Midwives Are Not Storks: Babies are not delivered. They are Born
“She is almost delivered…”
“My doctor delivered…”
“She was delivered of a baby (boy/girl)
Client: How many babies have you delivered?
Me: None. I’m not a stork! I birthed two beautiful baby girls and I help women find the birth that each of their babies ask of them.
Client: How many babies do you guys deliver at the birth center every month?
Me: None. We’re not storks! We don’t have beaks! (insert wry smile) We help you BIRTH your sweet baby. We are at your service so actively engage YOU in what feels right at your birthing time. We are partners in CARE.
I am a midwife, a mother of two daughters and a woman. Attending women in birth as a doula, midwife, woman and advocate is all I have ever done in my entire (and now long) adult life.
In training as a midwife, one of the things I was taught earliest on is that language in birth matters. Because, as a provider, I have more power during one of the most transformational times in a birthing person’s life than I will ever know.
Because I can’t ever know all the messages that a person has been fed about themselves, their history, their insecurities, their hurts. My listening and my attention to language may just be the thing that sets the tone of that person’s sense of empowerment, helping them feel for themselves after their birth, that indeed THEY “did it.” And as a result, now have the hope that they can continue “doing it” through all the uncertain, difficult, scary, exhausting times that postpartum and family life will present.
Think about this exchange which happens every day:
“Jane Doe delivered (or ‘was delivered’) this morning.”
Now feel the difference with one simple adjustment:
“Jane Doe birthed her baby this morning.”
Same message. But a message of peace, empowerment and hope.
The language of love is deep.
Remember that until the last hundred years, the language of birth reflected these words:
Midwife to husband: Your baby was just born. Your wife just had her baby.
The moments of birth are impressed on motherbaby as well as everyone around them. It is our sacred responsibility, as midwives, to reflect those moments with the same tender and empowering language that enhances the life-long connection that has just been newly birthed in our presence regardless of outcomes, regardless of place/way of birth.
Because that one word: BIRTH, is sometimes the only humankind essence that a family has to hang onto at first.
I birthed my baby. My baby was born.
My baby was delivered. My midwife/OB delivered my baby.
In the absence of the language of CARE and the language of love and empowerment, the reflection of the miracle of birth turns into a clinical event that lacks a vibration of empowerment and transformation. The story of birth instead turns into something that is given away to someone else.
This is a message I try to impart every single day. To students, providers, families, partners. Because the other, more clinical message to us all is, “fear birth, so let’s just deliver.”
I won’t. I can’t.
The moments of birth each time I am present for it are the only real signs of HOPE for PEACE I see these days.
I will always assist a birthing person in their journey in every way that is needed/required/clinically appropriate. But will then always give the experience and journey back to the family to own and celebrate and use for the journey that will be the rest of their lives.
That is our sacred responsibility.