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The Kindness of Strangers

by Kimla McDonald, CNM, Guest Blogger

One day, I may be a grandmother. I may see one of my children become a parent. If it is my daughter, I may want to go with her to her prenatal visits, to see her face as she hears the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, and to remember how it was when she was still an unknown desired presence inside of my body.

If invited, or implored, I might offer advice or information. Because I know that if I don’t, there are 5000 pregnant women out there on a pregnancy Web site and chat forum who are only too eager to weigh in:

Morning sickness at work? Don’t use the bathroom on your floor. Dress in layers, and keep mints and almonds at your desk. Zofran.

I can’t stop chewing ice! Ask your midwife to check your iron level, you may be deficient.

Does anyone else feel like their mom is taking over the pregnancy? (I don’t even want to read these replies).

And on and on, endless queries and responses. You can search and find almost anything you’d like to know about in the guise of another person’s question or dilemma and the proposed solutions and hopeful advice of many interested strangers. You can find the perfect stroller, nanny, breast pump, or pregnancy test.

For midwives, it’s like a whole prenatal education system is growing like kudzu right under our noses. Seldom is there enough time during prenatal visits with our pregnant clients to address every concern and question. Our patients take their unanswered questions home and ask their moms and aunts and cousins who’ve had babies.

Like a community, this anonymous advice reminds our patients that there are many pregnant women out there whose backs hurt just like theirs, whose sleepless nights are full of the worries shared by all (when will my water break? How can I afford a child? Will giving birth hurt as much as they tell me it will? Where did these stretch marks come from?)

Contributing to this virtual common wisdom is something midwives need to do more of. Write articles, speak to local organizations, post your research findings, and make sure that women are aware that if answers seem elusive, they can always ask a midwife.

Kimla McDonald, CNM, is a practicing full-time CNM at a private practice in Annapolis, MD, doing both birth center and hospital births. McDonald started out as a doula in San Francisco, became an apprentice to a homebirth midwife in New Orleans, then finished her studies for midwifery in the DC metro area. She has also worked as a documentary film producer, landscape architect, nonprofit fund raiser, and worked for several years with the Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington, DC, producing educational conferences on nutrition and alternative and complementary medicine. She has studied yoga, traditional Chinese medicine, Healing Touch, and nutrition.

Posted 4/18/2012 11:22:33 AM



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