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Sharing Our Strength

by Nancy Jo Reedy, CNM, MPH, FACNM

Recently, a conversation about self-care on the ACNM clinical management listserv provided some food for thought. What do we need to do to take care of ourselves so that we can be positive, contributing, and effective midwives? How do we care for ourselves and each other? Do we not have a responsibility to strengthen each of us in our areas of practice? 

I believe a midwife is always and forever a midwife. No matter where she/he is working—health department, the research department of a medical products company, a federal agency—all are midwives. Do we support them with the same appreciation and enthusiasm that we do with a midwife who sees patients in the office and takes calls? Midwives need, deserve, and have earned the support of every other midwife. Taking care of ourselves means both respecting ourselves and passing that respect and encouragement to every other midwife regardless of his/her current role. Is there any role that cannot include advocacy for women? Is there any role that cannot be used to communicate the contribution of midwives? We are all committed to the care of women and we need each of us in our sphere of practice and influence to make that care happen.

My personal example of this concept has to do with home birth. Much of my career has been devoted to women with high-risk problems—including those requiring fetal surgery. Home birth is fine, but not for me. Several months ago, a state regulatory committee decided to review the issue of reimbursement for home birth. I was the only midwife at the meeting. This hospital-based, high-risk population midwife had to morph into a home birth advocate in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, after initial discussion, we decided I would “gather data and revisit the issue at the next meeting.” I was saved—and given time to contact colleagues around the country who provided the information, data, and encouragement I needed for the next meeting. At the second meeting, I was ready to be the most unlikely home birth advocate in midwifery history! I am happy to have the opportunity to advocate for CNMs/CMs who do home birth; after all, they have supported those of us choosing the hospital as a practice site for many years. Mutual support, respect, and encouragement serve women and midwives best.

Taking care of ourselves as individuals and, more importantly, as a profession is essential to our growth. We require the support of each other for our wellbeing and effectiveness. Respect and support will serve midwives well and ultimately serve women and society. Sign up for the clinical management or other listservs at

Posted 1/17/2012 12:55:04 PM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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