~By The SL Parade’s Heather Anne, Contributing Writer~
Midwives have been assisting women in giving birth for hundreds of years, and continue to do so all over the world to this day. However, the life of a midwife through the years has not been an easy one; nonetheless, they have continuously fought for equal rights in an effort to assist their fellow sisters. This is significantly important because, in a world widely ruled by men, not to mention religions and fear, midwives have historically been persecuted as a consequences of helping others.
Men also began to take over in the field without developing a proper understanding of the birthing process; this lack of understanding, in turn caused many more needless and unnecessary deaths to women and children. However, this didn’t stop them from banning midwives from practicing their ancient art.
Throughout the birth of the medical revolution in the United States, midwives were completely outlawed from assisting in births, all at the cost of women who were not afforded the right to decide how they could bring their babies into the world. Yet despite this obstacle, it still didn’t stop midwives from practicing their profession in secret. In fact, there were more women giving birth than could be tracked by the law and medical associations…especially in rural and under served areas.
In turn, these women kept the practice alive and well…all until the women of the world could gain the strength and the right to speak out for what they wanted and deserved.
II. Midwifery today…RL and SL Style
Fortunately, in 2016, there has been a resurgence of Midwives in the United States, more so because century old laws have started to change. Today, a midwife must undergo professional training and licensure to practice their art. In turn, many midwives offer so much more to their patients than a Obstetrician could ever provide. Like their historical counterparts, today‘s midwives develop a deep bond of sisterhood with the women they assist. Often each clients care is individualized, complete with appropriate education and support. This, along with counseling, a referral service to connect clients to other organization, and consultation beyond the actual birthing process encompass a profession that is making a striking reemergence into mainstream society.
Like in Real Life, Midwifery is making a representative comeback in Second Life, too. In fact, Maura Swashbuckler not only practices Midwifery in Second Life, she also works as a Midwife in Real Life. In fact, Swashbuckler relies on her Real Life expertise to virtually practice her profession…long before actually delivering a Real Life baby.
Swashbuckler’s idea to merge her Real Life profession with an Second Life one began while role playing in the Old Western-styled Deadwood Role Play Sim. Functioning in this sim as a healer and Mama Alpha Midwife/doctor, Swashbuckler expresses nothing but gratitude for the Deadwood Role Play SIM, specifically for the opportunities it gave her to support real women who have had Real Life experiences in not only being pregnant, but in giving birth as well. Because some women she has virtually encountered have experienced pregnancies and births that have been horrific, Swashbuckler is able to talk with them, as well as assist them in processing and finding peace despite having these negative experiences.
After completing her real life training, Maura recreated her Second Life practice in a very small rural mountain town located in the Southwestern part of the United States. When describing how she successfully extended her services to the Second Life community, she explains, “It has moments of being surreal…many of my experiences in Deadwood have actually come to be in real life.”
In fact, Swashbuckler’s experiences with serving as a Midwife within the Second Life community has made it easier for her to better perform her occupation in Real Life…and her degree of ease in handling extremely difficult situations has been duly noted by the profession’s most seasoned midwives, who can not believe that Maura has only been practicing Midwifery in Real Life for such a short time. Swashbuckler pays homage for her Midwifery experiences in Second Life by stating,”I gained a lot of self-confidence during my role playing time….much like a pilot does when training in a flight simulator.”
While giving birth in world is not entirely the same as giving birth in real life, role playing with someone who is knowledgeable about the birthing process can give you an entirely different level of experience. Though Maura Swashbuckler has successfully aligned her Real Life profession with her Second Life one, there is no telling what this amazing lady might do next.
To get an idea of others who practice Midwifery in Second Life and Real Life, please take a look at this great Power Point presentation prepared by Sarah Stewart, Education and Social Media Consultant and Dr. Deborah Davis who is an Associated Professor in Midwifery Practice Development and Research at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia and at the South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service below:
Here is some highlighted biographical information about Sarah Stewart, one of the presenters of the above Power Point presentation…