Friday, July 31, 2009

Why I Became a Midwife - Tiffany

I planned to follow in my father's footsteps and have a career in the medical field (he was a paramedic for many years). I originally started schooling to become a paramedic. However my father encouraged me to go into nursing instead as being a paramedic was a dead end job. He also encouraged me to become a nurse practitioner. So I did eventually start nursing school. I had no inkling yet of midwifery, doulas, obstetrics, etc...

Once I reached my OB rotation, I had a feeling that this might be an area I would really like. And it was! I only remember one patient from that rotation...the one who was doing natural childbirth. She was about 4cms and just very calm and breathing through her contractions. She looked like a goddess to me. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints placed on nursing students, I did not get to see her birth.

I started exploring more about childbirth. At this time I had two children of my own already (now 14 and 9). Neither had been very good birth experiences as one was premature and the other was induced for low amniotic fluid, ending with a forceps delivery. I learned about doulas and lay midwives. I also looked into becoming an ob/gyn. Then I discovered there were certified nurse-midwives. I decided that would be the best track for me although it would require several more years of schooling. I had thought about becoming a lay midwife but really wanted to utilize the nursing degree that I was almost finished with. I felt this would give me the best of birth worlds....the more holistic approach but also the medical background. Little did I know that the medical background could hinder as well as help...

At this point I really was focused on childbirth and wanted to have an impact on women's lives in that area. I wanted women to have the birth experience they desired. The more and more I learned about the state of childbirth in this country, the more horrified I became. I felt that as a CNM, I could make a difference.

I had my third child while working on my BSN. It was a much better birth experience, although there were no midwives in the area I lived in. I felt that it could have been optimal, had I had the support of a midwife and/or doula. After the birth of Liberty (who is now 6!), I finally had the opportunity to become a labor and delivery nurse. I had been an RN for a year and hadn't been able to find a L&D position until then. I worked in an emergency department prior to then.

Being a L&D nurse was where I picked up all the bad habits. I learned the fear-based approach to childbirthing. As I started my MSN and midwifery program, it was a very difficult time for me. I had to re-educate myself. What I was learning in school was very much at odds with what I was seeing on L&D. This hospital in South Carolina allowed no VBACs, had a c/s rate in the 4o's (percentage), a 90% epidural rate, a huge amount of pitocin, and just many other unbelievable practices. I eventually had to move to Arizona during graduate school. I finsihed my training at PIMC in Phoenix, while working as a L&D nurse at St Joe's. When I couldn't stand St Joe's anymore, I started teaching nursing students full-time (and yes I taught OB - and I taught from a midwifery perspective :)

I eventually ended up as a CNM working at Bethany Women's Healthcare . I have learned so much since starting there. My skills and intuition as a midwife have improved dramatically, and continue to grow. I now know that trusting birth is something I can do. I know that being in a partnership with women extends beyond just childbirth, but into every aspect of a woman's life.

I love my job.

Tiffany

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful!

    I wish all OBs could start out in low-risk, natural, and even attend home births before starting their residency. Somehow it seems to me that what they start out with (either that birth is an emergency that needs to be controlled, or that birth is natural and typically needs only slight guidance here and there) is how people continue to practice.

    -Kathy

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