Patron Saint of being “With woman”

June 2, 2014

Daily Post 101 daily challenge In 300 years, if you were to be named the patron saint of X, what would you like X to be? Places, activities, objects — all are fair game.  


The word Midwife means simply “with woman”,   The definition of a Midwife has been developed now to be “a person who is trained to assist women at birth’. The definition of an Obstetrician in the past was  “he who practices midwifery” and has developed into he who practices Obstetrics(Concerned with Pregnancy and Childbirth)

How you define it really does not matter. When a woman is pregnant and eventually in labour/birth she needs a trained professional to be “with” her.  To be where she is, and where her pregnancy is with all the issues that might have arisen. I believe this has become a dichotomous concept in the world.

In the developing world – getting to a midwife or any trained professional is a continuing tragic issue. Women travel miles and miles to obtain care. Women and their babies die along the way or on admission to the bush clinic. They often suffer tremendous injury that affects them for the rest of their lives.  They have little access to medications that are so common in the West,  they are not available to save lives here. The care that is provided is often not of the same standard as in the West on a very basic level; cleanliness, sterile equipment, and basic trained staff. But the midwives and doctors working in these areas are trying their very best.  

In the West the woman now has the decision of where she might access care – home, birth centre or main obstetric unit. Her pregnancy and it’s issues often dictates where this care takes place. Women have a lot of access to information and professional care if they choose to access it. The variety of care is often overwhelming and difficult for women to navigate. Many women have become so scared of hospitals and obstetric dictated care that they seek “Free birth”.  To deliver without professional help.

This choice would seem strange to the Sudanese lady who seeks any help at all.  The statistics support the lady from Sudan.  Mother’s are much safer with a trained birth attendant. But there is a rider here. That trained attendant needs to be able to work with the woman where she is in her mind, in her body and in her pregnancy. Yes professionals have the expertise based on research and shared knowledge but we need to use it with compassion and care. We should not dictate to the women in our care. We should work “with them”. This is very challenging when pregnancy and birth does not follow a natural path and intervention is required. But there is a place for understanding where she and her partner are in the situation and working with them to make the best choices.

If I were to be named the Patron Saint of anything in 300 years it is because I did my best to work with Women, Midwives and Obstetricians to help them understand the concept of being “with woman” during pregnancy and childbirth wherever they are in the world..  


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