Recently someone said to me, “I don’t think they realize the responsibility they are taking on, teaching without professional training. If someone gets hurt on their watch from doing it wrong, it can be life altering.”

Glacier Park (Taken by Cathy Hanson)

In life, there are many things that we learn by doing. We may choose to become professional in them. I read today someone who first was angry because she could not find reliable cleaners, but then also that “professional” cleaners were charging more than she thought they were worth. In her mind, they should not make more money than someone that went to school for a “better” profession.

When someone is not experienced in a job, lacks training, does not carry the right credentials, insurance and so forth, often they are priced at a lower rate. They might not even charge close to what someone that carries those things would.

For example, anyone can sell their home. It is often said, “Why would I pay someone to do that, when I can do it and save the money.” However, many people find out the hard way at times that they wasted so much money with errant pricing, paperwork that was done incorrectly and lack of proper inspections which led them down a path of losing more money without using the proper professionals.

I have heard many stories, but for privacy reasons will make one up combined from several different ones to make the point. However, all the facts are true.

A young family find themselves pregnant. They had other children in the past, going with OB care, had a birth in the hospital and one at home with a midwife, but this time, they want something different. Their friend went unassisted and she had a story that just sounded so amazing. “That is what I want.” The young mother gushed. “I mean, the midwife didn’t really do anything when she came for my birth and all those prenatal checks never found anything wrong, so I don’t see why we couldn’t just skip those. I might want an ultrasound to find out what the baby is, and then we will go from there.”

The mother had the normal aches and pains of pregnancy, but when she talked to her friend about any concerns like blurry vision, weakness or headaches, the friend assured her that she had those things too. At one point, she scheduled a visit with a local midwife to get the ultrasound scheduled and was upset when she wanted to do a full check up. “Nothing is wrong. I just want the ultrasound.” When the midwife explained that she needed, for liability purposes, had to do a full workup, the mother threw up her hands in frustration. “I know what I want. I will sign the papers, just give me an ultrasound.”

“I’m sorry. I have to have some care being given in order to order one. It is just protocol.”

The mother opted to forgo the ultrasound, but was upset that the midwife would be so stubborn. When the end of pregnancy was coming around, people would comment on her size, but ask some pointed questions about if it was normal for her feet to be so swollen. “People are so irritating. Your body knows what size baby you can handle and would not grow one that we couldn’t birth.”

When labor started, she was excited to finally be done with pregnancy, and her friend offered to be a “birth keeper” for her, coming to encourage her in the birth. “Oh, you can be my doula.” the mother gushed.

“Yes!” the friend had been at her own births and one or two others, so she figured that was plenty of experience. She had seen how a midwife had checked her in early labor at a previous birth, and it didn’t seem to be too hard, so she was sure she could figure it out to help the husband to do it.

“What about heart tones?” a curious friend asked.

“Oh, they really monitor too much in hospitals these days. It is just best to leave mom and baby alone while they are doing their thing. Besides my husband really likes it that he is only one that touches me, just more modest that way.” Down deep she wondered if she was doing the right thing as sometimes she stared at her ballooned ankles, and couldn’t feel the baby move as much.

Now I could go a couple of different ways with this story, and it could have a few different endings.

Ending #1- Mother woke up with sharp pain and could not focus her eyes, she wondered what was wrong, and struggled to trust her body. She thought about calling her friend that had the unassisted birth, but something was telling her that she needed more help. She called a nurse friend instead, who told her to head to the ER ASAP. Her husband was reluctant and vowed to stop the hospital from doing any unwanted interventions. However, when they arrived, the discovery that she was on the edge of a seizure with high blood pressure, limited fetal movement and the risk of the placenta detaching had her agreeing quickly to a c-section. The feeling of failure overwhelmed her. Why had her body and she failed in having the birth that everyone else could do without professional intervention?

Ending #2- Mother felt contractions begin to rise and subside, and she called her birth keeper, letting her know to come over. As labor progressed, they concentrated on her comfort, pushing sleep, relaxation. It was peaceful, until it wasn’t. She was in so much pain. It seemed the baby was descending, and then baby wasn’t. They kept getting her settled into comfy positions, applying pressure and hoping that baby would come. She forgot to eat, drink or even use the bathroom. When the baby did begin to crown, and she was finally pushing, she had little strength to keep up with the pushing. She gave birth, but her tissues tore badly, and it felt as if her bladder was hanging out of her. Her friend took a look, but said “I don’t even know where to begin to put the pieces back together.” What should she do now?

These stories are mixtures of real instances that have occurred and women that live with the consequences of their choices for many years to come. Some of them may not really understand how those choices impacted their health until much later or ever. The value of professional training is key in preventing long term health issues.

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