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Midwifery Today Conference

Just got back from my only day at the Midwifery Conference in Eugene, Oregon today. There were very bright and precious gems of insight I gained from being there, but I am left wondering where are the critical thinkers? Where are the midwives who are looking at what we are all doing and questioning the directions we are headed and the right steps?

I understand that midwives need to support each other and that, as a community, midwifery needs to insulate itself from the medical model of childbirth. I understand that some of us can be arrested in their state if they have to transport a mother to a hospital. And I understand that we need to celebrate what we do and how we do it. Cheerleading is great - at times.

But I left the conference only hearing one person, Michel Odent (who I am totally in love with), ask such questions. He proposed that men all together, male doctors, husbands and fathers should be banned from the birth room. This stems from the fact that Midwifery is woman's work and men are under pressure in this situation and their stress hormones are contagious to the birthing mom (among other factors).

Interesting point he brings up. I would love to ask him if he could re frame that to try to educate men to understand the birth process and recreate a supportive environment for the mom? But I want to talk more about this later.

What I'm really feeling is this very uncomfortable notion that we, as a midwifery community, are living in a bit of a vacuum and only asking questions that are politically correct. Which is partially hilarious when you think about it considering Midwifery has been pushed to the fringes of all that is acceptable.

Michel Odent is holding a conference next year in the Canary Islands (I think) that is bringing people who normally wouldn't interact with each other (you know, the guy who invented this really great way of doing a C-section and Ina May) to really question each other and talk about the things that no one seems to be talking about. That's my kind of conference. 

At any rate, I'm sure I'll have more insights after I'm able to process it a bit more. What I do know is that being there today got me fired up to begin my studies and interview for apprenticeships. It also left me feeling very confident and comfortable about the path I'm choosing to pursue Midwifery...I know now, with out a doubt, that a traditional academic classroom is not for me. I need to be able to more freely challenge what I'm learning and have many different avenues of exploration.

Today also showed me that I have never been as passionate about anything in my life as I am about childbirth and for that I am so grateful.


Mychelle Moritz said...

Nothing like a conference to inspire and motivate!

I just want to comment on the banning all men from the birthing room comment from Michael Odent. While I was not at the conference and his statement is possibly out of context somewhat, I want to say that it is the across the board statements that I do not like. Where is the choice for a laboring mother if all men are banned? Do the women who are actually the ones supposedly being protected have any say? Why do so many people believe that they know what is best for a laboring woman?

mychelle said...

Sorry about the misspell, Michel Odent, of whom I am also a fan. I appreciate the sentiment from him, but I still stand by my frustration.

Courtney said...

I hear you Mychelle. I would rather never have children than give birth without Dave supporting me.

I'm just glad someone is asking un-pc questions. Fresh air!

Birth Serenity said...

While I tend to agree with Michel Odent on many things this is not one of them. I also believe his years of work in Primal birthing contradict this belief as well. He has been integral in our knowledge of the how we run Oxytocin. He talks of the sexuality of birth.

You cannot, disconnect a couple during birth. Birth is not a woman's thing, a midwives thing, it belongs to the two people who created that baby. Now in our society this may require education and support for men to truly fulfill the role that only they can fully fulfill. I feel that the mere thought of banning men from the birth rooms further takes away the rights of the birthing woman.