What does a midwife do ? I was listening to a song on the radio and thinking about my job – what makes me love it like I do ?
Yes of course I get frustrated but I have such wonderful moments of warmth and happiness – moments which stand still in time for me – as an example when I see a woman become a mother for the first time – when I see a father cry at the sight of his newborn , when I say to the partner of the new mother “GET ON THE BED!!” so he/she transform the bed into the family space and he/she looks at me in surprise – I also see sadness but my role is to make sure that during the sadness important memories are saved , like photographs , pauses in time and to provide reassurance that life will go on.
I was with a future family a few weeks ago laying the foundations of the beginning of our relationship which would form the basis of labour care when the woman’s mother came in “I was your community midwife !!” I said to her ” you were very busy & I remember fitting in your antenatal appointments around your work commitments ” we hugged and chatted about our children. This wasn’t fate- it was the universe playing it’s part re-connecting and connecting .
I get to meet new people each day and become their friend , supporter , adviser , informer , personal assistant , carer , room service provider , finder outer , cleaner and enabler . My first aim when I meet a pregnant woman is to become her ally so that she feels safe and able to speak away . Tracey Emin the artist has released a series of neon light pieces and one of them really resonates with what I do as a midwife here it is “Keep me safe”
Yes I do blood pressures , palpations , put up infusions , cannulate , take blood tests ,give medications but I focus on the WAY I do these things – I always try to do them with kindness and explanation . Skin to skin contact should be facilitated with explosive kindness – midwives don’t need to touch babies as much as they do – I have now started to question my own practice about this. I see a real change in the behaviour of newborns when I handle them so I ask the partner to place the newborn on the scales in a prone position which reduces stress and crying in the newborn baby (after prolonged skin to skin contact of course!) and I direct the position of the newborn as a hands free situation – if I need to hold a newborn I think first “do I really need to hold this baby ?” And I talk to the newborn first explaining why I am going to hold and ask if that’s ok .
At the moment there is a cloud over midwifery – will we be able to continue as exclusive care givers to women , families and newborns in pregnancy , birth and the postnatal period ? My answer to this is to ask every midwife in the UK the following questions…
“Are you or have you ever practised autonomously ? Have you ever overrid a decision by a consultant or senior obstetrician ? Or have you persuaded an obstetrician to change his/her mind about the plan of care for a woman ? Have you worked on a birth centre ? Have you questioned why you are a midwife ? Have you looked upon guidelines as GUIDE LINES ? Have you spoken out in the operating theatre when you feel the woman should be holding the baby ? Have you changed a woman’s position in labour in order to facilitate and increased chance of vaginal birth ? Have you avoided man made oxytocin by 1.dimming the lights in the birth room 2.shutting the blinds 3. Not allowing other staff to come into room to look for equipment ?
If you’ve answered YES to any of OR ALL of these questions – then you are a midwife my friend .
Thank you for reading , with much love , Jenny ❤️️
Ps as usual I LOVE any feedback ❤️️