I've been cogitating on this post for a while now. I have had a couple of experiences lately with women wanting an unassisted birth (UC). I bet this will create a firestorm, so I'm getting out my asbestos panties.
There is this thought among some circles that UC is the ultimate birth experience possible. That it is more "pure", "better" or even "holy/sacred". I don't buy it. Some even call it Purebirthing or Freebirthing. If a woman is having to think and be aware of what's happening is she really free to go to that primal place? What happens if her baby needs resuscitating and she has to do it herself? Certainly that's possible. Some women may prefer that. For myself, I did not want to have to, even though I know HOW.
I understand that this is largely a backlash against the overuse of technology in birth. For some women it's a reaction to a horrible previous experience, either with a midwife or a hospital birth. Here in America, where we have access daily to clean water, plenty of food, adequate shelter, and indoor plumbing (with it's resultant sanitation perk), women are most often healthy enough to give birth to healthy babies with not a lot of issues.
However, birth is not always perfect. Even when the woman is educated and unafraid. Shoulder dystocia is a thing. It happens. And it's not always as simple as "flip the mom over and the baby pops out. Easy peasy". If only that were so! It's not always as simple as "if the mom bleeds, pop a piece of placenta in her mouth or a dropper of Shepherd's Purse and her bleeding will stop before it's dangerous". If only that were so! It's not always so simple as "If mom eats good food when she's hungry, and listens to her body, she'll grow a healthy baby." If only that were so!
The catchphrase is "Trust Birth". Well, I don't trust birth. Birth can be a fickle and capricious mistress. We live in a sinful, fallen world. Our bodies are no longer in the perfected state in which they were created. I trust God, not my body. My body gets sick. My bones can break. My body is not perfect. I trust God, but I still buckle my seatbelt. I trust God, but I still have life insurance. I trust God, but I still bring in an income to help feed my family. I trust God, but I still carry equipment and supplies for resuscitation and to treat hemorrhage.
Some UC birthers end up going to the hospital when it's not necessary simply due to a lack of knowledge or support. Some end up staying home when they should go in because of a lack of knowledge or support.
I've heard several stories lately about UC birth. In one a woman who showed up three times to two different local emergency rooms with questions about her health postpartum. The third time was a day and a half after the birth and she had a perineal tear she wanted evaluated. If she'd had a midwife, she would not have needed to make any of those visits to the ER, using taxpayer resources at the most expensive level possible.
Another situation was a first time mom who had developed every classic sign of pre-eclampsia and was still debating if she should have to go to the hospital. (She did, thank God)
The office of midwife is one ordained by God. It is talked about in Scripture. Midwives are even named in scripture and we are told that God blessed them and their families. Women from the beginning of time have had midwives by their side giving birth, and there's a reason for that.
Even I had the idea that women give birth unassisted "all over the world" with no problem. Until I talked to several midwife friends who had been to third world countries on mission trips and saw the problems that can occur. Until I dealt with my first shoulder dystocia that was NOT because of a big baby, but because of the position of the baby's arms. Changing the mother's position did nothing. Until I dealt with the woman who had a partially separated placenta and had dumped a huge amount of blood and was losing consciousness.
I have seen enough in my short little career as a midwife to convince me that most of the time I am "expensive cleanup", but there have been a few times I have been there that I (and the parents) have been very, very grateful for.
Some women say they are taking the responsibility on themselves, but if they are not conscious, or their baby is stuck, they will not be the ones dealing with it. Their partner or husband will be. Is HE ready to deal with those emergencies?
I am sure this will not be an entirely popular opinion, but there it is. Midwife Judy Mentzer has said, "All the midwives need each other and the women need all the midwives."