Midwifery Today – Lois Wilson
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was taught the art and craft of midwifery through study, apprenticeship, and mentoring. It was the mid-1980s, and the landscape of birthing in America was quite different than it is now.
One of the fascinating things about birth (undisturbed, physiological birth) is that it never changes. Not through the decades, centuries, or millennia of human existence. Birth, itself, does not change. The birthing landscape, however, does change, and radically at that.
With the changes that have taken place in that landscape over the past 40 years, the way of “training” midwives has changed as well. And some of those changes in “midwifery education” have, I believe, left behind the most essential aspects of what is required to be nurtured into becoming a midwife. The very terms “training” and “midwifery education” are reflections of this change.
The voice and methods of patriarchal culture are ubiquitous. We are fish swimming in patriarchal waters, whether we are aware of the water or not. The modern institutions of politics, education, and medicine were created by and for men, and continue to be dominated by the patriarchal world view today. Midwifery, an art and craft conceived by and for women, has been reshaped with the effort to become approved, respected, and ratified by these patriarchal institutions.
Where has this gotten us in the past four decades? More autonomy? More respect? More agency? No. Just the opposite, in fact.
I share these observations by means of an introduction to how I was called to create a school of traditional midwifery and why we are meeting in a small cohort, hands-on, in real time and space.
One of my own beloved mentors, Valerie El Halta, would often say that we should “choose our teachers and mentors wisely, because we will become like them.” Intrinsic to this statement is the understanding that becoming a midwife is much more than the skills we are taught. There is something deeper that is passed on from mentor to student: the heart of midwifery, the actual way of being that is at the core of how a midwife moves in the world, and the way that she interacts with mothers, babies, families, and communities.
This “something deeper” stands at the center of Sophia’s Circle School of Traditional Midwifery.
In my understanding, traditional midwifery is best taught in the traditional way: with mentors who know and love you, in real time and space, and in a circle with your sister midwives.
I have shared with my students in Sophia’s Circle that I am modeling all the time. Everything I say or don’t say, do or don’t do, is intentional. I am midwifing my students! Teaching them about how to create and hold safe space is done while creating and holding safe space. Teaching the core qualities of midwifery care (love, courage, humility, intuition, authenticity, respect, service) is done while providing that kind of care for them. I refer to these as the soft skills of midwifery … the ones that enable us, as midwives, to practice the hard skills with gentleness, wisdom, and integrity…
Go to Midwiferytoday.com to read the entire article.