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  • Mimi Niles

Fighting for a unified model of midwifery

I posted this to the ACNM bylaws discussion - but want to broadcast it far and wide. I welcome agreement and dissent equally. I am unafraid of the work because I do the work. And I let ACNM know, they might not know who I am, but I know who I am -- and isn't that the most radical act of all? If you are in the college - and have something to share please post - because they won't hear us unless we SHOUT and HOLLER as Ebony Renee reminded me. Our RAGE is golden.

I explicitly express my support for the by-laws change and its boldness in helping ACNM create the kind of organization that moves important work forward. I have been to many meetings where there is stagnation in our process. This is a step towards creating much needed movement and progress.

I also want to just reach out to my CM colleagues/sisters/warriors all over the WORLD - I am appalled at the level of ignorance and entitlement that I am seeing around the bylaws changes. This is yet ANOTHER reason why folx need to show up and VOTE! Let's represent for us ALL and the forward thinking establishment of the CM in states (Delaware, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island).

Educate yourself* on our contentious and violent history, this is necessary before we can move forward with clarity and fortitude. It's called truth and reconciliation - you cannot have one without the other.

The lack of creativity and openness to change and transformation is exactly why I want to relinquish my ACNM membership - is this an organization that truly has a BIG and BOLD vision for midwifery in this country as a DISTINCT and ANCIENT profession?

I would suspect many of you would also like to continue to perpetuate the elimination and invisibility of the CPM community as well?

I am a nurse and a midwife. And I work alongside all kinds of midwives - we are ONE. This an issue of power and control steeped in patriarchy. Patriarchy is not about men - it is about false dualisms, claiming authoritative knowledge, disallowing inclusion and shared governance, keeping power vertical/ never horizontal. And it is about making us fight ourselves so that they would have to do less work -- that is the nature of knowledge/power - let the oppressed oppress themselves (Foucault).

My mother was a midwife in India - worked for Unicef - when we migrated - she had to go back to nursing school. She didn't want to do that because she was /is a midwife - and had caught thousands of babies under the most disparate conditions in rural Gujarat. She midwifed and couldn't understand why her skillset wasn't valued here in the US- it nearly destroyed her spirit.

We need to BUILD our workforce - Kitty always reminds us of this -- we need thousands of midwives to REclaim what was lost and taken and colonized by nursing and medicine. And this is also about the danger of making a doctorate the 'entry to practice' degree - that cannot happen if you want to grow and diversify our workforce.

And recall, as I am sure some of you - the matriarchs of midwifery -- know better than me, midwives predate NPs. We were denied a place at table for many years by nursing organizations - (read Dawley) - and to even begin to think about the destruction of grand, indigenous, and immigrant midwives in this country should bring us to our knees with shame. And now - we are going to deny others - we going to shut folx out, instead of invite people in? I want no part of that - none. I have spent a lifetime being shut OUT of places - no more.

Audre Lorde said --- "I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own". If we can't accept this as midwives - then we are lost.

Dawley, K. (2003). Origins of nurse-midwifery in the United States and its expansion in the 1940s. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 48(2), 86–95.

Dawley, K. (2005). American nurse-midwifery: A hyphenated profession with a conflicted identity. Nursing History Review, 13, 147–170.

Foucault, M. (1978). The History of Sexuality: Volume I: An Introduction. New York: Pantheon Books.

Lorde, A. (2012). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Crossing Press.

*May, M., & Davis-Floyd, R. (2006). Idealism and pragmatism in the creation of the certified midwife: The development of midwifery in New York and the New York Midwifery Practice Act of 1992. In R. Davis-Floyd & B. Johnson (Eds.), Mainstreaming Midwives: The politics of change (pp. 81–155). New York: Routledge.

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