There have been a lot of changes to how midwives can practice in Maryland – what was once a felony is now a regulated practice. Yet, it isn’t necessarily easier for parents or midwives now that it’s “legal” to give birth at home with a professional midwife. In this episode of Birth Allowed Radio, we talk with a midwife who has been practicing for 38 years about what she has seen change, and what it means for healthy births moving forward.
My special guest is Karen Webster, of www.womanwisemidwife.com. Karen has been investigated and charged in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia for practicing midwifery–and she says she would do it all again! She puts herself on the line to help women give birth as they choose.
“I was illegal.”
From the 1980s until just recently, it was a felony to practice professional midwifery in Maryland. It is now legal now, but so restricted that it makes practice difficult.
“Not a week that goes by that I don’t have a mom say to me ‘they said that my baby might die if I don’t do this.'”
We have created two separate and often hostile systems. Midwifery respects the client’s right of refusal; they are the center of the care. It puts the onus on women to make decisions about their own care, without using fear or violent, disrespectful language.
Other countries are following our lead when it comes to birth, which is unfortunate, because we aren’t doing a great job. The medical community is starting to realize that we are in crisis and is trying really hard to humanize the doctor-patient relationship–that effort just hasn’t reached Labor & Delivery yet.
“We are terrified of birth and death because it is taken out of our everyday reality.”
Birth and death are so removed from our personal experience that we have given them both over to experts to manage for us at high cost. But that is changing.
“What I see coming is a time when what midwives did in the late 60s, early 70s–the renaissance of midwifery, the re-creation of who we were [as] community midwives–is going to happen again. Because the restrictions being imposed on midwives are not realistic for women.”
Being Mortal, Atul Gawande, www.atulgawande.com/book/being-mortal/
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