“I’m a midwife; I bear witness to some of the most intense and wonderful moments in people’s lives. It’s an incredibly rewarding job, and the adrenaline and oxytocin from lovely births carry me through the sometimes grueling aspects of this work; twenty-four hour call shifts, weekend and night calls, the dissolution of a woman’s birth ‘plan’, taking care of women having still births, neonatal resuscitations, etc. It’s not for the faint of heart. Seeing the strength of my clients and bolstering their strength when they need it most, gives me strength. I also gather strength from my sister-midwives, both at my current workplace, as well as midwives I have learned alongside in the past.
During my own labor, it was helpful knowing that millions of women had done this before, and thousands of women were laboring at the same time as me, all bringing new life into this world. Having the weight of my warm, wet and wriggly baby placed on my chest was one of the best feelings in my life, and in that moment, I felt that I could do anything in the world.
In labor, just like in life, there are waves of contractions or pain. As a midwife, I remind women to stay present; to not dwell on what was or worry about what is to come but to just get through this contraction. At the end of the first stage of labor is a phase called ‘transition’ (when the cervix dilates from 8 – 10 centimeters) – one of the hardest parts of labor. This is when the contractions are the most intense, and the woman may be tired and starting to doubt herself. It is during transition that I often remind women that they are stronger than they think or realize, and that I know they can do it. In the second stage of labor when a woman is pushing her baby out into this world, I remind women to take the breaks in between contractions, and to gather her strength for the next big push. These three reminders are advice we all could heed in our daily lives.”
“A midwife must possess the hand of a lady, the eyes of a hawk and the heart of a lion” – 16th century proverb.