Sunday, February 20, 2011

Midwifery as A Calling

You have to check out this post at The Gift of Giving Life and read about how Mormons in the early days of their church considered midwifery a position in the church where women were called according to the inspiration of the spirit to serve the women in their congregations. Unfortunately, this practice did not persist beyond the days of birth moving to the hospital but for the time that it did exist, I can only imagine how empowering, spiritually uplifting and community strengthening such a tradition would be. 

As a Mormon by conversion, I am wistful for the days of this practice and wish that society hadn't changed so much that midwives called in each ward or take became a thing of the past. Right now in the church, there is no structure in the organization to connect Mormon (or as I prefer LDS) women with LDS midwives. I know they exist, along with a score of doulas, childbirth educators and birth junkies because I have become acquainted with many of them across the internet. 

I know that I as a birthing woman would love to work with an LDS midwife or have an LDS doula. I don't even know if there are LDS doulas or midwives in my area and I wish I did. I love the Christian midwife that I worked with during my last pregnancy but a Christian worldview was second best in comparison to a Mormon worldview. (I can clarify on this if my readers are interested). 

As an aspiring midwife and birth attendant, I feel prompted to offer my services as a doula during labor and postpartum to the women in my local congregations. In the past I have tried to get the word out that I am interested and willing to offer this as an act of service but like I said there are few ways to get this known to the local women. Meetings are structured so that there is time for very little else and the scope of the LDS church's women's organization is so broad that its hard to cover all of the many ways that relief can be provided through charity. 

I would really like to see a directory/registry/list of LDS doulas, midwives and childbirth educators that is shared on the internet for LDS women to refer to as they are looking for maternity care. In a way, it would bring back a little bit of the community that once existed in the church with Relief Society sisters literally providing relief during some of the most important and hard work of a Mormon woman's life.

Since the church is organized in geographical areas called stakes, I would love to see this list be organized by stakes. Usually a stake covers a city or town (or in some cases a few towns near each other) and has around 1,000 members of the church. Its usually within driving distance from one end of the stake to another and given the distances that I've heard some midwives travel to assist women at their births seems doable for one woman in the stake to reach any and all of the sisters when she is in labor. And there's nothing wrong with having more than one midwife listed in a stake. 

The main difference between a list like this and the former way of issuing callings is that no one is assigned to be a specific midwife or doula to a certain area. There could be a dozen midwives and doulas in a given stake (oh what a dream!) and there wouldn't need to be competition or obligation. A childbearing woman has so many options when it comes to birth attendants (hopefully) that often what she needs to make an informed choice is access to information about the options available to her. I truly think that if LDS women knew that there were LDS women near them who were trained and qualified in attending births that they would work together in many cases. What a blessing that would be to the community of sisters! 

Who's with me in creating his list? Do you know of any LDS doulas, midwives or childbirth educators in your stake or ward boundaries? Are you one? 

Or even better, does what I'm hoping for already exist??