Midwifery Burnout and the Importance of Work-Life Balance

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I can remember exactly when I hit a wall and said I need a change in my life. I had been doing home births for three days in a row and just got home to give my six-year-old son his long overdue bedtime story. I was literally three minutes into reading when the phone rang for another birth. When I said I had to go, my son looked at me and innocently asked for a new mother. I started crying instantly. He quickly tried to change his statement to, “I want two mothers. I want one to read my book and other one to go help that lady birth her baby.” The simplest statements can really hit a nerve when you realize where your midwifery journey has taken you. Midwifery was taking over every aspect of my life.

At the time, I was working 80+ hours a week running Midwifery Matters, a home birth and birth center practice in Michigan. My self-care was terrible. I had enough clients easily for two midwives and no back up options for vacations, sick calls, or baseball games. My life revolved around my phone, anxiety, and the unpredictability of this amazing experience we are all so passionate about: BIRTH!

I knew I needed a change. I wanted to a be both a midwife and a mother. I stepped back from running my own practice, which was so difficult to do knowing the limited options women had in an out-of-hospital setting. But it was necessary; I was losing my identify and drive for midwifery. I went down a dark path of suicidal thoughts, lack of self-worth, and doubts of my life’s path so far. If it wasn’t for my amazing support system, I honestly don’t think I would still be here today.

My journey from midwifery burnout to running a very successful consultation venture, Midwifery Business Consultation, has been filled with rocky points and hallmark highs. I have gained so much in the way of professional development tactics, self-care skills, business/financial knowledge, and networking opportunities that would have never been possible if life didn’t test my spirit for a while. I am so passionate about empowering midwives to have successful businesses, self-care, work/life balance, and financial resources. Midwifery burnout is too high! Business and financial knowledge are also limited in traditional midwifery schools. I truly believe a core curriculum that includes business and finances in midwifery schools would really help prevent much of the frustration and burnout that occurs. 

There was so much I didn’t know, which pushed me to do more and more with less and less time. I want other midwives (especially students) to learn from my story and not have your children re-balance you between home and work. Daily self-care, work/life balance, and strong business sense will go wonders in accelerating midwifery options in the United States. I want to help other midwives prevent burnout and run their dream practice today!