(This post is a sequel to my last post called What Is A Birthkeeper?)
I’ve written before about what this new-ish and confusedly thrown-about term means in a general sense. And my conclusion was that you really must have a conversation with the person calling herself a birth keeper in order to really know what that means to her, practically speaking, and what you can and cannot expect from her if she were to attend your birth.
I presented a series of questions to take into such a conversation in order to extract the sort of information you’d need before you can determine if any given birth keeper is the best-fit attendant for your birth. And in this post I’m going to answer them for myself.
What is HER “scope of practice?” What services is she willing/equipped to provide in integrity?
I attend only out-of-hospital births. Those attended by a professional midwife as well as those more aptly considered unassisted births.
At this time — and this may and probably will change over time as I seek out more training and gather even more experience — I offer only non-clinical support. This means that I use my training as a counselor, my status as a follower of Jesus and intercessor, my years of experience in birth spaces, helping hands and comfort techniques to serve women during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I pray, I grab supplies, I informally assess labor progress, I talk through fears and validate feelings, I hold and protect space, I do hip squeezes and foot rubs, encourage discouraged or tired mamas, direct dads to helpful action, clean up birth messes, prepare postpartum foods, and assist older siblings in the birth room, etc.
But what I do NOT offer at this time are things like monitoring fetal heart tones or maternal blood pressure, handling emergent situations with my own hands (rather, I remind you of what you have studied/prepared to do in case of emergency and intercede as YOU do those things with your own hands), cervical checks, catching babies, suturing, etc. I keep a very thick buffer between myself and what can be construed as “practicing medicine without a license.”
Yes, these boundaries are in place in part because it is important to me not to get in trouble with the law (I cannot afford as a mother of 6 to go to jail or endure a large legal battle). But it is also philosophically rooted: I believe that the power and authority inherent in those medical decisions is not mine for the taking, but yours to take responsibility for and ownership for (even if that means eschewing them altogether!).
However, I have studied and have some hands-on experience with many of those clinical skill sets and hope to acquire more. Because of my familiarity with and study on these situations, I am able to point you toward learning resources prenatally, offer a heads-up when I sense a potential problem is arising during labor, and calmly coach you through the handling of whatever comes up.
How does SHE see her role as a Birth Keeper?
If we look at doula to midwife on a sort of continuum, I am presently a bit closer to the doula end of that continuum, but feel myself inching toward (or rather being pulled by God) toward the traditional midwife end. I am becoming.
But the birth keeper’s heart I described in my last post is and always has been 100% true of me.
What are HER responsibilities and what are YOUR responsibilities leading up to and during birth?
As for you….
What has her road into birth work looked like, and which skills, philosophies, and experiences has she gathered along the way?
I stepped into birth work as a birth photographer in 2012 and never looked back. Over the years, photographing naturally opened up to supporting in other holistic, doula-like ways (though I never completed a doula training program).
I did a 9-month apprenticeship with a home birth midwife (43 births attended in that capacity).
In addition, I have a master’s degree in counseling, experience in leading a prayer ministry and discipling women, and a certificate in holistic health combined with years of employment as an assistant to a naturopathic chiropractor. All of these things also play a role in how I approach birth work.
I believe my birth attendance count is now at about 160.
Did she attend a training program and if so, what sort?
Nope. All my book learning and education has been piece-meal and self-directed using books, seminars, conversations with and observation of midwives and doulas, birthing my own children, etc.
I chose not to pursue doula training/certification in part because I realized that all the components of it were things I had already done. And also because I think certification is kind of nonsense.
I didn’t begin midwifery school because I have yet to find one that aligns with and puts me on the path to where I want to end up (until recently!) and because I am not yet clear on whether that’s what is in season for me.
So there you have it! I’m sure it’s not an exhaustive disclosure, but that’s what meet-and-greets are for, right? If you desire to set one up, please reach out. Over coffee or tea we can hit all of your specific questions and get a feel for whether we are a good fit not only philosophically but also on a personal level.
I know and trust that there is a birth attendant for everyone. May you experience God’s grace in guiding you to your ideal birth team!
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