to be wise and wonderful. We start by emulating their actions by giving hugs, wiping tears and helping with whatever we can. As we grow and our bodies change, we self-examine, question and begin to search for information in books; many girls now look to the Internet. Most young women sit back and contemplate what they feel and what they learn to see of it matches. Some women believe what they learn. Others bury the knowledge and want to ignore it. I believe these are the same women that who turn to technology and schedule their lives to fit into patterns that go against nature. They spend their lives trying to figure out what went wrong while telling the world that everything is all right. Other women take their innate knowledge and revel in it and become mothers—some stay at home, some home school, some work out in the world. They know who they are and have confidence. They grow throughout their lives, gracefully accepting joy, change and tragedy with equal aplomb.
Then there are those of us who are drawn into doing more with the knowledge. We are concrete learners who have to experience, search and think about each event. Eventually we look for validation through education, either self-taught or formal. We enjoy seeing experience meet up with theory and are satisfied when they match. We clearly recognize when textbooks describe a concept of “normal” that doesn’t match. When we puzzle through it, we conclude that “normal” to some has been veiled with all the intervention women have suffered through the technology surrounding birth.
Midwives share a continuum of remembering, learning new things, applying knowledge, re-evaluating, trying new recipes for success, sharing with each other and loving the mothers and the process of birth. Accumulating the knowledge of how to be healthy, maintain good nutrition and have a responsible pregnancy is not difficult. It becomes difficult, however, when we go beyond “normal” and care for those women who have not had role models to teach them responsibility or who have abandoned the innate knowledge available to them. When we decide we want to match the expertise of the physician and begin to manipulate “normal,” we change the role of midwife.