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Finding Balance in Birth Work

Midwifery is the oldest profession since the beginning of time. The elders have shared their experiences through interviews in many of my favorite books. Stories of true struggle and dedication. A calling for most. But an unwanted calling, for many. The role of midwife came with so many challenges that had nothing to do with catching babies. These challenges included the hostile political and racial climate for black midwives and the personal demands of the physical and emotional work required to show up for women. Midwifery is trending. So many women are aspiring to be midwives and doulas, which is AMAZING. However, these roles are often romanticized as this beautiful fairytale-like image of going from house to house catching babies with ease, fully energized, no pain, all happy moments of families smiling and midwives assessing healthy newborns and playing with placentas. I just want to scream from the mountaintop…"Hold up! Wait one minute! LET ME GIVE YOU THE REAL TEA SIS!” I absolutely love the enthusiasm a fresh energy. But it takes some finessing to be able to continue in that same spirit. Truth is, the work of midwifery is not always unicorns and rainbows. It can down right be ugly, painful, exhausting and sad. My own sisters in birth work (physicians too) all have the same challenges and painful experiences in this profession. Regardless of the setting in which they service women, we all share the same issues. Burn out, frustration, isolation, overwhelm. We all feel it.

If you have been following me on social media, you know I keep it very REAL. My passion for and devotion to midwifery is strong and deep. It's so deep that I have at some point allowed midwifery to dominate my life. I have to schedule time off and plan family trips a year in advance. But I also have to be spontaneous and make the most of "off call" time whenever it may pop up. As birth professionals, we have accepted that fact that we may miss our family's birthdays, holidays and other special events. Even when I am present with my family, I may still be "on call", which makes it difficult to be fully present because I'm always anticipating a call or text from a client. I have not had the luxury of working along side a partner in my business to share call time, so this just comes with the territory. I wouldn't call it this model ideal. But I can say that not too many midwives who work in the hospital have the desire to come into the home birth setting. And I get it! It ain't for everybody. I am thankful for having a circle of home birth midwife sisters that I can call on for support, motivation and encouragement, both professionally and personally.

It took me 8 years of solo, home birth midwifery to finally take a good assessment of my life and what I needed to change. What I found is that I have overextended myself trying to please and accommodate clients' needs. I think as independent birth professionals, we tend to do this, blindly. Because we are determined and committed to pleasing and protecting our clients and their experiences. That's why I call midwifery and birth work "heart work". We are led by our hearts and we are so emotionally invested in our clients' experiences that we put our own well being on the back burner, which can be damaging. What I have learned is that in order to find some sense of balance, change is necessary. Modifying your business model is necessary to maintain and grow. That's the beauty of owning your own business, you have the luxury of making adjustments when necessary. Even if you are a birth professional working in the hospital setting, you should also prioritize your needs. If you find that your current position isn't in alignment with your personal morals, values and integrity, I would encourage you to begin to make the necessary steps to find a position that you can fulfill without the internal struggle. (Which may look like starting your own business. Sounds scary right? GOOD.)

Finding Balance: "Soul Care Check In" for Birth Professionals

  • Identify your needs: professionally, financially, emotionally, spiritually & physically.

  • Are you neglecting any area of your life?

  • Is your household missing you?

  • Are you making time for your hobbies?

  • When's the last time you've traveled out of the country?

  • Are you making time to engage in your favorite wellness activities?

  • Do you have a self-care routine that is non-negotiable?

  • What does your ideal "job" look like? What would need to happen for it to be attainable?

  • What are you willing to change? What are you willing to sacrifice?

  • How radical are you willing to be in pursuit of your own happiness?

Sit and reflect on these questions and see what is revealed to you. Develop at least 3 goals and begin making baby steps today. Even the smallest action will make a big difference. I promise!

Need a listening ear? Book your "Come to Soul" session with me and let's chat about it.

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