I have often wished that someone would have a blog or site devoted to midwife-wanna-be’s and midwifery students. Not about education, but about the condition of being a midwifery student or being *called* to midwifery but unable to pursue it currently. In my own path, I’ve come across very little to read or encourage myself while waiting indefinitely. Also, there isn’t a lot for American home birth midwifery students about actually being a student and the issues relevant to actually being a student (there is literature and videos for those in England, for example). There is a growing body of texts about the student-preceptor relationship, which is a part of being a student in home birth midwifery, but it’s not really the same question.
Midwifery and being a midwife is a mixture of science, knowledge, developing intuition, and spirituality and spiritual warfare. So all this bears when one is a student.
I want to talk about the last because I don’t think many talk about this, but I think that actively being involved in childbirth puts a Christian inside a particular sphere where opposing spiritual forces are acting (I think this is true in other professions, too).
(Why is this such a spiritual sphere: I haven’t been able to think very deeply in this topic, honestly, though my life experiences put me in contact with the fuzzy edges of it. Historically, pregnant women (pregnancy itself), the act of childbirth, and small babies seem to be repeatedly attacked. I’m not sure why that is spiritually—but as God is the Creator, and pregnancy is how he creates eternal souls, and possibly going back to the curse of satan about “seed of the woman”– it is something opposed on a foundational level spiritually.)
Here are some examples of what I’m talking about, from the book Mamatoto: A Celebration of Birth by Carroll Dunham and The Body Shop Team, published in 1991, page 81:
“… there are parts of the world today where women’s reproductive rights are controlled by the state. In Romania under Ceausescu’s regime, every woman, married or not, was forced to breed, and produce five children. … scars of frequent illegal abortions (many without proper anesthetics) have left only 5 per cent of Bucharest women of childbearing age with healthy uteruses.
“Tibetans today suffer a chilling form of genocide by the Chinese, who have forcibly occupied their country since 1950. Tibetan women are checked each month for pregnancies. On each neighborhood block in the capital, Lhasa, a female government official monitors menstrual cycles. Any Tibetan female discovered to be pregnanct is taken to the hospital for an abortion. By the end of 1989, 87,000 women had been sterilized in Qinghai province in central Asia. The Chinese government’s terrifying justification of these genocidal practices may be found in its official report on family planning policy: ‘It is much more common to find in their population persons who are mentally retarded, short of statue, dwarfs and insane.’”
Actually wanting to go into this sphere of work is opposed spiritually, and so is the student becoming the midwife God has created her to be. There are a lot of ways to be derailed, deformed, or distracted.
But I don’t think it’s all negative. There are powerful forces of God guiding and protecting women (and consequently their families) who are in this work. I consider how many times I’ve “had a funeral” for this midwifery life calling, how many times I’ve even actively tried to beat this interest and desire out of myself, and I see how God has protected this somehow, even from myself. It gives me hope, a glimpse of God’s power in guiding this process.
In another way of looking at this role and the spiritual elements one encounters:
Midwifery is the skills and actual personality of the midwife actively defending/protecting pregnant women, their births, their young. The essence and skills of midwifery protect those in these natural states; that is also to say, the natural vulnerability of these states needs protection. The physical process needs protection, as does the untouchable parts of pregnancy and birth– the souls and psyches.
But becoming and growing in that protective role is challenging, to say the least.
Somehow, in choosing this profession, one is choosing to try an become capable to face the ideologies, systems, politics, and people that do harm, and, as this deals directly with the creation of new life and eternal souls, it is a spiritual realm with spiritual opposition that one has to directly act in.
This verse below describes part of what a student midwife is becoming–the *heart* and actions– it sounds so sweet and nurturing, and it is. But there’s so much acting and being (the power of skill and philosophy) of the shepherd underneath these small clues: