I’ve mentioned before that I love my job, and that I’m really passionate about it.
Quite often, when I’m working, people will comment on what a lovely job it must be, to spend my shifts cuddling babies all day, and they are right, cuddling babies is one of the really lovely parts of the role.
But, there’s so much more to it than that.
I love being a midwife, for SO MANY reasons.
I love being able to sit with women and their families in the antenatal clinic, as they discuss their wishes, fears, hopes, and dreams, as their bellies grow and they draw nearer to their birth.
I love hearing the plans, and research, and discussions that families bring with them to clinic, and I love being witness to the empowerment that comes with knowledge and information.
I love placing my hands over the stretched skin of those bellies, and greeting the baby underneath, as it wriggles and rolls under my hands.
I love feeling the joy that fills up the room when the galloping heart beat is heard booming out of the doppler (either for the first time, or for the hundredth!), and I love helping excited older siblings to feel “their baby” in their mama’s belly.
I love answering the phone to a labouring mother, who through gritted teeth, and concentrated breaths, asks me if I think she should come to hospital yet.
I love meeting the families as they enter our birth suites, loaded with bags, and pillows, bellies, and anticipation, and I love working with them to facilitate the birth they are hoping for, to the absolute best of my ability.
I love sitting with women in labour, holding the space, as they roar, swear, or whisper with their contractions, and I love working with the intense power, and strength that they possess. They never know how strong they are in that moment, but I do.
A friend said to me recently, “you really have seen me at my absolute worst in labour”.
No, love. I’ve seen you at your absolute best.
In the instant that a mother meets her child for the very first time, time stops for her. She’s counting the fingers, she’s counting the toes, and she’s falling in love.
There is nothing, NOTHING to compare to the honour of being present to witness that.
Of course, amidst all of that joy, there are sad stories too; the nightmare situations of miscarriages and stillbirths, premature births, sick babies, and sick mothers. Those families need midwives, possibly even more than the families with the happy stories do.
Believe it or not, I love this part too.
Being present, and aware, and empathetic, is such a crucial part of the midwifery role, and I think we often underestimate the value of really simple kindnesses. Less talking, more listening. Less instructing, more gentle prompting. Less assumptions, more open hearts, and gentle silences. Less fixing (because there’s some things you just can’t fix), and more just being present.
Before I started my midwifery grad year, I was talking to a colleague of mine about how anxious I felt about being able to provide the right care to the mothers I would meet in my first year.
She squeezed my arm and said earnestly: “what really matters, is how you make her feel. She’s going to make choices at times that may be different to what you think she needs. What matters, is that she feels heard, respected, and safe. Above all else, she needs to feel safe. Make that your goal”.
If this doesn’t represent the most perfect philosophy for pregnancy care that I have ever heard, I don’t know what does.
I became a midwife, not because I love cuddling babies (although that part is nice), but because I believe in women. I believe they are strong, and courageous, and selfless, and brave. And in the throes of labour and birth (no matter WHAT kind of birth), I get to see that woman in her most incredibly raw, yet phenomenally powerful state. I get to stand in that space and support her to be the absolute best that she can be.
And that for me, my loves, is the absolute privilege of being a midwife,