The Friends of Muskoka Midwives, a local community group that supports the Midwives of Muskoka through advocacy and education, has been of service to women in the community for over 12 years.
The group is “motivated by the belief that pregnancy is a state of health and childbirth is a normal and powerful experience. We believe FOMM plays a crucial role ensuring that our community is aware of its options for maternity care, which should be woman-centred and family inclusive. We concur that the extensive knowledge and absolute respect that midwives have for their clientele allows for this type of care; in essence, we believe that women need midwives.”
The Midwives of Muskoka was established 16 years ago. The Friends of Muskoka Midwives followed four years later when two mothers who had their babies with the Midwives of Muskoka decided they wanted everyone to know about their service and to spread the word that anyone can be a client, free of charge.
Midwives were “a huge part of a pivotal time in my life, in my womanhood, and on my journey to motherhood,” said Marcia Kuehnen, 11-year member of FOMM. “I am always so happy to encounter them all these years later with hugs and inquiries about the boys… they never forget a babe they caught! My work with FOMM allows me to see them often and recall that special time in my life.”
The majority of FOMM members are women whose babies have been caught by the Midwives of Muskoka but it isn’t a requirement to join.
“Our midwives are such an incredible resource in our community and it’s our goal to spread the word. They are especially great when it comes to first-time mothers because you get 45-minute appointments instead of 10 minutes at a doctor’s office. My kids are 11 and 8 and I’m still so passionate about spreading the word,” said Kuehnen.
Due to the pandemic, FOMM hasn’t been able to hold any of their in-person events. Those are a fundamental part of the group, said Kuehnen, as they thrive off of connection with other women.
“We feel pretty disconnected from their community,” she said. “Our goal is to return to our mandate and start reconnecting, evolving and remembering what we stand for.”
Past events have included birth-centred film nights; birth circles, which offer women the opportunity to share their birth stories in a confidential, safe space; workshops; and an annual outdoor picnic that gathers together the midwives and their past and present clients and their children.
Friends of Muskoka Midwives also advocates alongside the midwives for equal-rights bills, and shares petitions via social media, all through directives from the Association of Ontario Midwives and the local clinic.
And they provide a support system for women seeking resources in the area, including how to gain lactation support, information about home births and hospital births, and information on prenatal and postnatal care.
“Our goal moving forward is to bring women together again,” said Kuehnen. “We acknowledge and understand that people are tired of being on-screen but we really believe we as mothers need the connection.”
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