In recent years many expectant parents have turned away from conventional institutional deliveries, returning to the time-honoured tradition of using a midwife or doula to assist with both home and hospital births.
Recently, the role of a death midwife is emerging as a growing service to help love-ones and patients through the process of dying. Like giving birth to a new life, ushering a life to it’s end can be eased with the help of an experienced guide. By creating a plan for death, many of the worries about what will happen are lifted and the experience can be more meaningful and less stressful. A death midwife will support the family’s spiritual beliefs and rituals surrounding death by gently uncovering both the wishes of the patient and the family.A death midwife uncovers and supports the wishes of the patient and the family Click To Tweet
This work goes beyond pain management, which is an important component of end of life care, to find meaning, peace and help people live to their fullest potential in their remaining days. By focusing on ways to create a better death, patients and family can prepare for the end of a family member or friend’s life with dignity and compassion. Instead of prolonging life with unnecessary interventions, a death doula will help find ways to make the patient’s experience less frightening; it can often be a simple as sharing a favourite meal, seeing the family garden one last time or visiting with a beloved pet.
A death midwife can also help the family after death, making arrangements for the body and funeral services or offering bereavement support. Some families using the services of a death midwife may consider having a home funeral rather than planning a traditional funeral home service.
While the practice of death midwifery is not regulated in Canada, in Oregon “Death Care Consultants” must be licensed though the state’s Mortuary and Cemetery board. To learn more about death midwives and doulas, visit the Canadian Community for Death Midwifery at: http://ccdeathmidwifery.org/.
Some midwives in Canada seek training through the Institute of Traditional Medicine which offers Contemplative End of Life Care classes. To learn more visit: http://itmworld.org/?page_id=263 .