How midwives reconcile feminists with medicine

Since the issue of the gynecological and obstetric violence discourse, many people have turned to midwives for their gynecological follow-up, in search of more respectful care and a relationship of trust. Encountered.

In her early twenties, Alicia experiences an unwanted pregnancy. She is confronted by an indifferent gynecologist who shows her to her “the embryo on the screen during the ultrasound, while [son] the choice to have an abortion was very clear “. On the day of the operation, “He did not have delicate gestures at all”quite the opposite.

But it wasn’t until years later, at nearly 30, that Alicia made this observation. comparing this memory to the way his first consultation with a midwife goes. And she is not the only one who happily discovered this alternative.

Paloma *, 29, had resigned herself to seeing a gynecologist only in cases of force majeure, after a first appointment with an austere practitioner and a brutal auscultation carried out in the greatest silence – “I close the closet door and burst into tears”remember.

Many have testified in recent years, under the hashtag #Payetonuterus in particular, to remarks that lead to guilt or abusive acts. They find that once they walk through the closet door, they have very little opportunity to think about what they want.

All the people who testified for Madmoizelle thought it was necessary to go through it. This fate was overturned by the discovery that midwives, since 2009, can provide gynecological follow-up of all healthy people, from adolescence to perimenopause.

“We prioritize what the person wants by providing them with all the information they need to make an informed choice. “

Élise Audienne-Roy, midwife

Between word of mouth or online advice on forums, Instagram accounts or dedicated sites like Gyn & Co, they turned to these caregivers, looking for practices that are more respectful of their body, of their consentand better listening.

“Explain every gesture and act he is about to perform and ask for consent before touching any part of the body” described Delphine, of Toulouse. “My midwife said something that changed my view of things”says for her part Manon, 28, who no longer wanted hormonal contraception but feared she had no other options due to her diabetes:

“He said to me ‘In the worst case, let’s put a copper IUD, and if it doesn’t suit you, we can change.’ Why hasn’t anyone told me this before?”

Midwives, necessarily more benevolent?

“Becoming a midwife suggests choosing a longer discussion time, that our work is not just technical”explains to Lose Élise Audienne-Roy, liberal midwife in Nantes for fifteen years.

“Our training focuses on caring for healthy women. When you meet a patient, it is not considered through the prism of pathology. We ask many questions because we are trained and trained in listening, in psychology. “

An ear that makes the difference as does the attention to detail.

“I have a pillow on my gynecological table. This allows the patient to have her head slightly tilted, which favors exchange, eye contact. I can see in her face if she still agrees with the gestures I make. “

Unsplash / @cdc

As soon as the area of ​​expertise of midwives was extended to prevention, screening and then medical abortions, Élise Audienne-Roy trained there with enthusiasm. However, she does not put herself in an “expert” position.

” In reverse to a certain obsolete vision of medicine, which presupposes that through their training, caregivers know what is good for the patient, what the person wants is favored by providing him with all the information necessary to make an enlightened choice. “

The idea is therefore that of to escape from infantilizing and dogmatic patriarchal practices and make the patient an actor of his health.

For example, the gynecological examination is complementary but not systematic: here patients are not perceived only through the prism of their uterus.

Elisabeth realized this when, at 66, her GP urged her to take a smear for a routine check-up. She goes to a midwife, her gynecologist has retired. She finds out there one approach “more human, all in delicacy”.

Above all, her doctor assures her that she will no longer need to repeat this test in the future because it is no longer essential, after a certain age, to impose a permanent check on the body of women. The retiree explains to Lose :

«I’m not saying that prevention is not necessary, but that there is a measure for everything and she is the only one to tell me. “

A shortage of medical gynecologists in France

There are now more and more liberal midwives: 20% had this status in 2012, there are 34% of them in 2021, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Solidarity and Health. An activity motivated in particular by the desire to devote more time to patients and to ensure their follow-up throughout their lives.

How midwives reconcile feminists with medicine

A possibility born in 2009, from the consequences ofa shortage of medical gynecologists. A growing shortage which is explained by the abolition, between 1987 and 2003, of this specialty.

According to the National Council of the Medical Order, the number of gynecologists in France has dropped below 1000 in January 2019. Thirteen departments had no medical gynecologists as of January 1, 2021.

However, the training has reopened, but the number of places in the boarding school seems insufficient to overcome the wave of retirements. This makes it increasingly difficult to make an appointment with a gynecologist and favors the consultation of a midwife. AndLéonore *, 25, is saddened:

“Often gynecologists do not accept new patients. During my studies, I changed cities every two years. It was difficult to start from scratch every time, to find new practitioners and to have an appointment in the best possible way only in 6 months … “

He discovers the existence of networks of “safe” and respectful LGBTI + caregivers, and at the same time learns thatyou can entrust the routine gynecological check-up to a midwife. Information that gradually makes its way and becomes more democratic.

Élise Audienne-Roy would like to remind you that midwives are now available to provide the first link in the care journey.

“It is absolutely our role to be in prevention, screening and that gynecologists are a second resource, if the pathology exists. Regarding the general practitioner: when he detects an anomaly, he sends the person examined by a specialist. “

“Consulting a midwife is a form of sisterhood in the face of dominant patriarchal medicine. “

Delfina, 25 years old

Therefore, midwives are less and less confined in our imagination to a subordinate function. Also, Delphine, 25, says:

“For me, consulting a midwife is also, as a feminist, a way to show that they exist and that they are worth something. It is a form of support, even of sisterhood, in the face of a dominant patriarchal medicine. ”

A female profession (97%), which brings the voice of women, in short, as she concluded Elise Audienne-Roy.

“Men don’t have these spaces to talk about their sex life, love life and their bodies. This is a real opportunity for women to have these consultations, you have to take it as such! “


Read also:

“After reading the testimonies of gynecological violence, I said to myself: ‘I will never go to the gynecologist'”

* Names have been changed

One credit: @nci / Unsplash

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