I don’t empower my clients!

I just had a lovely 6-week postpartum visit (the final for this pregnancy) with a fantastic family whose first baby was born in a hospital – while this current little sweetheart she was nursing was born into a birthing pool in her bedroom.

As we neared the end of the visit, we asked the question that I have asked every single client at their final visit with me – do you have any feedback for us about your care here? Start to finish…before we say goodbye (for now), is there anything we could have done to make your experience better? Anything you loved even though you didn’t expect it from us? I am human and, while I try my absolute hardest to be the best servant I can be – being human means that I’m not perfect. But I am always willing to learn! What can I do to be better?

“You were awesome and you gave us a WONDERFUL birth experience!”


Of course that warms my heart and makes me smile! But somewhere deep inside it also causes the humble part of me to cringe.

Cringe? Why would I cringe? Because I know the truth, and yes I did share my thoughts with this couple.

I am so thrilled that they had a wonderful birth experience….but I didn’t give that to them. When her water broken, she went into labor on her own without intervention – I didn’t induce her. She labored freely, eating when she got hungry, and drinking to stay hydrated – I didn’t restrict her. She began pushing when her body told her to- I didn’t stop her and request a cervical exam. She birthed her baby under he own power and held him in her own arms – I didn’t put her into the bed on her back and I didn’t take him away to maintain his warmth. She fed him from her own breast – I didn’t stop her.

I didn’t give her these things! I simply didn’t take them from her.

I didn’t give her this wonderful experience – she gave herself the wonderful experience through her own choice. I simply didn’t steal it away from her.


I don’t empower women – I just do everything I can not to take their power away from them. They are strong, whether they know it or not ….sometimes that strength is hiding because they’ve been told too many times that they weren’t strong, weren’t worthy, weren’t good enough. But all you have to do is allow them the opportunity to call on that strength and it comes bursting out, like sunshine that’s been squashed into a container and the lid is finally cracked open. I didn’t give them that strength…I didn’t give them the power…and I don’t give them their birth experiences. I just do everything I can not to take it away from them.


You have no idea how much I would love to say that I gave all of these women their wonderful births! But I don’t have that kind of power….their birth belongs to them and they deserve all of the accolades and to bask in the glory of their achievement. As for me, I just feel honored to be there, help out as much as I can, and celebrate a woman’s discovery of her own powers.

But make no mistake about it – I didn’t give that to you. I just didn’t take it away from you.



  1. Kolleen wrote:

    What a great perspective! After 3 hospital births it was so refreshing to experience a home birth. I think it seemed (unfortunately) so normal for the hospital/docs/nurses to make the decisions for me that it never even occurred to me that it could be any different – let alone that it SHOULD be any different. I was amazed by my first home birth and blessed to be able to do it again. I would never look down on someone else’s choice to have a hospital birth but I would GLADLY share with them my decision and hopefully open their minds to another possibility. LOVED the post!!

    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 1:17 am | Permalink
  2. Jennifer Linstad wrote:

    Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts with us! I am a student midwife and was a doula for 4 years prior to that. While I felt exactly the same way you just described – i was never able to articulate it even to myself. I always felt embarrassed and a little weird when my clients would say “I couldn’t have done it without you,” or “I don’t even know what I would have done if you hadn’t been here.” Now, sometimes I understood where they were coming from as a doula – because in the hospital a lot of what I did was help them to know how to run interference with the staff – bbut even then, THEY knew to hire me, THEY knew to ask me questions and THEY knew what choice felt good to them. While I value the role I play, and I am proud of the work I do, I cannot take credit for the glow, and for what they just discovered in themselves.

    It is funny though, because while I know all this from my new perspective, I would still walk off the face of this earth for my midwife. Because she stepped aside and allowed me to fill the birth room with my power. She allowed me sacred space to find my way through our prenatals. And in the postpartum period she allowed me the time to cry. And in these gifts, I was able to create so much more inside of myself.

    As a midwife, I will take your words and what they mean with me, because I think you have been able to really distill what it means to practice midwifery.

    Thank you.

    Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  3. Rowan Bailey wrote:

    I remember my midwifery teacher saying ‘we have failed our job if the family says “I couldn’t have done it without you” because we are just the facilitators.’ You described exactly what she meant in this post. Muchas Gracis

    Monday, March 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

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