Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Midwife

Before we dive into today’s entry, let me quickly remind everyone that we’re giving away a print copy of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus at Goodreads. Enter by 12/21 to win a free copy!

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Midwife

characterization, building a character, character creation, occupations, writers helping writers thesaurus

Becca with her midwife

Overview: Midwives have been a pillar of women’s health for thousands of years, and while techniques and perceptions have changed, the midwife’s role remains largely the same: providing prenatal medical support, assistance during labor, and care for both the mother and infant in the postnatal period. They also provide advice on family planning, childcare, and health, sexual, and reproductive matters. While midwives typically deliver babies on their own, part of their responsibility is to identify potential complications requiring treatment by other healthcare professionals.

Necessary Training: There are different midwifery certifications that vary from country to country in regard to the necessary levels of training. Some midwives must obtain a higher level of education, such as a graduate or bachelor’s degree, before entering into the clinical phase of training, while others only need to complete certain courses and show competency in specified areas of knowledge and skill. Depending on their certification, midwives can work in the hospital, birthing center, or home settings.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Basic first aid, empathy, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, herbalism, hospitality, multitasking

Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, affectionate, alert, analytical, calm, confident, courteous, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, empathetic, gentle, kind, loyal, meticulous, nurturing, observant, organized, passionate, patient, perceptive, proactive, professional, protective, responsible, supportive

Sources of Friction: Prejudice from other healthcare officials or hospital administrations who harbor misperceptions about midwives and the midwifery career, unforeseen circumstances during a delivery that cause complications, failing a recertification, having to keep up with new certifications and course work, trouble at home fueled by long hours on the job, the death of a baby, being unfairly blamed for something going wrong in the delivery, a patient who doesn’t take one’s advice or care for herself properly, a patient refusing to deviate from her birth plan and putting herself or her baby in danger, overbearing or hysterical relatives, learning about a fellow midwife’s unethical or inept actions (missing something obvious with the patient’s prenatal care, becoming romantically involved with a patient’s partner, etc.), administrators at one’s birthing center who are rude or difficult to work with, multiple patients going into labor at the same time, having to miss an important event because of an unexpected or longer-than-usual labor (a loved one’s wedding, a child’s concert, a family trip, etc.)

People They Might Interact With: pregnant women, women seeking gynecological care, the patient’s family members (partner, parents, children, siblings), other midwives, administrative personnel at a birthing center or hospital, OBGYNs and other doctors, nurses, doulas (birth attendants)

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: Outdated perceptions and stereotypes about midwifery still exist in some places. Someone who is accused of quackery or being  “less than” other industry professionals will lack the esteem and recognition that they deserve.
  • Love and Belonging: Midwives are typically passionate about their careers and their patients. Combine this passion with the odd hours and level of responsibility required in this profession, and some midwives could find it difficult to maintain the healthy work/life balance that will keep them in good graces with loved ones.
  • Safety and Security: This need wouldn’t typically be impacted in the midwifery career, but for fictional purposes, certain scenarios could be created that would create a void in this area. For instance, if the patient was secretly carrying the child of a dangerous person (such as a mafia don, unstable stalker, or powerful politician), agreeing to treat her could put the midwife in danger as well.
  • Physiological Needs: Again, extraordinary circumstances can be fabricated to put a midwife’s very life at risk. The Biblical story of Moses is one example where the midwives were commanded, on threat of their own lives, to put to death any male infants born to the Hebrew women.

Common Work-Related Settings: herbalist’s shop (speculative), hospital (interior), hospital room, living room, medieval village (speculative), nursery

Twisting the Stereotype: 

  • Midwives are, almost without exception, female. How about a man working in this field?
  • The stereotypical midwife is nurturing, caring, and empathetic. But like other healthcare professionals, a midwife can be good at the clinical part of her job while having a terrible bedside manner. Consider giving your midwife unusual traits for someone in this career, such as addictive, fanatical, inflexible, or timid.

 

About BECCA PUGLISI

Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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8 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Midwife

  1. :Donna says:

    Yet another great occupation entry 😀 And I already got me Emotional Wound Thesaurus TODAY! 😀 😀 😀

  2. oh! so timely, Becca! my current MC is a newbie midwife, in 1913 even – and is she ever timid, and doubts her own abilities! this is a saver and keeper, and goes in my file for current WIP!!
    thanks so much for a great piece!

  3. Talia says:

    I love this! Have you ever seen the PBS show “Call the Midwife?” I was literally picturing specific episodes while reading this post. 😀

  4. Carol Baldwin says:

    Loved the picture, Becca! Interesting observation.

  5. Jay Calhoun says:

    Thank you for this in-depth overview. I’m sketching a midwife who will appear much later in an historical fiction WIP. I’ve been putting off the re-search for her. So far I’ve only been thinking about her look and dialog, her home, tools, patients, etc. Thank you for highlighting her emotional person…encourages me to think up a more multi-dimensional character. I’d love it if all my characters were brightly and roundly drawn. Even those who pass in and out of the story quickly. This nudge encourages.

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