Founders of the Mid­wifery Edu­cation Club pose at their first meeting of the semester. Eliz­abeth Bachmann | Collegian

Four Hillsdale women pur­suing careers in mid­wifery set out this semester to amend mis­con­cep­tions about mid­wifery, and stand with women in the Hillsdale com­munity through the newly approved Mid­wifery Edu­cation Club. 

At their kick-off meeting Tuesday, sophomore and pres­ident Sophia Berryhill stated the club’s mission: to raise awareness about mid­wifery as both a career option and a birthing option, and to support pregnant women in the broader Hillsdale com­munity through out­reach and fundraising. 

The club centers itself strongly around the word “midwife” itself, meaning “with woman.” Every event the club orga­nizes will center around the best way to serve women in the com­munity, according to Berryhill. 

Club members can look forward to upcoming events like part­ner­ships with and fundraisers for Alpha Omega Care Center and the Early Preg­nancy Loss Asso­ci­ation, as well as panels of pro­fes­sional mid­wives, nurse mid­wives, and OBGYNs, and even doc­u­men­taries about birthing options and midwifery. 

“We wanted to partner with that career aspect, but also educate people about mid­wifery as a birth option because so many people at Hillsdale want to have fam­ilies someday,” Berryhill said. “When you do that, we want women to rec­ognize that they do have a choice.” 

Berryhill empha­sized that people often overlook both the pro­fes­sion­alism of mid­wifery and the variety of birthing options mid­wives present. A woman can choose between a hos­pital birth, a hos­pital birth overseen by a nurse midwife, a birthing center birth with a cer­tified midwife, or, as long as she has no health com­pli­ca­tions, a home birth with a cer­tified midwife. 

Sec­retary of the Mid­wifery Edu­cation Club, sophomore Molly Buccola, said that women often don’t take advantage of mid­wifery ser­vices either because they don’t know about them or don’t trust them. 

“Often­times when I tell people I am getting a degree in bio­chem­istry and am becoming a midwife they are like, ‘Why do you need a science?’” Buccola said. “There are a lot of archaic notions of mid­wifery that per­meate campus. People don’t realize that mid­wifery is a legit­imate medical service. We are licenced medical providers for normal births. That takes a lot of phar­ma­cology, clinical skills, phys­iognomy, biology.” 

Bucolla, Berryhill, and junior Phoebe Fink, club vice pres­ident, all stressed that mid­wives can oversee a birth in the mother’s home or at a small birth clinic, where beds, couches, nitrous oxide — a laughing gas more gentle than epidurals — jac­cusies, and other holistic pain relief options make the process more natural, calming, and mother cen­tered than at a hospital. 

Mid­wifery has long been a career aspi­ration for Fink, but she said hearing about her sister-in-law’s birth story affirmed her aspirations. 

“My sister-in-law had a baby with a midwife. She was on her hands and knees on the floor laboring and the midwife said, ‘it is time to deliver this baby, do you want to get on the bed or stay here,’” Fink said. “She stayed on the floor because it was more com­fortable for her in that moment whereas most doctors make you stay in bed so they can see what is going on, but that actually makes it harder to use all the muscles you need to push.” 

A midwife, Fink said, is more con­cerned about the natural process of birth which will happen whether the mother is in a hos­pital or not. 

It was talking with Fink and others that first inspired Berryhill to pursue mid­wifery. She entered Hillsdale pre­pared to major in bio­chem­istry and con­tinue on to medical school to become a doctor. However, she began exploring alter­native career choice options, and even­tually decided to become a nurse midwife. 

“I want to be a midwife because I want to serve women with my career, and mid­wifery is some­thing that I know I can do that best,” Berryhill said. “I want to be there for women in one of the most impactful and life-changing expe­ri­ences of her life and connect through com­passion, empathy, and com­mitment to make her birth the best and most rewarding expe­ri­ences of her life. I cannot see myself doing any­thing else.” 

Bucolla gave similar reasons for pur­suing a career in mid­wifery, but empha­sized that most impor­tantly, to serve a mother through mid­wifery is to guide her towards the most natural birthing expe­rience and show her what, as a midwife, she already believes about birth. 

“I am really excited to give women the oppor­tunity to know what a midwife is and to educate them on the idea that they could have non-invasive, healthy, pow­erful birth expe­rience where they are in control, they have a birth plan, and they have a midwife who is their friend and has empathy,” Buccola said. “A lot of women think their only option is a hos­pital where you have 10 dif­ferent nurses. I think it is so important for women to have pow­erful, healthy, rela­tional expe­ri­ences in birthing.”