Fighting Midwife Apathy

I have realised that blogging takes you on a quite a journey of discovery. The doors open for meeting so many like-minded people. It’s so inspiring to find midwives and birth advocates who feel just like my group of friends here in South Australia. The world and cyberspace is full of us! I am gutted that it’s taken me this long to get to grips with it. Prior to this my efforts have been limited to the wonderful forum Joyous birth and the totally mediocre Ozmid group. I have occasionally tried and been deleted from numerous other forums but have always stuck it out on these.

Ozmid is an Australian mailing list where midwives chitty chat about their experience and express opinion on news and views about birth. I often become down hearted about the medicalisation of birth by those who are the birth keepers in this country. It makes me totally furious to hear midwives say they are doing their best with what they have. BEST how can best be letting your client plan a hospital birth and then let the hospital do all the procedures they like. If they want that sort of care they can rock up to any hospital and they will get it.


I see the role of a midwife as protector and birth space keeper. In this country midwives believe that even when directly employed by the woman they are just supporters and friends when they enter the system. What a load of bunkum. As a midwife I am paid by the woman to advocate her birth choices and keep her informed of everything that could potentially happen. I am a midwife. I don’t lose my mind when I enter the hospital, they are just 4 walls. I don’t stop getting paid by the client either. It is my absolute job to be the best midwife I can at all times. So, I can’t do a blood pressure or write in the official notes. Who the hell would want to.

As a midwife I would of course transfer to the hospital if necessary but I choose in the main not to attend planned hospital birth. The information I have proves to me that hospital birth is risky and unless you have a serious problem you really shouldn’t be there.

Occasionally I have worked with women who have planned a hospital birth. For example, I helped a woman who’s baby was found on ultrasound to be seriously ill; although this turned out to be a mistake she didn’t know this until after so felt a birth at the hospital was necessary. I do my homework take in a plan, talk to the hospital and make it as clear as I can what my client requires for her care and what she does not. This isn’t something you can leave to chance.

I have a big problem with not speaking up when midwives fall in line with the system but feel that just by being there they are making it better. THEY AREN’T. Compromising your clients wish for a great birth isn’t our role. Keeping the space is.


This brings me back to Ozmid. I am often told that I’m rude and critical by the midwives who do the same as their colleagues. The group is made up of midwives who play by the rules but label themselves differently and look up to others who do the same thing. I don’t fit in. I look up to the birthing woman, her ability, her energy, and I trust birth.

I stopped writing there recently as I was extremely pissed off and although still reading have kept myself silent. Had to struggle on a few occasions due to their overwhelming smug and mediocre attitudes but now I’m over it. I don’t know if I want to write or not.

Most of the midwives think that group practice work isn’t the hospital. God help us all.

6 responses to “Fighting Midwife Apathy”

  1. Pamela

    I’m glad you’re here, I’m glad you’re outspoken and I’m especially grateful that you are a midwife that stands by women and families.


  2. Tania

    Ah Lisa…wise women were once burnt at the stake for their passion and belief…it is with a heavy heart that I read that list and it is so much less the rich and meaningful without you there…but I completely understand. It’s as though a couple of us are just from another planet. God help the women who have ideas that differ from the ‘mainstream’ when midwives are persecuted and margianalised by our own for the same thing…what chance do they have???

    I see myself as a learner in this game of being strong enough to speak it as it is…your mentorship and living by example is so valuable to those of us who wish to truly trust birth…


  3. goodgracie

    And it was thanks to your skill, lateral thinking and advocacy that Milla was born naturally in spite of the considerable odds against us in hospital. Not to mention some ludicrous behaviour by the hospital midwife, who had never seen a woman give birth standing up, let alone a brow presentation baby! She wouldn’t have been able to help me get that baby out in a million years.


  4. Lisa Barrett

    I think it had way more to do with you than me goodgracie but thanks. I’m lucky to have women like you to inspire me. Can’t believe your reading. ;)

  5. I am Brooke...

    Please don’t stop posting at places like OzMid.
    Your posts are like a breath of fresh air.
    Who else will remind midwives who work in the oppressive baby machine what true midwifery really means?

    Your place on that list is as a shining beacon to the real midwives who care to learn.

    x B

  6. Janet

    I too struggle with the unaddressed power struggle that some midwives want to have with their clients and with each other. If, as you posit, we simply put women and their rights in birth foremost, then there is no power struggle. Birth is about women, babies and families nothing else.

    When we start buying the crap the system sells by slavish adherence to protocol over service, we cease to provide midwifery and become the handmaidens of surgeons.
    Thank you for being a role model.