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Hello, Goodbye: Midwives, Birth, and Death

by Cassie Moore, ACNM Writer and Editor

If you read the spring issue of Quickening, ACNM’s quarterly member newsletter, you probably came across certified nurse-midwife Leslie Ludka’s fabulous article, “What Birth Teaches Us about Death” (click to read and get a sneak peek at our members-only publication!)

In the space of a year, Leslie lost her mother, as well as her ex-husband (who remained her close friend). Around the same time, she caught her granddaughter. Drawing from her experiences, Leslie’s article explored how the skills that midwives learn in their work—devotional watching, being a calm presence, sitting together, talking and listening, sharing silence, healing touch, and honoring requested rituals—are also very valuable in end-of-life or hospice care. The article really struck a chord with our members; Leslie said she got a large and heartfelt response to it.

She was onto something—The Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, CO, recently published an in-depth article about how some midwives are moving into hospice care. Teresa Robertson, CNM, is interviewed about her career shift from midwifery to her decision to become a case manager with Family Hospice in Boulder, where she assists and advises families and patients who are planning a death. The reporter, Aimee Heckel,also draws an interesting parallel between giving birth at home and dying at home.

“While the popularity of home births continues to grow, so is the choice of home deaths—and even home funerals and burials, although this latter movement remains relatively rare. Both home-based options have battled legal hurdles, societal stigmas, and safety concerns.”

Have you ever thought about working in hospice care? How has your midwifery training and experience helped you or your loved ones deal with death?

Posted 8/16/2011 9:08:47 AM



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