“The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
~Exodus 1:15-22 (NIV)
These midwives reflect the attitude of most midwives throughout history. They know that women are “vigorous,” and are very capable of birthing their babies. They respect the autonomy of these women, and hold life to be sacred. They exercise civil disobedience, rather than allowing harm to come to mothers and babies.
They strive for safe, evidence-based practices, and are truly examples of what it means to serve humbly. They are not voodoo witch-doctors, waving incense and hoping everything turns out alright. They are highly skilled, intelligent, and competent women who understand that birth is much more than a physical action. It is tied closely to our emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Knowing this, they are quick to refer to obstetrical care when they see that it is needed.
They deserve respect, recognition, and a greater place in our maternal health care in this country. Period.
No, home birth isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t matter if the option gets taken away from the less than 1% who want it in this country. The evidence backs it solidly as a viable option, and if we lose midwifery care…I don’t even want to think about it.
The travesty in NYC is horrific. Let it not come to pass anywhere else, and may this lapse in judgment end swiftly!
I had no idea how deeply this would affect me – and I don’t live in NYC. Being a part of that under 1% population is why this angers and saddens me so much. Cuts me to the quick how poorly midwives are viewed in this country. The more I learn about typical birth in this country, the more stories I hear that should have gone differently, the more women I see hurt…I can’t explain it.
This just makes me weep.
That a highly trained professional could be prosecuted for providing evidence-based, loving care to a woman and her baby is just sick.
To my favorite midwife, Merrie: THANK YOU so much for what you do. I am more grateful than I can say that your care is legally available in this state. May it always be so…