As the New Year has come around, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of solo practice midwifery. I find myself, through no intention of my own, the sole proprietor of a thriving home birth practice. As strange as it sounds, the reality of this has snuck up on me. I have always practiced in partnership with at least one other midwife. The transition from this model to solo practice has not been an easy one as it was never a goal of mine to have my own business. Yet here I am doing the work I am called to do, just in a way I had not envisioned. As I was contemplating this on New Year’s Eve, and anticipating the changes to come, I realized quite clearly that the concept of “solo” practice is really in no way accurate.

No midwife I know is truly a solo practitioner. We all rely on so many others to support us as we support the families we serve. This path is one that, by its very nature, cannot be walked alone.

Heidi Ricks Albany Midwife

First and foremost, our families’ support is critical to our success. I could never do this work without the support of my husband and the cooperation of my children. I can be a midwife to others only because they are independent, flexible and strong. I am sure that being the spouse or child of a midwife is not easy and yet my family has been very gracious in their support of what I am called to do in life.

Secondly, a midwife must depend to some degree on her community of sister midwives. We are blessed in this region to have so many midwives who are connected. We all rest in the knowledge that we can call on each other at any time. We have learned so much from each other and, although we may all have different styles, we can and do support each other in times of need.

There are times when midwives must reach outside our own practices to consult with or refer to other professionals in the area. Locally we have so many wonderful practitioners who support midwifery and home birth. There are hospital-based midwifery practices, maternal/fetal medicine doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, family practice docs, acupuncturists, nutritionists, OBGYNs and so many others who we work with on a regular basis. These relationships are vital to our ability to provide comprehensive, holistic care to our clients. I am eternally grateful for these relationships.

Then there are friends, including many past clients, who are always at our backs to hold us up when we are in need; the ones who will cook a meal for our families, who offer us a couch to sleep on after a long birth in their town, who will be there for our kids when we cannot be ourselves, who offer a cup of tea or a massage at the end of a long week, offer business and technical skills and insights. These are the people who believe so deeply in the midwifery model of care and who support it in any way they can.

The assistants who are learning the midwifery way of life and who are willing to help in exchange for experience are invaluable to the midwives they help. This relationship is mutually beneficial and a gift to both midwife and assistant. I am so happy to have such an amazing group of dedicated women stepping up to fill this need and I am looking forward to supporting the paths of more women coming into the field of midwifery.

So, it is becoming increasingly clear that the concept of “solo” midwife is truly a myth. There is no such thing. We could not possibly do this job without many people giving us the support we need to make it work. As we begin another trip around the sun I am very grateful for all of those who are a part of HeartSpace Midwifery and who are the reason I can keep doing this work I love so much. I am happy in the realization that I am not a solo practitioner. I have a huge support network. Thank you all!