As a student midwife, I had struggled whether to share my Leela postpartum story. I eventually did on my old blog, but I am resharing it here, as there is a local birth center that was recently shut down, and it’s got this flowing in me.
I will share the story later, because after everything that happened and well over a year having passed, I can still say, THIS WAS WRONG.
I know within the midwifery community, it may be taboo to share our story, especially because I was a student midwife and for some reason was quietly expected by other midwives (and outright commanded by my own) to keep hushed about what happened.
In fact, a few months after this happened, I shared our story with a local online community of natural Momma’s, who often rely on midwifery care for their home births. Several midwives privately requested the moderator to remove my story – to silence my voice and the situation that happened to my family.
Then I received an email from my midwife, stating that if I shared anymore information about what happened, that she would contact her attorney.
I find this slightly amusing for one reason, because the midwifery community as a whole “supports women and their voice/choice for safe care.” That a couple of midwives and my own midwife asked for my voice to be silenced, about an unsafe, unstable, and scary happening with a midwife… the irony is not lost on me.
I also find it disturbing for that same reason, and another… I have had many moments where this realization has made me want to retch: As a secondary survivor from the molestation of my first child, I felt the same similar feeling… those that are victimized should keep their mouths shut.
While I shared my blog post with the story, I did not openly share the name or area of service (I will now – it was the Kansas City area) for the midwife who I looked to for care while pregnant with Leela, but asked if this story had been shared with them in person, if these women would want to know who the midwife was. The women of the forum wanted to know, every single woman that responded to the thread, so they could avoid her completely. I shared in private messages, those who asked to know. It totaled about 40 women, but that was just in about 1 day, before the moderator chose to silence me with apologies, “because we don’t know both sides of the story and she cannot speak about her side.”
I did understand the awkward place sharing the story had put the moderator in, yet I clearly saw the awkwardness having been created by the midwife, not the client who was expressing what happened and warning others of a drastic problem area for a specific midwife.
Turning for a moment to the doctoral community, we have websites in which patients can openly talk about the kind of care they received from specific doctors. They can openly discuss horrific events, botched surgeries, and other issues that were not handled correctly or ethically. We can, without shame, have public reviews of the doctors which we entrusted with our care. Websites like HealthGrades (this does not allow for comments as the other two do, but people can still rate their quality of care), Rate MDs, and Vitals.
So, why is this resisted by the midwifery community in general?
Within the midwifery community, giving public evaluations/reviews for amazing or terrible service are made a problem for two reasons, that I can see. One outside of the sphere of midwifery and one within.
The first reason being, that midwifery has been a fight to get back into the public eye, with government agencies constantly trying to violate women’s rights for safe care in a home (trying instead, to force us into hospitals).
Many state governments make it “illegal” for any midwives to care for women who personally choose them to care for them while pregnant and during labor. There are underground, excellent midwives who want to help and bless families, but have to maintain a low profile because an educated woman choosing a midwife for a safe birth at home – puts that midwife in jeopardy, even when the birth goes smoothly (as it usually does). Reviews for midwives in states where midwifery is illegal would make this a witch-hunting ground.
Terrible reviews of midwives within states where midwifery is legal, could, unfortunately, put midwifery in legal jeopardy. Midwifery scares Big Medicine-paid politicians and creates an atmosphere for midwifery, of waiting for good state laws to fall apart. These are very real reasons to want to prevent public reviews and evaluations, within the midwifery community mindset.
“The path to hell is paved with good intentions.”
The second reason midwifery reviews will be resisted by some (or perhaps many) midwives is for the same reason that doctors aren’t too appreciative of it, either. It can turn business away, even when a doctor or midwife hasn’t done anything wrong health-wise, ethically, or morally. Business can turn slightly with a simple mention of, “I don’t feel like they really listened to me.”
The only time this would become an issue for safe doctors or midwives is when, frankly, they may not be the best that they could be, and don’t want to bother learning to adjust something that becomes a regular, simple complaint. Like listening to their patients or spending adequate time with them.
The doctors and midwives who do drastic, terrible things that put someone in a place that they feel their story needs to be heard – they would need to worry, but for some serious reasons that could possibly lead to legal action against them (and perhaps in some cases, should).
Otherwise, the reviews will be mediocre or excellent, with comments being glowing or non-existent. I have never felt compelled to tell people about midline doctors – only the excellent or the terrible – though I am sure there are folks out there that would be willing to comment that a doctor was just average/nothing special.
Do midwives who resist public, open review believe they should be upheld from honest review, even when doctors are not immune from it? Or does the midwifery community really believe there are so many other, terrible midwives out there, that they will drag down all midwives?
“Pride goes before destruction, haughtiness before a fall.” ~ Proverbs 16:18
There is much understanding from me, that even if there were an openness in the midwifery community to have a review site, there would be issues that would arise for both the midwife and the client.
I honestly believe that those issues could be cared for with some checks and balances, while still maintaining a clients confidentiality if they wished to keep it, and protect midwives who did nothing wrong physically, ethically, or morally.