It is no secret that Jodilyn and I are completely and utterly committed to vaginal birth after caesarean. We believe in the right to birth your baby vaginally, whether in your own home, a hospital, a field, hanging from a trapeze…you get the idea. We believe in intentional birth, one that is the fulfillment of carefully considered thought and soul work, and not one forced into an impersonal mold by circumstances. In short, we believe that everyone has the right to birth the way they see fit.
Only, what happens when you can’t? We have been so lucky here in Seattle, because while the actual number of providers doing vbacs has remained fairly low, there has traditionally been a nice mixture of types of providers. We have homebirth midwives, hospital midwives, family practice doctors, obstetricians, and even a few perinatologists. Unfortunately this has changed radically over the past year.
Hospital midwives who do vbac are in short supply here in the greater Seattle area, and getting shorter. We have lost two major midwifery groups, and one extremely popular independent practitioner. We now have only two hospital midwifery groups in Seattle proper who do vbacs, and one of those are severely restricted due to insurance limitations. While we do have many doctors who deliver vbac babies, they are, in fact doctors. They may be delightful people, but they practice under many limitations, some self imposed, some practice or hospital based, and some pushed upon them by insurance companies and malpractice issues. They are not midwives.
And midwifery care IS the answer here. If anyone needs the focused care and tender compassion of a midwife, it is the vbac-ing mother. The long office visits, the search for answers from her last pregnancy, the wading through pages and pages of safety studies…these are not the exclusive territory of homebirth midwives. It is the right of ALL midwives, regardless of where they serve, to hold a woman as the tears come during prenatal visits, to flush with anger alongside her for indignities done, and questions left unanswered. ALL midwives should be privileged to wipe the sweat from a laboring vbac-ing mama’s face, to bring her water, to sing to her softly in the tub. And ALL midwives should have the opportunity to discover the humility and strength that reside in their souls in a way that is only possible when they stand silent in the birthing space, the one solitary being who truly and absolutely believes in this mother, body and spirit.
It is honor beyond measure to attend these women in their most creative time. And I am so sad for the midwives who are being denied this. I want our sisters back.