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Discussion of Poverty Mentality

in all areas

So, the anonymous comment to my business owning rant says I clearly believe that midwives are supposed to give and give and give until the wither up and blow away.

I answer that I do not believe that at all, but that I find it is THE mentality of the midwifery community. I decided to take this article to the blog itself. Here come the examples.

(While just saying I am hyperbolic, I also understand when not to be. I am not being hyperbolic here.)

- Women come to midwives and express disbelief that we would charge them at all for anything. They want to know how we got "jaded" and have the gall to ask for money for something that's supposed to be a "calling."

- Women come to me/us at the end of their pregnancy and want a discount on services because of their indecision or realization of their needs or even that they just moved and need a midwife. It doesn't matter that we double up prenatal visit times, expend even more energy trying to get the whole picture of the woman and the dynamics of her family so trust can be built both ways, re-arranging schedules, finding an assistant and back-up, etc. Most midwives feel they work twice as hard when awoman comes in the third trimester. I concur.

- Women with PLENTY of money haggle for discounts FAR FAR FAR more than women who scrape money together for a doula or midwife. Women who are motivated to have a home birth, find a way to pay - even if it is $5 a month until the kid turns 18. Or barters. It's telling when a woman hems and haws on the phone even before meeting a midwife, trying to bargain down the price with whatever circumstances they can conjur - but I might not call you - but what if you just sit there - but what if you don't bring an assistant - but our insurance doesn't cover it - but we just bought a new car - but but but.

- UCers want to know if I/we will come if they need help - long labor, pitocin, antibiotics, suturing - yet are aghast that we'd charge for those services that take us out of our homes with NO knowledge the call is coming in, take time to drive, time to be there (away from something else or some other client), use our supplies, counsel, most certainly make postpartum visits, and do paperwork that often includes securing a birth certificate. How can this be so strange?

The Sears guy comes out to work on the dishwasher and has to go get a part from the shop and charges every second out of his vehicle and "on the job" - the doctor walks in, yacks for 2.5 minutes and leaves - and yet, no one bats an eye! (well, many certainly complain, but it doesn't change anything) Midwives offer so much more! Even to a UCer who needs some help.

It is in our experiences (not all, I am sure, but these are common discussions in midwifery and consumer groups) that we have the belief that we are expected to give and give and give. It isn't MY belief, it is that of the pregnant woman (generalization).

Midwives are not valued in our culture. Midwives are romantisized. It is half the reason the majority of apprentices fall by the wayside. It's a WHOLE lot different imagining the beauty of staring at a newborn baby in his mama's arms vs. being on your hands and knees scrubbing blood out of the carpet with a bottle of peroxide or sitting in a tiny room with a woman and her mean husband for 17 hours.

I believe when we are valued, and certainly that valuation begins at home, then the issue of money won't be so damn hard to bring up, discuss, or cultivate.

Thanks for saying something, Anon.

Reader Comments (5)

Thanks for your courage to:

1. Speak your truth, despite your fear of being misunderstood.

2. Take the time to explain and clarify your thoughts if they have been misunderstood.

I have shared your struggle of not being paid for the work I am doing. In my experience what I found is once I made my expectation clear to my employer, I am no longer working for free, I started getting paid! The money didn't dry up, it started flowing into my account. Not in large volumes mind you, but I no longer was working for free unless it was my choice.

Your work is clearly valuable and I consider all work an exchange of energy. In our society the most common way to exchange energy is through monetary means.

Have you thought of PayPal? If someone seeks your counsel via e-mail or phone you can direct them to PayPal and send them a bill and set an appt. Maybe that isn't for you, just a thought though.

Take care and thank-you for clarifying your feelings on the topic. I would hate to think anything I said would supress your comfort in expressing yourself.

September 6, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

rah, rah!

I'm all for doing a sliding scale and free births, but more times than not, I'm realizing that midwives do free births not really because a family absolutely cannot pay anything but because she undervalues herself.

September 6, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSage Femme

I find blogging a "safe" place to discuss these hard issues. In email, sometimes I'll feel threatened, and definitely in lists, but here, it feels like "my" space, even though we all share it together. Kind of like laboring at home vs. laboring in the hospital, I think.

PayPal has been mentioned several times. Once I get the whole picture of what I would charge for, I think it's a grand idea.

Why is it taking so long to figure this part out? Will a degree change this?

And I *do* know my work is valuable, but I see the pay in different ways than Sarah does. I see it in long-term goodwill, good word-of-mouth, and beautiful thoughts through the air of the world. But, the word-of-mouth keeps getting louder and more frequent.

I want to know how other midwives do this... other popular midwives. I just got re-active on RMA and might toss this out to them.

I have to run to school. More later today!

September 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife


Where I am independent midwives are hard to find and are expensive. However, as far as I am aware the cost is non-negotiable and women either make the sacrifices to pay the fee or go without midwifery care. We have made sacrifices in order for me to have homebirths and the care that I want. We may have to become a carless family of six after the next birth but if that is what it takes....

September 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRachele

Homebirth moms often look to the birth at home as "the whole point". In my area the birth is "free" what you pay for is the pre/postnatal care. so even if you transfer or risk out the fee is essentially the same. poeple see paying for a midwife to get a homebirth. The chance to be out that money if it doesn't happen is a big risk to swallow for some people.

September 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterdoulamom

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