Midwives and Mediators: Facilitating new beginnings

Midwives and mediators have much in common.  I’m convinced.

Last week I read Ami McKay‘s excellent, and popular, novel, The Birth House.

Set in small town Nova Scotia in the early 20th century, the story initially orients around an elder midwife, and her young protege.  Using traditional herbs and remedies, they help local women through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Then a new (male) doctor comes to town, promising fast, painless childbirth.  Local women are asked to choose; modern technology or traditional ways, science or art, clinical setting or home birth.

Fast forward to the end of the book, and the lessons learned by the young midwife, as she offers up her own home as a birthing house

“These are the only things I will ask of the women who come here:

  • No woman or child shall be turned away
  • No payment shall be required
  • No idle gossip or cruel words shall cross the threshold
  • No one may attend a birth unless requested by the mother
  • Mother and child (or children) shall stay in confinement for at least nine days after the birth, or until the mother’s been churched
  • Well-wishers may not enter unless the mother approves
  • The mother’s home must be clean and tidy, her household chores looked after, and supper enough for a week must be waiting for her when she returns home”

I love those rules.  They highlight human-friendly service delivery, and acknowledge what’s really important.

And, holding up human-friendly service delivery as the prize, what similar set of rules translate to mediation? How about:

  • Everyone who seeks mediation is valued equally by the mediator,
  • even those with limited pocket books.
  • Coercion or bullying is not tolerated in a mediation session.  Attitude and behaviour precede resolution.
  • Mediation is always voluntary.
  • The mediation should do no net harm.  Things are difficult enough as they are.
  • Everyone must agree on who can participate in the mediation. Safety and belonging are paramount.
  • Settlement is resolution, today and tomorrow.  (nurture the new birth… of an agreement)

What do you think?

What affinity, between midwives and mediators, stands out for you?

Photo credit: Hamed on Flickr

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