If we think about birth hundreds of years ago, it was at home and the experienced women of the family, or the village, and the traditional midwife supported women in labor. But where have all the wise women gone? And who can you count on to give you the support that a wise woman would? In this episode will take a very brief look at the history of midwifery, how the modern woman lacks support in the hospital model of care, and where you can find a wise woman.
The Black Friday Sale: https://www.lizziebolliger.com/blackfriday
1:1 Support for the Childbearing Year & Virtual Birth Support: https://www.lizziebolliger.com/1on1
Midwives vs OB Stats: https://www.statista.com/chart/23559/midwives-per-capita/
Today I want to talk a little bit about the wise woman. And what the wise woman is traditionally kind of what the wise woman is, but really what I want to talk about is like the importance of the wise woman and how you can have a wise woman in modern times because I feel like we’ve gone away with the wise woman and she is hard to find, and I was about to say no longer exists, but she does exist. And what really got me thinking about this is every, every time I have a one to one support, call with someone, when they go over their birth, and we talk about whatever they need to talk about. It’s a very much a lot of emotional support, as well as like informational support and education. And usually at the end of the call, and I say usually almost every single time I have a one to one call with someone. They tell me at the end, wow. Oh my gosh, I feel so much better. I don’t have anyone to talk to about any of this. And that specifically, you know, because we’re talking about physiological birth and unmedicated birth and, and these, my clients are generally having hospital births as well. So maybe home birth moms, you’ll have to let let us in on if this is true or not, maybe you you feel like you have more of that wise woman. Well, that’s because you do have a wise woman, you have a midwife, and you get more of that emotional support, and that informational support, but the women who are in the hospital model of care are not getting that and specifically the women who want unmedicated births feel really under supported like nobody understands why they want that birth. Nobody understands how to support them very well. I shouldn’t say nobody, but it’s just not common. And honestly, that is why I made a medicated Academy and that’s why I kind of cater to the moms wanting an unmedicated hospital birth because I really do feel like there is a huge lack of support there. And I talk about this all the time, but let’s get refocused on what is the wise woman? Well, if you think about birth, hundreds of years ago, it was always at home. Men didn’t even attend birth. It was all women. And it was the experienced women in the family or it was the experienced neighbor, the experienced women of the village a woman who had given birth many times and attended many births. That’s who supported women in labor. Those are your wise women. And a wise woman you know as as the pregnant woman, we need support more than just at the birth. Yes, we definitely need a lot of support at the birth, but I’m talking the wise woman supports for the whole childbearing year. So when you think of, you know, many hundreds of years ago where we really had that village a mom that is newly pregnant has a wise woman somewhere around to talk to through her whole pregnancy with her birth and postpartum and that’s really what you need. When we’re talking about like, well, how can we get the wise women in modern day times? We need a wise woman from that big fat positive through postpartum. We need that emotional support. We need that informational support and education and in the hospital model, it is very, very largely lacking specifically, you know, in the United States so let’s let’s the history of this isn’t my strong suit, but I have a few notes here that I want to share with you. So prior to the 1900s there was a big shift to the 1900s and we’ll get to that. But prior to that, again, the typical woman gave birth at home with female relatives, neighbors, helping to support her and encourage her and very often there was also a midwife. And the term midwife is what we use now, but we can also use the like traditional term a granny midwife. Or a granny and those were used specifically to describe the traditional black midwife. And these women were very well respected in the community and attended a majority of the birth so our OG midwife was a black woman. And the reason I’m pointing this out is because there are very few black midwives now.
So if we talk about when obstetrics came on the scene that was probably in the late 1700s obstetrics was first introduced into America and then by the early 1800s, the male physician had had already kind of started taking over the role of the midwife, particularly among like upper middle class white Americans. And then in the 1920s is when there was a huge shift and medical and public health professionals launched a re formation campaign to completely wipe out in end traditional midwifery. They accused midwives of being ignorant, dirty and dangerous and blamed these midwives for the a high infant mortality rate. Even though that wasn’t reality, and that wasn’t that wasn’t true. There were actually better maternal outcomes in the midwifery model ,I don’t think it was called that we called it that then, that is what we call it now, then what the general practitioners were providing and again, they are general practitioners, so like they’re still not as advanced as like you know, the surgical experts we have now a we’re just like doctors that were somewhat formally trained, but had very much less experience with birth than the midwives who had knowledge passed down from generation to generation. That campaign goal was to just completely eliminate the apprentice trained black midwife, and the midwife in general. And then to switch gears to developing medical programs like Hello, money makers. Let’s make every single midwife that’s already delivering babies have to go into a medical program. So one they need to be wealthy to do that, and to now they’re going to make a bunch of money because the state and the government is regulating childbirth, which is still a problem now today. And even still, I hear a lot of comments to from women who don’t want a home birth because they want a medical professional like I’ve heard, I’ve heard that well. I like the idea of a home birth but I really want a medical professional there. US midwives or medical professionals. So in the 1900s, they completely wiped out the midwives and that’s when now we have like programs and in a lot of our midwives are also nurses and the state now regulates midwifery. But they are still medical professionals and they know a lot more about physiological birth than the surgical birth experts and they know what is risky and what isn’t. And maybe that’s you maybe you aren’t 100% Sure, and the differences in the midwifery care and the obstetric care but very, very often like you like you’re not alone. I get this question a lot like well, I want to do a home birth but I’m afraid that I might be high risk because XYZ or whatever XYZ situation and it’s like the the midwives will know if you’re high risk and will send you to the hospital if you need to give birth in the hospital. If you need to transfer if anything comes up if anything is heading towards an emergency like they know what to look for. So it’s just it’s just shocking. To me, I guess that we that societies still kind of views midwives as not as knowledgeable as a hospital model or an obstetrician. Again, I’m not like super well versed in the history of Midwifery, but I just wanted to kind of touch on the fact that midwives were completely wiped out and birth like the male physician, the obstetrician because there were no women physicians at that time, completely wiped out the midwifery model completely took birth away from the midwife and that’s part of the reason why we don’t have wise women or nor do we like understand the need or the purpose or how wise women can help during the childbirth in year. It’s just like completely, completely unheard of. I mean, it’s not super unheard of, of course, like I feel like us. We as women like no we can. We can talk to our moms about all things motherhood right? I mean, if you have a fairly good relationship with your mom, but just the way society is set up, I know a lot of women are lacking even that relationship with their mother or, you know, we’re kind of Now getting back into physiological birth and the home birth and that sort of thing in our mothers may not have believed in that or taking part in that or know anything about that. I mean, I got lucky enough that my mom really believed in birth and she had unmedicated births and told me about her unmedicated birth so I knew I could have an unmedicated birth anyways, it your beliefs of birth come from the wise women around you. And if they’re not there, then you’re not going to have any belief in birth.
And one other thing, I wanted to know about this too, I had like a general idea of the history of midwifery and how it you know, it was black women were original midwives and they were completely wiped outright. But as I was trying to look this up, like I was searching for a few different terms just to kind of solidify like the years that this happened and I had a really hard time finding this information. Like they don’t want you to know that that’s how that happened. I kept having to do different search terms and different things that were coming up. Mostly I would find, kind of how we talked about a little bit about the history of midwifery and how we moved from like, midwives that were just more traditional, traditionally trained, or they were, you know, they just watched their midwives you know, a new gained experience by passing it down to generation generation, how we went from that to well now we have the certified nurse midwife and and they’re typically an RN, like the RN midwife route, but um and there are two types of midwives and I’m I don’t have the lingo down. I might have mixed up but I had a hard time finding articles and information on how black midwives were completely just removed from the practice.
So another thing to note is that in the US we have much less midwives attending births than OBs. And I want to say it was like, 4 midwives for every 1000 births that can’t that that seems maybe that is what it was. Anyways, and then it was like 18 obstetricians and other countries have it reversed. So one, they have more providers per birth, and they also have more midwives than obstetricians. And that’s one reason why we have such poor maternal outcomes in the United States. And honestly, I think it’s just like ridiculous that most of our obese are men. So like most, most women are giving birth and the person that’s helping them is a man who doesn’t have a uterus or a vagina and has never given birth before and has no idea what it even feels like and sometimes has no idea what physiological birth is even about, like they’re just the surgical expert and they kind of know about the birth process, but they don’t really know and they’re just they’re interrupting and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And I had a male provider for one of my births and I didn’t really think much of it at the time, but now like when I really like think about it, like Why are men Why are men being the birth experts? That doesn’t make any sense part of what makes me a birth expert? Yes Is my education but but is largely my experience, giving birth. Anyways, I’m like so off topic.
So how can we balance this out? It’s like the hospital system is against the wise women are gone. How can we find the wise women? So a wise woman is someone who has seen birth before is familiar with birth many variations of normal will guide you based on her experience and her knowledge and her intuition and her values. Just like the OG wise woman are midwives so the first thing you can do is see a frickin midwife. So don’t don’t go get a male OB, get a female preferably get a midwife because they have a lot more knowledge on physiological birth. They have a lot more intuition when it comes to birth. They really understand birth a lot more than an obstetrician. And I said this before on the podcast, a hospital midwife and a home birth midwife are not the same, they do not practice the same. They are very different. So keep that in mind not to say that all hospital midwives are like OBs but they’re more closely. They’re they’re still in the hospital system. So that’s, that’s the problem.
The first thing you could do to kind of balance counteract the lack of the wise woman is to have a midwife and if that’s a hospital midwife, that’s better than an obstetrician. Obviously a home birth midwife and a home birth would be best, but you guys know that. I know. That’s not always an option for everyone. Just like it wasn’t an option for me.
Another thing you would do is to get a doula. So find a birth doula that can be there for the birth find a doula or a wise woman who will be there for you for the childbearing year. Anyways, I’m really excited. I’ll talk a little bit about at the end. How I am going to try to help fill this gap of the wise woman with the childbearing year so get a doula one that is in versa and one that is virtual. Having a doula there is going to make a big difference in you feeling empowered and educated and knowledgeable and confident in your pregnancy and in your birth and in your postpartum. It is so much better even I have clients who will ask me before they Google because they know when they go to Google, they get conflicting answers. They have to dig through several like sources and vet the accounts like do I want to trust this? Hippie dippie, doula blog or do I want to, you know, that’s like five pages deep or do I go with the first thing that’s like healthline.com? You know what I mean? Do you know what I’m saying? So this is this is how the wise woman helps when you have someone that’s experienced and knowledgeable that you can ask them instead of causing yourself the stress of having to like vet answers on the internet and be stressed out over answers on the internet, and that sort of thing. So a doula is your second option midwife. doula.
Another option is to find your experienced friend, your experienced mom and sister find them and and use them as a support person whether that is like hey, come to my birth like will you come to my birth? Or if that’s just like, having a friend that you know, you can talk to about things, talk things through, talk over your birth plan, ask questions about newborn care about breastfeeding, that sort of thing. Use your intuition here. My. You can kind of read how maternal a person is. So use your intuition in terms of like trying to scout out who would be like a good wise woman for you like who parents the way you parent who do you know has had birth experiences that are similar to the birth experiences that you want and connect with them, let them share their story. Share your wishes and your fears and that sort of thing with them. A big part of like childbirth is is the fear of childbirth and the fear of the unknown, or maybe the fear of the unknown. Maybe this is not your first baby but your second and you’re a little fearful around something that happened in the first time having someone to talk through someone that understands first someone that’s going to like listen to you and give you space and not just say well, yeah, and then tell you their horror story. That’s not helpful. So that’s a good way to kind of vet your wise woman to is how much space do they give you? How much do they believe in birth? What is their intuition say about birth? Because that’s really important in having and having the wise woman. It can’t just be any female. You know, it needs to be someone that has experience and knowledge and values and intuition.
So that’s it. Those are the three ways that you can kind of get more of that wise woman in your life. And I mean, I guess we could even go it kind of went from like formal midwife to doula to friend. And I mean, we can even take it one step further. And, I mean, I’m on social media a lot. And I hate saying that, but I really am and I kind of can be like, well, that’s part of my job, but I’m on there. A lot wasting time. Too much time to probably. But watch who’s in your space and social media accounts is your space and you can actually use social media to fill up your space with some wise women. So like my account, you can follow me fierce Lizzie I talk on Instagram talking about Instagram here. I talk about birth a lot on there and I give a lot of wise woman advice on there. And if you have multiple accounts like that, it’s kind of providing you with a little bit of that informational support. And maybe even a little bit about emotional support. Not that you’re receiving like one to one, but hearing about some normal things surrounding birth and pregnancy and postpartum is is gonna really make a difference in your experience. So you really could I guess we could add that one and that was on scripted, not on my list.
But what I want to talk about too, is the new service that I’m offering. So it’s going to open up Black Friday week and I’m going to open up it’s going to be application only and it’s going to be one to one support for the childbearing year. And it’s going to be virtual, because I just, I want it to be more accessible and honestly, it’s easier for me to do virtual support with my young children and that sort of thing. But now you can have me as your wise woman one to one support for the childbearing years. So you would start, we would start ideally, you know, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, and we we would be in contact through the whole thing and then virtual birth support so you could have me there on call while you’re birthing in the hospital. As your virtual doula. This is especially great if you don’t have any doulas in your area if your hospital is not allowing doulas into the birth. If if the doulas in your area are booked for your due date, that sort of thing, aren’t you really just want me because you feel a connection with me? I’m a good, you know, I’m like a fierce birth advocate. You can have me in your hospital room kind of virtually and officially. There in spirit.
And then it would go into the into postpartum so the childbearing year is like, it’s basically a year so you have three trimesters of pregnancy and then one trimester the fourth trimester, which is the postpartum trimester, and that covers the span of a year. And that’s what I really am looking forward to is getting some clients in that I can really work with one to one. As we work through pregnancy. I really love talking to you guys, one to one and I made my course so I didn’t have to do as many one two ones, but now I’m kind of missing the one two ones and really, I’m telling you every time when I talk to to a mom, and she just she makes me cry because she’s like, I feel so much better about everything now because I just I had someone to talk to that gets it so I want to do that and I want to form more relationships with you. So yeah, I’m I’m going to be opening up just a few spots. Next week for Black Friday. You’ll be able to submit an application and I’m going to sift through those and pick just a handful to start with and and it’s going to be really, I have an idea of how I want it to work. I would like to meet with you every time you see your hospital provider. So I’m kind of filling in that gap. And we can go over anything that happened at your prenatal visits. And I’m going to have some set topics, some prenatal topics and planning for birth topics, some postpartum topics that we’re going to cover when we meet one to one as well as like whatever you want to talk about. Then of course, you’re gonna get access to all of my online courses and that sort of thing. So you’re, you’re just like, super supported and you have a wise woman with you the whole time every step of the way. So I’m really excited to work with a few of you, as we kind of like a I’m going to rely on you to help me like hammer out what’s like the perfect kind of support amount and method. And then as these moms have their babies I will of course open up spots for more moms I can only take on just a few one to one clients at this time.
So that’s all I have for you if if you want to get in on my Black Friday deals. So of course, like I said, I’m opening up applications or the one to one support for the childbearing year, but I’m gonna have a flash opening to Unmedicated Academy, as well. For one day only on Black Friday, and I’m going to have a bunch of other promos of various sizes. So like if you’re having a home birth, I’ll have my unmedicated birth basics on a promo for you. My breastfeeding class on a promo for you so it’s not just for the mom that wants to unmedicated hospital birth but of course, Unmedicated Academy is going to open the doors open on Friday. Anyways, you don’t want to miss out all the sales are going to be 24 hours only. So get on my email list at lizziebolliger.com/blackfriday. And if you are listening to this after Black Friday and you want more information on the one to one support for the childbearing year, go to lizziebolliger.com/1on1. And you can submit an application there.
Alright As always, if you enjoyed this episode about the wise woman I would love if you shared this with someone who is expecting or shared it on your Instagram. If you share it on your Instagram tag me so I can shout you out and reshare you and thank you personally for tuning in to the podcast episode today.