Childbirth Educator as Midwife…

“Expectant mothers need to be mothered; their hearts need to be infused with love, confidence, and determination. I now see myself as ‘midwife’ to the gestation and birth of women as mothers.”

–Pam England

This is a beautiful quote that really speaks to how I wish to work with women and what I would like to accomplish.

As I’ve noted before, I have a big binder of back issues of  the International Journal of Childbirth Education and they are a real treasure. Here are several quotes that relate to the sentiment above:

From the Sept. 1999 issue in an article called The Challenge of Change: Making Mother-Friendly Care a Reality in Childbirth Education by Mayri Sagady comes a discussion of educator as “banker” or “midwife”:

[the concept of]..traditional education as ‘banking.’ This is where the role of the teacher is to ‘make deposits of information’ into the student’s mind. The student’s job is simply to ‘store the deposits’…the teacher as midwife [is explained as] ‘Midwife-teachers are the opposite of banker teachers. While the bankers deposit knowledge in the learner’s head, the midwives draw it out. They assist the students in giving birth to their own ideas, in making their own tacit knowledge explicit and elaborating it’…Within the field of childbirth education today, there are surely both ‘bankers’ and ‘midwife-teachers’

Then in the December 1999 issue in an article by Celeste Phillips called Family-Centered Maternity Care: Past, Present, & Future, she offers three challenges for 21st century birthing educators:

+”Help men and women understand that birth itself has the potential to change lives for the better.”

+”Give women a sense of fulfillment and tremendous accomplishment.”

+”Give new parents a strong connection to the very essence of life.”

These are formidable—and exciting—tasks! I think it is important to examine our own birth education programs to see how well we are meeting these challenges and also to strive to serve our clients as midwife-teachers rather than as of bankers of information.

And circling back around to my opening quote,  I am reminded of another good one, this one from Midwifery Today’s founder/editor, Jan Tritten:

“You will have ideas, options and paths to ponder, but you will also have a sense of possible directions to take as you consider midwifery, childbirth education, or being a doula or an activist. Your path may be circular or straight, but meanwhile you can serve motherbaby while on the path, with a destination clearly in mind.” She also says, “I use the word midwife to refer to all birth practitioners. Whether you are a mother, doula, educator, or understanding doctor or nurse you are doing midwifery when you care for motherbaby.” (emphasis mine)

One thought on “Childbirth Educator as Midwife…

  1. Thank you so much for these beautiful quotes! traditionally all over the world midwifery brought together care, nurture and education. Having this shared vision is important for all of us ‘birthers’, in whichever labelled capacity we work.
    Pam, Jan, you continue to convey this message so well.

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