That is the number of home birth midwives we were able to find email addresses for here in the United States. That is less that the number of students who went to my high school. That is roughly one midwife per 50,000 childbearing aged women in the US. And we wonder why midwifery is still not understood or well known!
In contrast, sort of, there are about 43,000 OBGYNs. And even then, there is allegedly an “OBGYN shortage” that people are talking about getting very serious and problematic in the next 15-20 years. I would argue what we have is actually a midwife shortage, and that that is a much easier problem to solve.
A few weeks ago we sent out an email introducing ourselves to those 1375 midwives, sharing a little bit about the Indie Birth Midwifery School, our incredible students, and asking them to fill out a quick form if they resonated with our vision and mission. We are always looking for preceptors to connect our students with, and for cool midwives to come on and guest teach for our school.
395 didn’t even open it.
28 of them filled out our form.
This is simultaneously really sad and also really cool.
It is so sad that these are the numbers we are working with. Most midwives don’t actually care that much about the future of midwifery (ouch, I said it!). So many of them are burned out, and are just trying to get to get their bills paid. And I don’t blame them. This is exactly what “they” wanted. To make midwifery so hard and scary and unsupported that it would just cease to exist. Midwifery has always been an intense role, but adding licensure, rules, legal issues, general cultural hatred, and now midwifery infighting on top of the sleepless nights, life, death and personal relationships, it is sort of just too much. Their campaign to eliminate midwives has worked, and will continue to work unless we do something about it.
When we zoom out of our sweet little home birth communities and lift our heads up from the busy midwife life, it is clear that we are going extinct, and we will be extinct very soon if we don’t have a massive movement towards decentralizing midwifery knowledge, training hundreds of new midwives every year, and collectively standing up to the midwifery industrial complex that is NARM/MEAC/ICM/State licensure.
AND YET I feel so hopeful. Do you see the enormous potential here? With a wave of just 1000 new authentic midwives we would have a majority in the midwifery world. We would be really hard to mess with. We could harness all of our unique talents and strengths and be a force that the history books would say created the turning point towards recentering women in our culture.
We could literally start all 1000 of you on our learning journey tomorrow (we would need to hire a bigger staff, but that would be so effing amazing). And guess what? That would also fund our Indie Birth Sanctuary so we could train all of you, too, even if you couldn’t find a preceptor where you live (which is a real problem especially in rural areas). There are 3,500 subscribers on our aspiring midwife newsletter list because they were thinking about becoming a midwife at some point. Do you feel how powerful that is?
We can do this. You can do this. If you don’t, who will? If not now, then when?
If we care about midwifery continuing to exist in any authentic form, we are all going to have to do our part, even when it is hard or scary.
If you are needing a container to process all of this in, we have the Answering the Call to Radical Midwifery weekend experience coming up again in October with me and Maryn.
Read through the documents below and please let us know what questions come up for you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
– Midwifery Apprenticeship 101 [Read]
– Beginner’s Guide to Radical Midwifery [Take this mini-course]