Midwife is a verb

The word doctor is not a verb. As a noun, it may conjure up the image of the authoritative, white-coated and unapproachable man. Or some may have the image of the country doctor, a trusted family friend and professional to whom you might turn in times of illness. As a verb it does not exist. The word midwife can be a verb. It is used occasionally in a context which has nothing to do with women and birth. A journalist might describe the United States as midwifing the negotiations between two nations. Maybe between Israel and the Palestinians. Why is the word midwife used in this case? Examining this choice of words sheds light on what the midwife's model of care is.

I believe that midwifing as a verb means respect for the process. The parties are not told how to reach their goal. They are supported in moving forward. It also implies respect for the parties and their abilities. It is implied that they can reach their goals together and that they are unique in their needs. They will find their own way. They just need to be midwifed towards a solution.

So in being with woman, supporting a woman through a pregnancy, a labor, a birth and through the postpartum period, we midwife (the verb). It could be a midwife who does it. It could be a doula. It could be a nurse. It could be a family member. It could even be a doctor.  But just as colloquially the word implies respect for the process and a gentle, nuanced approach without forcing and without power plays, so midwifing a pregnant woman is similar.