What do you do for...?

It seems that lately, I've been getting asked the same sorts of questions over and over again. :) Thank you for asking them, btw, because it is through you that I've realized a common denominator... as well as a common misconception about what I (and others) actually do. I'm hoping that this post will bring some clarity.
Some of you may have noticed a recent discussion going on over at the Wise Woman Fertility facebook page. Or some might be standing around when a friend, neighbor or potential client is asking me "so what do you do if someone has this (fill in the blank)?"
Tonight I received an email with the same basic tag line..."I know a person with the following problem and am sending them your way...but what will you suggest/do to solve this problem."
The basic question alludes to something akin to a mathematical formula. "If a person has problem X, what is the Y that you will give them?"

I'm here to tell you that there is no such equation. No such formula.
Women (and men...and children, for that matter) are not cookie-cutter images of one another. And even though I'm certain you already know that (so do I), it is amazing how quickly we want to fall right back into that way and pattern of thinking.

A wonderful and Wise Woman, in her own right, posted a question on my page about squatting and whether or not I feel it is safe for pregnancy before (some magical number) of 37 weeks.
So, let's take squatting.
I love squatting. Squatting is great. And it's a seemingly simple issue, isn't it? To squat or not to squat... and when.

The fact of the matter is that I no longer am able to look at the world in this way. While squatting might be safe and even beneficial for many women during pregnancy, for others, it could cause major problems. The only reason I know this is because I have had women come to my practice and they are doing something that for many or most other women would be just fine... but for them, it is causing infertility or other related women's health issues. I often times hear "but other women do this and they are perfectly fine!" And that, of course, is true. The trick is finding the unique issues at play for each particular woman. Finding her issues..finding what is right for her, specifically. And it takes time, tools and experience to do that.

Squatting for an average mother might be absolutely fine and beneficial...but for some women, it could cause pre-term labor. For some, it could cause other complications. In my practice, I have to look at and weigh every factor. This is what a Holistic View of Health is all about. This is also responsible practice.

I need to ask the women about how they use their bodies, what their specific case histories are and more, to get a really clear picture about what is and what isn't safe for them, specifically. Nothing can be taken for granted, when we are talking about women who either have problems or who could cause problems in their pregnancies.
In other words, we could learn that squatting causes pre-term labor for a mother by just giving it a go...but there is so much at stake. We need to make some educated decisions about everything that we do in order to "prescribe" or make "suggestions."
This, of course, is intertwined with another issue that was addressed both in that same conversation on my page as well as in the email I received. And this is the issue of self-administering of herbal (or other) medicines.
When someone asks me, specifically, what they should do for (fill in the blank) without wanting to make an appointment or having a paid consultation, they hope and intend to get my "quick answer," my formula, if you will, and then apply it to themselves or others.
The problem is, there are "many roads that lead to Rome" and many potential courses of treatment for the same problem in a variety of people.
I make my decisions about which course of treatment to advise using a combination of experience, knowledge, research and intuition to come to an educated and focused treatment plan for each individual client. I cannot have a quick answer or "one-size-fits-all" approach. I don't believe in it, because it doesn't work. We see this time and time again in Western Medicine. More often than not, my clients come to me from that World because it hasn't worked, often after many years of trying.
Of course there is information out there. Anyone can do a google search or ask other women what they've used or what they've heard and try to use it, themselves but the "know-how" and experience is a bit harder to come by and that is why we hire someone to advise us.

I can't tell you how many women have come to me, after trying every herb and supplement under the sun, willy-nilly ("My doctor said to try this," "This midwife I know said to try that," etc...) and they wonder why they persist in having infertility or other complications. It's not so simple!

I was talking this over with my husband (an Engineer who moonlights as a computer tech) and we discussed why people hire a guy (or gal) to fix their computers. After all, the information is on the internet.

For example, I'm having a problem with my webcam right now in my computer. So I've been trying to troubleshoot. I've uninstalled things, I've reinstalled things. I've asked people in online chat forums. And nothing is working. And what's worse, I may have caused some serious damage to my computer in the process.

Well, now I need to bother my poor, overworked husband, who already has a pretty good idea of what he needs to do to solve the problem, though now he's not sure how many other things I've affected while I was trying to self-solve. He may have to do a Google search himself, when he finally gets the time to fix the problem. But when he does it, it will go much faster, because he knows what he is looking for and what information he can just toss out along the way.

That's a lot like anything else. Yes, there is information out there, but you run the risk of not fixing the problem, or worse doing (major) damage in the process. And, while you may stumble upon the right answer for you, it doesn't mean that you will be able to "recommend" that same thing for somebody else "in your position." This is one of the reasons that alternative medicine has gotten such a bad rap. People say, "Oh, I tried that stuff and it didn't work." (And so on.)

The other issue is that, even if you DO take the time and research needed to find what is right for you on your own, it is faster and safer to hire someone who has the experience and information to point you in the right direction and help you navigate those very vast waters of research that must be waded through.
Often times, the retort is that people don't have money to hire another person to advise them. In my line of work, the alternative is to go to the kupah (Israeli HMO) and get your socialized and standardized Western Medical treatment, for "free" (of course, your tax dollars are paying for that, but it feels free when we aren't handing the money over at the specific moment that we are being "seen.") And what's more, the concept of not having a "protocol," such as there is in Western Medicine, is down right foreign to many. This means that coming to me will yield no "pat" or simple answers that are able to be rattled off without thought or background. And it costs money.

While I understand that money is tight (for most), when we really need help, we will find a way to hire someone for their services. I've personally done this many times over, with the plumber, landlord, private doctors, teachers and so on.

It would be great if everyone could work for free. Unfortunately, it's just not possible. (Nor is it, ultimately, very healthy for either party, but that's a whole 'nother topic. :) )

do work on a payment plan for my clients, who are in such a situation, and this makes the care affordable and possible for most anybody. It also makes both of us feel responsible and positive about the services rendered.

The bottom line is that each woman (family, situation...) is different and to really find what works, she needs to be treated and viewed as such by someone who has the knowledge and experience to do so.


Chavelamomela said...

What a fabulous post! I know from my own family members' experiences in their own field of expertise how frustrating it is when people come over for "quick advice" on the spot, but then don't want to pay for the full diagnosis and treatment they need to really address the problem (whether its technical, legal, or medical). Good advice that is tailor-made for your specific situation is not free. And it's worth the price.

Wombmama said...

Great post! Wanted to mention that squatting is also not a good position for birth for mama's that have a bladder or rectal prolapse. This can cause further issues. Christine Kent at Whole Woman Village is an expert on this and as a mama who has a prolapse I just wanted to pass this info along! :)