Clarity and compassion

Lori BarklageAAMI

In much of North America, Traditional Midwives work with a select group of families who choose their birth attendant directly.  They are not often in a clinical setting and are never in contact with random clients. The families who hire them do so because of shared values, points of view, or geographical location.

AAMI supports the right of every family to have a midwife if they desire one. Every family. No matter their political views, religious beliefs, family dynamics, cultural or ethnic heritage … every family. As such, we support the right of every student to study.

In creating a paradigm in which ALL families are supported, there are many times I will feel personally uncomfortable, and may feel triggered. That’s ok with me because I see triggers as an opportunity for healing.

Only a weapon that’s loaded can be affected by a trigger. My goal in life is to unpack the explosives and render the triggers ineffective. We can only do that by allowing others to have every right we have, even when it makes us feel triggered. Especially when we feel triggered.

What does it say about my compassion and support of families if I say that only certain people (who agree with me, specifically) should have access to trained midwives? To me, the extrapolation of that is very dangerous indeed.

Am I really saying that those who I see as disagreeing-with-me do not deserve a trained attendant for their birth? Do I wish them the harm that is caused by a lack of birth options? In the end, this is the most important part of the equation. All families deserve safe and knowledgeable support if they want support. 

Are there midwives who only serve a certain demographic? Of course… some of their personal lines are based on shared experiences or religion, and some people’s lines are in a very different place than mine.

Should those who only serve certain religions or shared cultures be kicked out of training programs since they have no intention of serving a diverse population? It is not the intent or goal of midwifery education to define who you serve, but how to serve responsibly and safely. Ideally, no student or practicing midwife is bashed for being clear about the population they serve, nor is there a reason to do so. Serve where you want to serve, and allow space for every woman to feel as supported by her midwife as your clients are by you.   

I have very clear guidelines for personal energy investment, and I would like to be very clear with those who are demanding that I invest time in places that are not mine to manage.

Where I will act decisively and with complete clarity:

  • AAMI student groups, virtual or physical
  • AAMI public online groups
  • AAMI Facebook walls
  • My own wall

Where I am choosing not to invest time nor energy:

  • Policing any individual’s wall
  • Policing screenshots taken of any individual’s private FB post
  • Places where I am personally tagged which are not addressed in the ‘places I will act’ list above

Midwifery is an expression of personal power for many – the reclaiming of a heritage where families were encouraged to surround themselves with those who they felt safe with to help during a most sacred event. This is not an event owned by any one group, no matter their life choices or political leanings. The midwives who attend them should be as diverse as they are. At AAMI our focus is on excellence in midwifery and in healing the wounds that cause families additional trauma. To do that, we must focus on our shared mission of supporting every family who wants a midwife.


Director, AAMI