Although many families in Vancouver continue to choose to hire a traditional birth attendant to support them during birth, it is not an option that most women even realize they have.
A traditional birth attendant supports birthing women the way midwives used to practice, before it became a regulated medical profession here in BC. Traditionally, midwives were women in the community who provided woman-to-woman support during the normal process of birth.
When the term midwifery in many parts of Canada became adopted by the medical field to mean a medical professional trained to manage low-risk births at home or in the hospital, the traditional, non-medical midwives began to call themselves “traditional birth attendants”.
Although our culture has shifted the majority of births into the medical institution, attended by medical doctors and registered, medically trained midwives, there is nothing inherently medical about childbirth.
Childbirth is a normal, physiological, healthy part of the female life cycle. While medical professionals like doctors and midwives are trained to be managers of a woman’s childbirth, traditional birth attendants support the mother during her own, innate biological process of birth.
If you’ve never considered or heard of traditional birth attendants, I encourage you to do some research. As a student of traditional midwifery educator Gloria Lemay, and as someone who has attended births with a variety of types of childbirth attendants, I think it is important for woman to consider their options, especially if they wish to be supported in a gentle and natural, non-medical childbirth experience.
If you had a positive experience birthing with a traditional birth attendant, please comment below. As always, feel free to contact me with questions or comments!
This post is meant to highlight a distinction between the two (TBAs are NOT medical professionals, they are there to support a woman’s own process, while RMs ARE medical professionals, and by the CAMs own definition are in place to manage low risk births), not to create a divide, but to help people understand the difference.