First, I strongly suggest that you check out Linda's take on the latest ACOG nonsense. As always, they want to make sure that women are "protected" from these outlaw midwives and their dark and dangerous ways.
One of their claims, that midwives are mostly self-educated, really chaps my hide because:
1) It's untrue -- even midwives who don't attend a formal school are still trained by other midwives. And hey, isn't an internship basically an apprenticeship for an MD?
2) The autodidactic spirit of the women I know who work in birth impress me so deeply. It's a passion for learning that I simply don't see in many other professions. It's condescending to imply that you have to go to medical school to get an education about birth.
The snobbery and sexism implicit in these ACOG statements always gets me down. I wish I could say that they have no impact on me, but that would be a lie. In fact, one of the biggest reasons I had for enrolling in midwifery school is the fact that I think my education will be more respected this way. It's not the only reason (others being that I like structure in my studies, and that one of my preceptors strongly encouraged it as a condition of taking me on), but it was certainly a big one.
That said, Pam's words on this still resonate with me:
[Midwifery education] has to be personally defined. We are not all the same, nor do we all learn the same. I cannot even begin to speculate what this would look like or have to encompass for it to be "ultimate". Each family, each community, has a different need. If we all are trained the same and think the same and practice the same, where is the midwife for people who want something different for their birth?
School is the beginning, not the end, of an education.
Anyway, I also recommend that you check out the CDC's latest report on breastfeedng practices in hospitals and birth centers around the country. It's predictably frustrating. One of my favorite bloggers, Rachel from Women's Health News, has a tidy summary of the report.
The thing that is so disheartening to me about it is the pervasiveness of giving healthy, full-term infants formula supplementation, even when their mothers indicated that they were breastfeeding. Just as these facilities don't trust women's bodies to birth their babies without interference, they don't trust women's bodies to nourish those babies after birth. Routine supplementation flies in the face of everything we know about breastfeeding and the nutritional needs of the newborn. But what really eats me up is that the systematic undermining of women's confidence in their bodies. It hurts the breastfeeding relationship, it hurts the mothering relationship, and it hurts other women's confidence before they've even conceived. When is the medical profession going to stop focusing on harassing midwives and direct its attention to actually keeping mothers and babies healthy? Good breastfeeding practices would be an excellent place to start.