Wonderful visit with an Amish midwife!!

It was sooo exciting to get to know an Amish midwife, to talk to her and to see how Amish women give birth to their children 

In the area where I am at the moment here in the US there are many Amish. Often having at least 7 children Amish families are quite big. The women birth at home. Only if there is complications they go to the hospital. 

My lovely doula colleague Jessica Zehr and I had the opportunity to meet the Amish midwife of the area. It had snowed on this day. A buggy with horses was plowing the driveway 🙂 

angelika_jessica_zehr

The Amish midwife's name is Emma. She was pleased to see us. When she heard that I speak German she welcomed me with a warm "Wie bisch du" asking me how I'm doing. The Amish among each other speak a kind of German mixed with English and it sounds like Swabian which is how they speak in part of Germany. 

She then told us (we switched back to English ; ) about her. Most of her knowledge she got from her sister-in-law, who has been an Amish midwife in Pennsylvania for more than 40 years. She also learned a lot from the homebirth midwife in the area. 

Emma is a midwife with all her heart - even though she "just" started 2010. Before that she had her own family raising 7 kids. One day she had 2 births. Her eyes started to glow when she said: "I liked that!". 

Doulas were new to Emma. She said so nicely that she looked the word up in the dictionary but couldn't find it. That's why she wanted to know from us what a doula is, what she does and if it would help her as an Amish midwife. 

The biggest challenge for an Amish midwife is that they don't have phones/cell phones and cars. The Amish do great without technology but in case of birth these 2 things could help a lot. Here they depend on help from neighbours and "English people" (that's how Non-Amish are called). 

Not always but still sometimes Amish babies are born in a horse buggy or in a car. Only 1 time Emma needed to go to the hospital. The baby was born at home. The placenta did detach but there were difficulties with it being born. When they arrived in the hospital the afterbirth was born. 

It was great for Jessica and me that Emma showed us her birthing room. She has a hospital bed which allow her to change height, a birthing ball as well a recliner and a rocking chair. 

amish_birthingroom

Pictures, especially showing people are not really wanted by the Amish. That's why I don't have a picture with Emma. But I was so happy that she gave her OK taking a picture of her birthing room!! 

Her next project is a birthing stool. She planned on ordering one but then she had the idea that they might make one themselves. The Amish men are very handy and do a lot of carpentering themselves. Jessica will print a drawing showing the measurement and then the Amish men can get right into building the birthing stool. 

I ordered the book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin that I want to give Emma. She has much knowledge and experience but she wants to keep learning. 

It was a pleasure for the 3 of us to meet. Thanks once again to Rosanna Moser, curator of the Mennonite Heritage Farm AHMA who arranged the visit for us. Emma, Jessica and I benefit a lot to have gotten to known each other. 

Shortly before we left Emma said how she enjoys talking to other birth workers and that she will write about us. The Amish too have a newsletter (though we don't know if it's handwritten and copied). But just as I'm writing about Emma in my newsletter, Emma will probably write about us in their newsletter^^ 

Thank you from all my heart for this nice visit! 

Angelika 
Biologist&Doula

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