The Value of Humility

The Value of Humility

This week I have been sharing some of the harder lessons I had to learn to become a midwife.  The value of humility is perhaps the hardest one I faced.

I thought I did approach birth with humility.  I believed I understood the process and knew that the best course of action was to let the labor take it’s course.  Yet, at the same time I failed to see how I approached birth with arrogance.

  • When I would hear labor stories, I would decide for myself what doctors, midwives, doulas and mothers had done wrong despite not being present for the labor.
  • I had answers for every problem a woman might face because natural birth was always possible.
  • I assumed what I knew about birth was not only all there really was to know about birth, but also the most important things to know about birth.

I now approach birth with a different type of humility.

  • I accept that there are things about the human body I do not know or understand.  I accept the ability of others to know and understand those things even if I currently do not.
  • I accept that problems can arise in labor without anyone being at fault.  Babies and placentas can have problems despite the best health of the mother and care of the midwife.
  • I accept that the hands and knees position and a doula cannot possibly be the answer to every problem.
  • I accept that there are multiple ways to respond to a problem and most of them will give a good outcome most of the time.


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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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