Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
As a birth worker, I am an influencer. I get to take evidence, statistics, clinical experience, any special training, bias, preference, cultural influences, intuition, and many more tools to help guide you through the journey of pregnancy. Sometimes I get to start this influence early. Meeting you early prior to conception, or even as a teen (which is my favorite). Perhaps you had great influencers before I had any influence, and you are already on the road to health and wellness. This is ideal and often makes my job super simple. I am now just the gentle voice that reinforces already well-established patterns of good nutrition, mindfulness, strength, and conditioning. Perhaps the influence you have had before me is not positive or helpful for your overall health or pregnancy. This makes my job a little more difficult but we start together on the road to wellness through education on diet, exercise, and mindfulness. We slowly turn bad habits into new patterns and after time my hope is that my education and care have a positive influence on you as a human and also on pregnancy. Perhaps you have had a bad experience and you did not feel cared for or heard by your provider in the past. These are often the trickiest. We are starting with mistrust. I have to work hard to gain trust back. I have to take the extra time to listen quietly. I have to learn what happened and how the trust was broken. In order to have an influence, I have to first gain their trust.
As a birth worker, I am not the authority. I am not better than you, nor do I know you better than you know yourself. I am not God. I do not know everything, I do not have control of the situation. I am not a mind reader nor have a crystal ball that can tell you the outcomes. I am an expert in pregnancy and vaginal birth. It is my responsibility to help get you prepared for all situations, to educate you and give you the tools you will need to make informed safe decisions based on you and your family’s own personal preference, religious, and cultural beliefs. It is my responsibility to be mindful of the influence I have on the patient’s choice, to keep my own personal bias in check. It is my responsibility to take my knowledge, experience, and life experiences to prepare you for pregnancy and birth. It is my responsibility to build a trusting relationship with you. It is my responsibility to give choices and resources. It is my responsibility to listen to your desires. It is my job through informed consent and shared decision making to develop the plan of care that best suits your preferences or the preferences of your family.
It is my responsibility to know how my own stress, bias, mood, lack of sleep, patience, and patient load can positively or negatively impact my ability to do this each day. It is my responsibility to set boundaries on my patient load, time, and work-life balance to make sure that I live a life that is in line with what I ask of my patients.
I am a birth worker. My intention is to influence you in a positive way, to influence your pregnancy and baby in a positive way. In a way that impacts your own health, the health of your baby, the health of your family and even your community. In my career as a birth worker, I pray that I influence the health care system in a similar fashion. To be a part of a growing trend of positive influencers.
Full disclosure, it is my responsibility to let you know that your health and positive outcomes are your responsibility. The choices you make every day are the biggest influencers on the outcomes. You as the patient have the biggest influence on your own health, the health of your unborn child, and the health of your family. This is great news but also a heavy responsibility. I am just here to give you the resources you need to live your best lives. I am here to empower and provide support. I am not God. I am just like you, an influencer.
Love, Tracy Burns, CNM
Modern Day Midwife