Some days, my work as a Midwife is just magical and it blows my mind.
There are days when I am tired, disheartened and not really too sure why I am at work and then there are others where, for whatever serendipitous reason, I am meant to be at work to care for a particular woman. Friday was that day!
We may have crossed paths a couple of years ago, but neither of us can recall meeting when a previous baby was born. That baby’s birth was memorable for other reasons, but our meeting was not. Friday will be etched in our minds, as the birth of this beautiful baby came with a bit of difficulty for this woman. Well, quite a lot of difficulty actually.
She was getting close to the gestation when her other babies were born, and she was booked in to be induced by her primary care giver. She didn’t want to be induced really, was constantly asking herself and her care providers if this was the right thing to do. She felt she was forcing the baby to be born when it may not have been not quite ready, she was worried being induced would result in interventions she did not want including a complicated caesarean section. She was worried she would be put on a timeline and would be made to labour and give birth within a certain time of day. She was constantly thinking about all the things she didn’t want. She was neglecting all the things she did want.
I started my shift and walked into the birthing room to introduce myself, only to be met with a woman visibly upset and trying desperately to mop up the tears streaming down her face wanting to make sense of what was about to happen. All the negative words were coming out of her mouth between breaths for air, she just couldn’t seem to bring her thoughts around. I sat on the end of the bed, looked her in the eye and asked …
“What DO you want?” She stopped crying for a moment and answered, “I want to go home.” I just said “OK then. If that is what you want, why don’t you. You don’t have to be induced if it is causing so much worry.” She seemed to take a deep breath at that point as if she had never considered she could say ‘No’. She didn’t realise it was ok to say no, and she could go home and re-plan the induction for another time and day.
Her primary care provider came into the room soon after and was met by further tears. We suggested maybe a walk and some fresh air might be beneficial.
At that point, I asked her if was ok if I offered some advice. I suggested she stop thinking about what she didn’t want and think about what she did want. I explained the brain cannot recognise the word DON’T. All the brain hears, is all the other words around it. For example, “I DON’T want to be induced” or “I DON’T want a caesarean section”, the brain will focus on the word’s induction and caesarean section. She took that on board and was thankful. She wanted to go to the nearby beach, so I suggested she talk together with her husband there and discuss what they did want, also thinking about their other two children and what this new baby will bring to their family. Talk with the baby also and tell the baby it is loved, and it will be welcomed warmly into the family.
They returned an hour and a half later feeling much brighter and rejuvenated.
She was feeling comfortable with the decision to go ahead with breaking her membranes but wanted time to allow her body to go into labour on its own without the use of hormones to get contractions started. I had explained earlier what position the baby was in and maybe the reason she had not gone into spontaneous labour (other than the fact she wasn’t in the right mindset) was because the baby wasn’t quite in a nice tucked up position. She felt comfortable trying a few different position changes and postures to try and get the baby to rotate around.
We tried robozo sifting under her belly; walking/pacing; lift and tuck with some tightening she was starting to have; but still no strong regular contractions. I then suggested some acupressure. I positioned her comfortable on the bed, with the bed manoeuvred into more like an armchair. I rotated between the four areas of her body using pressure on each of the points for 5mins at a time over a half hour period. She fell asleep. After leaving her in a deep sleep for about 15 mins, she woke, so I then started a round of pressure again for another 20-30 mins. Again, she fell asleep. This was exactly what she needed – a good sleep and a chance to go into herself. I could see the baby moving, and she experienced a couple of stronger contractions at this point in time. I encouraged her to get up and go to the toilet and try some nipple stimulation at the same time. I dimmed the lights and left her in peace to concentrate.
I was sitting out at the desk doing some paperwork and her husband came out after 20 mins and said “We are on for young and old! The acupressure has worked a treat.” I left them to it for another 15 mins before going in to find her completely focussed and having 2-3 minutely contractions. She was standing, leaning over the bed, but wanted to try another position. I suggested some kneeling lunges, trying to provide more space for the baby to further rotate through the pelvis – she alternated each leg, after 3-4 contractions over a period of about half an hour. She was working hard. She got up to the toilet and started to become very vocal. Things were getting closer. She was feeling a lot of pressure on her rectum now. So back down on the mat on the floor. She was tired, she was finding it difficult to keep going. She was getting encouragement from her husband and also from me. Her primary care provider was present and also encouraging. As this was her third baby, we all knew once she started pushing, it wouldn’t take long.
Encouragement. Position change. Sips of water. Encouragement.
Pushing. She finally felt ready to let her baby be born. She finally realised she was about to give birth and she had done it all by herself with minimal intervention.
She remained on the mat on the floor and the baby was passed underneath her, up into her arms. She was elated. She couldn’t believe she did it. Both she and her husband looked down at the baby, welcomed the baby and then revealed the baby’s sex to all of us in the room – it was a BOY! The tears flowed yet again, but not just from her this time. The whole room.
Friday, I was witness and a part of magic happening.
I was not only a counsellor; a supportive care provider; an encouraging hand; an enabler; a witness; but more importantly a Midwife doing what she loves doing.