This is part of our series, "Meet the Experts". In this series of posts, we interview a wide variety of men and women involved in every aspect of the field of maternal health. Today, we welcome Leslie Payne, a Certified Professional Midwife in our local area.
1. Introduce yourself! Who are you, and what do you do in the field of maternal health?
I am Leslie Payne, a Certified Professional Midwife. I am a homebirth midwife in Lynchburg and the surrounding communities.
2. How would you describe your personal experience with motherhood (whether you’re a mother or not!)?
Being a mother was my first calling, and the best job I’ve ever had. Being a midwife is much the same. We have 5 grown children and 7, soon to be 8, grandchildren. I had a loving and committed mother who taught me to be strong and independent, and to question everything that doesn’t make sense.
3. How did you get involved in your current field?
I was called out of the community to be a midwife - just like in the old days. As younger women in my community began having babies at home, there was a need for a local midwife, and they called me to do it. I couldn’t say “No.” I worked hard, while homeschooling our children, to attain the training I needed, was very involved in the licensing effort for CPMs in Virginia, and have been practicing steadily for about 15 years now.
4. Why did you choose to work in your field?
As I mentioned above, this was an undeniable call for me. When I look back on my life, I see so many things there were preparing me for this job - my experience as a young woman, a mother, an apprentice, and now a midwife. It was a natural flow from one thing to the next. I feel so blessed that it happened this way, a way that is going by the wayside as our culture becomes more and more technologically-based. Basically, I loved being a mother so much that midwifery (with an interim step of being a La Leche League Leader for 20 years while the children were young) was the next logical and obvious step for me. When one of the midwives coming to our community asked me to attend births with her, it was one of the greatest honors of my life. And I still feel that way - it is an honor to work with every family I encounter.
5. In the vast field of maternal health, which area are you most passionate about, personally?
I want good, evidence-based data in the hands of all parents so that they can use that along with their deepest-held beliefs and instincts to make reasonable and good decisions about their health care and that of their families. Secondly, I want mothers to be honored and supported in every way possible, to do their best jobs, particularly in the postpartum period. I think our culture is terrible at this and it is a very basic need - critical to the basic structure of our communities. Healthy families make healthy people who make good, sound decisions and choices, leading to the best and strongest communities.
6. What do you see as an area of maternal health that needs more awareness, support and/or education?
The two things I mentioned above - evidence-based care and decision-making, and postpartum care and support.
7. If there were only one thing that you could share with the women we work with, what would it be?
Do not wish away any part of your experience of being a woman - as a girl, a young woman, a career woman, a mother, a career woman (again, maybe?!), a grandmother, a great-grandmother!! There is so much wisdom in our older generation. We need to spend more time with them - for everyone’s benefit. If we embrace every time of life, we will learn, grow, and be prepared for the next stage. AND… we can learn from and with each other all along the way.
8. If a woman that we serve has additional questions or would like more information, how could they go about contacting you?
Thanks so much for a chance to answer these questions!!
Thank YOU, Leslie!