Today is International Midwives Day and I wanted to recognize all of the selfless, dedicated and amazing midwives we have in our community!
“Every woman deserves a midwife.” This is the phrase that captures your eyes as you look upon the back of the T-shirts worn by the women who attended our daughter’s birth. When we were pregnant with our first child, we knew we wanted to find someone to work alongside of us to foster a healthy, educational, and empowered pregnancy and birth experience. It was important for us to be able to truly develop a relationship with someone, spend time with them asking our questions, and even be offered the information we didn’t know to ask about. As we began looking around at our options, it became very clear that what we were seeking was a midwife.
Our first visit with her sealed the deal. We walked into the comforting reception area of what looked like a Victorian bed and breakfast, and then were led into what looked like a living room. We sat on the couch, were offered a cup of tea, and waited only momentarily for our midwife to come in. She sat next to us and spent over an hour explaining the care we could expect there and her expectations for and experience in achieving a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and she handed us our first of many packets of information to read over.
The visit frequency was the same as an OB schedule would be, but our visits were an hour long. Each appointment encompassed the medical checks necessary to ensure the pregnancy was going well, and more information about topics related to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care. The goal was not to impose any choice or decision on us, but to allow us to know all our options and to make educated decisions. She knew us by name, she knew our fears and our desires, and she truly wanted us to have the most beautiful experience possible.
When it came time for our child to be born, we called and spoke with her directly and she guided us through what to do and when. My labor went smoothly, and when I began to feel the urge to push, she was right there in front of me, leading me in what to do but letting me do what my body was so strongly directing on its own. It wasn’t until I looked at our birth video that I realized she had sat quietly in the corner of the room the entire time I labored, getting up only occasionally to check the heartbeat of the baby. In my mind, she wasn’t even there most of the time; in reality, she was holding the space, making sure everything was okay, and allowing me to labor of my own accord.
That midwife was no longer seeing clients when my second pregnancy came, and we knew that our decision was firm on working with another midwifery model. It was important to us to be known as a family, not a file number, and to feel like we were being invested in, as much as we were investing in our care. The birth of our daughter went quickly and very smoothly. As she was being born, they allowed the unexpected. I had felt her head crowning and placed my hands against my own perineum in the birth tub for some counter-pressure. One of the midwives gently moved in front of me and kept watch over her safety. Without previous discussions or even a thought in my mind, our daughter was born into my hands, and I gently brought her to my chest. She stayed there for over ten minutes. Our eyes gazed at each other, she was comforted by the familiar sound of my heartbeat and warmed by the heat of my body and the water, and she was so peaceful and alert.
I deserved a midwife to empower me to have the birth I so strongly desired: one that was very quiet, self-led, not pressured or invaded, and surrounded by women who truly knew me.
Every woman deserves a midwife.