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Thread: Can Midwifery be taught?

  1. #1

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    Default Can Midwifery be taught?

    I am wondering...

    Do you think you have to go through it, or can you learn it? I am half and half...



    I am just in shock that there were 20 people accepted into my course to do the dual Bachelor Nursing and Bachelor Midwifery, two of us are "mature age" and have had children....and the rest are all school leavers that want to do midwifery "because they think babies are soooooo cute" (Their words... not mine.)

    The other day, we are talking about birth...when no one could give a brief description of the function of the placenta - like what is the placenta- they didn't even know what a placenta was. The other million dollar question was "what does gestation mean?" O-M-G. How much more basic do you want to get?

    I kinda feel sorry for the ladies that have been through birth and really want to give future mothers the support they need by becoming a midwife... as I think the field really needs it. Not to say that these things can't be learnt, I feel they can only if someone has researched it thouroughly..but that is just how I feel.

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    Yeah, sure it can. I had a very young trainee mid and she was lovely.
    I totally get the "babies are cute" thing. My eyes would have been rolling all day long - were yours?
    I would like to think these girls researched what it was they wanted to do a bit more than that....

    I hope it doesn't slow your lectures if you end up with bluudy questions like the gestation one. omg!

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    I do think it can be taught, much like any learned skill, but they have to want to learn. My last two midwives were young and childless, but they were absolutely wonderful - better than the older midwife I had with my first. I can understand your frustration though - I feel the same sometimes since I started my nursing degree this year. They should know about things like the placenta and gestation from high school science! But it is early days yet, and these girls will soon learn what being a midwife is really about - and some of them may decide it is not what they want to do after all. Those that truly want to be there will give it their all.

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    I guess the biggest thing is..... everyone has to start somewhere. Whether they are young people or even mature age who have never had kids, as well as parents of all ages. There was a stage where you once knew nothing about pregnancy or birth at all as well!

    I do get what you mean though, I am doing a few human services subjects this semester, and they are trying to 'teach' open-mindedness and compassion and you just wonder sometimes if its something that can be taught... though like anything I guess it is definately a skill that can be acquired. Plus some of the most daft questions I've heard IN MY LIFE!!!

    Just remember to breathe and think... they have to start somewhere! Even the best midwives once knew nothing! And sometimes its better for someone to enter a profession NOT thinking they know everything about it and just need to do this for a piece of paper to show people IKYWIM... naive and clueless students can often be a lot more open and receptive to new things, whereas those who think they know it all usually close themselves off to new experiences because they think they know what they need to and don't need to experience.

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    I think it can, but I really think you need a good dose of passion and not just a 'ooooh babies are soooo cute' mentality. This country is crying out for midwives, but we need great ones, ones who are sensitive to a birthing womans needs. I would worry that some of the ones who are 'taught' to be midwives will be become products of the 'system' they learn through.

  6. #6

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    I definitely think Midwifery can be taught. With my fourth child I had a youngish midwife who had only been out in the field 6 months and did not have chldren of her own and she was brilliant, so good in fact that she inspired me to start my degree, which sadly after 2yrs I was unable to complete due to various reasons.
    In the year I started training only a 1/4 of the class were mothers and those that weren't were all in their mid 20's or younger. I have kept in contact with alot of my class and most of them have gone on to be brilliant midwives.
    I think if it is an area that you are passionate about and willing to give 100% to then it can be taught like most other things.

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    It can be taught.

    I myself started mid when i was 23 and had no kids (i did know a fair bit having a mum who is a midwife) granted i did mid after i had done nursing and worked for a few years, but some of the direct entry mid girls are the most caring supportive midwives you can ask for.

    A lot of being a midwife has to do with your personality and traits anyone can be taught to catch a baby but mid is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much more than that you need to be a counsellor, good listener, advoacte, sholder to cry on and so much more, the birth is such a tiny insignificant part of the whole process of pregnancy.

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    I think it can. I've had both good and bad experiences with young midwives and also with older ones. I really think it has more to do with the person and their natural empathy for others than their own personal experience.

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    I can totally understand your frustration re: the "babies are soo cute" comments and the fact that some did not know what Gestation & Placenta meant. It does make you wonder whether some of these girls really have the calling to be a midwife cause if so, would't they have already learn't some of this fairly basic stuff just out of general interest?

    As Feeb said though, I definately do believe it can be learn't. But is does take a special kind of person to be a midwife. There are many good midwives out there - young and old but there are also too many crappy ones too, and age does not seem to discriminate there. . .

  10. #10
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    I have um'ed and aah'ed about answering this thread for awhile. I don't think that midwifery can be taught. I think it is something you learn by sitting at the feet of women, again and again and again. So many BMid and RN/RM's know nothing. They know how to control women, they know how to prime a line quickly and they can do drug calculations in a split second, but are they midwives? Nup. Hopefully some of those younger midwives will mature as they work within the hospital system to see that the vast majority of things that happen are not ok, and they certainly aren't midwifery.

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    I don't really like the idea that midwifery and for that matter nursing are a 'calling', they are professions like any other that have standards of education and practice that need to be met. Historically, this idea of vocationalism in nursing and midwifery has contributed to the low rates of pay and poor working conditions that nurses and midwives have put up with forever - the idea that since these occupations are "callings" there is an element of sacrifice for the common good involved and therefore there is no need to provide adequate financial remuneration, because then (god forbid) people might start going into the profession 'for the money'. This is then evidenced in the fact that people are leaving the profession in droves - this is not a new phenonmenon, Australia has experienced shortages in nursing and midwifery since the professions began.

    Of course I do believe that to work in either of these professions you need a certain level of emotional maturity and empathy for the people you work with - but this is something you gain with age and experience. None of us are born with these attributes - we gain them with life experience and education. Many women find with having children that they gain a real understanding of this and that they want to help others through becoming a midwife or nurse, others don't need to have children to know that they want to enter a certain profession - and you don't necessarily need to know the ins and outs of the job to want to do it. That is what education and training is for. Of course there is the argument that for a midwife to truly be able to understand and empathise with the mothers she cares for, she needs to have become a mother and been through labour herself. Certainly this experience will perhaps change her outlook and deepen her empathy, but I don't think that it is really necessary for her to be able to be good at her job and look after her patients. Nurses and doctors do not need to have experienced the illnesses or injuries of the people they care for to be able to adequately treat them and care for them.

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    You know, when I first brought this up it was the day after one of the main doctors on RPA was interveiwed after his brain surgery, he said straight out that if he knew then what he knows now after being a patient, he would be a much better doctor. It just got me thinking (as well as the teens in my class that wanted to midwifery "because babies are sooooo cute which still makes me laugh and luch time talk of who is "partying' on the weekend!!)
    Thanks for the replies!

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    I was going to do the double degree when i did my nursing. I decided against it for a couple of reasons, but the main one being becasue i had not had a baby and i didnt ever want someone screaming what would i know (probably i was thinking more ruder than that) in the throws of labour... I wish i had done it now though

    Also both my midwives while in labour with Molly Jane had not had babies - they were both brilliant... I guess i have never had a brain tumour or a neurological problem, but everyday (well when i was working) i would take people through what was happening and empathise with the patient and family...

    It takes a special person to be a good nurse - regardless of the field, if you are passionate about it and can empathise i reckon you can do it well...

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    Great topic - I love it!

    I am a nurse and have never had an amputation but have 'nursed' amputees. Never had a brain tumour and have compassionately and empathetically (and of course skillfully & professionally) nursed patients with tumours...

    Living something (eg the dr on RPA) gives us a richer understanding. But it's our understanding. You could have a midwife with 4 kids but all were c/sections or epidurals etc etc and you want a water birth... She isn't going to "get you" from her own experience but she may from her professional experience

    So, yes it's a skill that can be taught. The compassion, empathy and the "spirit" that comes with it happens over time and experience - I believe...

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    Dunno.
    I too am a nurse and have nursed people in situations I've never experienced. Being a nurse is not about kudos, money or conditions, that's for sure. It's in your heart. You have to really want to do that job. It's one of those jobs that as soon as you tell people what you do, they've got a complaint about the profession, but one I was proud to announce. I trained a long time ago and I remember students dropping out left right and centre as they began to understand what it was really about. But I was one of those teens too. It was in my heart and I loved it and gave everything I had, until i couldn't give anymore. I'm one of those defectors for reasons other than the pay/conditions/kudos. But in my heart I will always be a nurse. I have full intentions of going back - when I feel ready.

    Howeve in my "new "profession, the similarities are striking. I'm a cop. i work with young cops and sometimes they get screamed at at domestics too cos what would they know? I'm older, but i'd never experienced a domestic until i joined the cops. I'm a good policeman and a champion at domestics. But I agree with the others when they say it's all about the ability to be professional and use the skills you've been taught but still use empathy and understanding. I work with young guys at the moment who still have P plates for goodness sake. But they're top of the line and I'd trust them with my life. Both for their skills and what's in their heart.

    I'm sure your young mates will figure out in time if it's for them or not....though I'm old school and still think you should have to train and work as a sister for so many years before being unleashed on the maternity ward.

    Sorry that was a ramble wasn't it?

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    I think it's a calling. You have to have it "in your bones" and if you have that, yes I think the rest can be taught.

    Even once a midwife has had a baby, her birth is unique to her and she still hasn't experienced every scenario that childbirth can throw her way firsthand. She still has to go to work and support women through labours that are nothing like her own.

    I've heard this question asked alot about doulas as well - some clients do ask if you've had children yourself and what sort of births you had - while I respect that they want to ask and there is some relevance there, at the end of the day what happens in a clients birth can very well be something I have never experienced firsthand in my own births anyway. Yet I still have the empathy and the skills to support them through that. And I think it's the same for midwives.

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