The Path to the House of Midwives

It was 2010. We were travelling to Nashville, to visit our midwife-role model Ina May Gaskin’s birthing centre The Farm, to deepen our views on holistic and birther-centric midwifery.

ina may gaskin kätilötalo

Johanna Sarlio-Nieminen (left), Ina May Gaskin and Anu Lampinen

From a distance our own work looked different and opportunities stood out more clearly. On the way back home it felt obvious that we’d embark on a joint journey specifically to work with home birth, following in the footsteps of Finnish home birth midwives.

We hoped to affect the discussion on midwifery supporting the birther and securing birthing peace, by bringing forth the opportunity for home birth. The first home birth we attended together took place in December that very same year ♥

Our joint entrepreneurial midwife-path became stronger with every home birth. As the number of pregnant women and families coming to us grew, the significance of a familiar midwife during preparation for birth, the experience of a successful birth as well as the successful start of breastfeeding became very clear.

Experiencing that increased our satisfaction in our midwifery, which in turn inspired us to find new ways of developing as midwives and co-travellers to women.

 

The House of Midwives moved to Töölö

Attending home births together and supporting each other in our first steps into entrepreneurship kept us close, but we were working physically apart. In 2013 the need to also work in the same physical space arose, in order for us to have a complete synergy and continuous inspiration. We finally found our space in Töölö.

Its effect was strong. Even though the midwife in many ways is an independent actor, midwifery is strongly based in community. Together we were immediately much more than before.

Kätilötalo

The House of Midwives as a name already had a strong impact on us who worked there. Besides embodying our profession, it also strengthened our thought about how midwifery and journeying with women is holistic and only a small part of it takes place at the hospital. To us the House of Midwives symbolises a low threshold to meet a midwive and it seems it really is easy to come to our House of Midwives!

The women who come to us are pregnant, preparing for birth with and without partners, wishing to have a hoe birth, needing help with breastfeeding, thinking about conceiving and working on a previous birth with a midwife, planning to have a midwife at their hospital birth, birthers needing support in different languges and families that want to create a continuum in their journey ♥

The House of Midwives is also for professionals

The low threshold for entering is also designed for our colleagues and the midwifery-minded. The midwifery teachers and students from Metropolia are just a stone’s throw away and our previously begun collaboration continued and strengthened as the students came to acquaint themselves with our work, design projects and see the possibilities and entrepreneurship of midwifery.

Midwifery teachers have visited us with students and in teacher groups as well as brought their foreign guests to discuss Finnish midwifery. We have a network of researchers and begun consulting on developing midwifery. Different doula-groups, like Folkhälsan’s and The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters’ doulas have actively been involved with us. We have also participated in Folkhälsan’s breastfeeding project Imetysrauha.

Together we are inspired

We have had guests from Japan, Portugal, Africa and the Americas as well as from all over Finland: midwife groups from maternity wards have visited us at the House of Midwives and we have inspired each other.

Each Finnish maternity ward has their own specific way of doing things. The differences usually only become apparent once the people get to tell their stories and respectively many have taken home ideas and implemented new work methods after a visit to the House of Midwives. Virtuality has brought us midwives of Finland closer in many ways, but nothing beats discussing things in person ♥

No person (especially the midwife) is an island (J Donne, 1624). The House of Midwives is based in our own experience as midwives as well as the role models and colleagues that have taught and influenced us. Most of all the birth of the House of Midwives has been influenced by all the birthers and families that we, during our midwifery careers, have assisted and attended.

The House of Midwives is our dream come true of a holistic, woman-centric midwifery practice that allows us to earn a living doing what we love and be so inspired that we can keep working happily for many years.