Thursday, February 24, 2011

RambleRant: "Midwife" just doesn't cut it anymore

A friend came out the other day with an idea for a directory of LDS birth workers, after reading this article over at The Gift of Giving Life.  From her Facebook Note:

I would really like to see a directory/registry/list of LDS doulas, midwives and childbirth educators that is shared on the internet for LDS women to refer to as they are looking for maternity care. In a way, it would bring back a little bit of the community that once existed in the church with Relief Society sisters literally providing relief during some of the most important and hard work of a Mormon woman's life.
I am completely on board with that idea, and there's been some discussion on how to do it, what to call it (Birthing in Zion seems to be fairly settled), and things like that.  I rang in with my (shocking!) suggestion to add prenatal massage therapists and infant massage instructors to the list, as well.  There is a whole slew of different fields related to birth that it would be wonderful to get listed in one place, all under the heading of "birth workers".

Birth workers.


I don't really like that term.  Yes, it's descriptive and accurate and it's a good umbrella term, but I find it very boring and PC and dry-sounding.  Midwives used to be the encapsulation of baby catcher/herbalist/doula/lactation consultant/childbirth educator/therapist/etc. as far as there were such things.  Granted, doulas were once the community of childbearing women around you, and chances were that you already knew a great deal about childbirth and breastfeeding because they were a part of regular life that wasn't hidden away behind hospital doors, blankets, or--Heaven forbid--bathroom doors.  (Ew.)  But if you did need the extra help, or you didn't have many examples in your life of child-bearing, midwives were there.  Now, the term still applies to the same sort of job, but there are numerous related fields that branch off of it, and the umbrella term is really unsatisfying.

The issue gets compounded somewhat when, like many people I know, a birth worker multiplies their talents and expands their knowledge.  Imagine a party...

"Nice to meet you.  What do you do?"
"I'm a CPA."

You now know this person handles money, finances, and taxes.
"I'm a CD, IBCLC, CPMT, CEIM, and CBE."

Unless you've come across a very Mom-and-baby-savvy accountant, you lost them right about "LC", because they're still thinking 'Compact Disc? IBC Root Beer?'  Once their eyes have glazed over, it's too late to explain that you're a Certified Doula, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist, Certified Educator of Infant Massage, and Childbirth Educator.  And alas, while "birth worker" is descriptive, it's still fairly confusing in a society where most people think of that as "OB/GYN, or L&D or NICU nurse".  (Letters, letters everywhere!)  I guess the confusion is a good conversation piece, but I find people are still perplexed by the whole notion.

I'm not sure I'm up to coining a new umbrella term, myself.  It takes a lot of consideration, possibly even digging into other languages (a la "doula"), and it wouldn't really change the "you do what?" part of conversations.  "Doula" has been around for a few decades now and it's just starting to become a word that people recognize and understand, though I still get a lot of people with quizzical looks and "Oh... How'd you get into that?"  There's also the fact that even a new umbrella term wouldn't simplify the multiple certification issue at all, and would just give you one more level of necessary explanation.

So, alas, I can't have everything.  But wouldn't it be nice?

"I'm a ___________."
"That's wonderful! You must love babies and moms."

I do.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

No comments:

Post a Comment