As a midwife who completely believes in natural birth and the body's ability to give birth without any intervention, I have been completely humbled and reminded that sometimes women do need assistance medically. I am not a midwife who avoids the hospital at all costs and I do completely rely upon the medical community to be my emergency back-up when needed, but there is something about walking into that institution three times in a row and asking for their help and respect. I have gotten mixed reviews when it comes to the nursing staff and their attitudes towards me and my clients, but for the most part I have been pleased, and with the last baby, especially grateful to the doctor and his staff who took care of us well.
I have learned through these last three labors that I am completely responsible to my clients and their baby to rely upon my instincts and my best judgment and watch for any abnormal signs along the way. When labor becomes ineffective or lacks progression then it is my duty to do what I can to make it normal again or transport to the hospital. I found it interesting that with these last three births I had to be the one to set a time limit or cut off for when we were going to transfer care. These sweet mothers wanted with all their hearts to deliver their babies in their homes and in their own environments. They wanted to labor quietly and efficiently and bring their child into this world with the labor team they had chosen. They had prepared for over nine months and together we had talked about what to expect and how to cope and then in a matter of hours their birth plans had dramatically changed and we were all trying to adjust to the new set of parameters for the birth. Psychologically and emotionally it felt like a roller coaster we were all on together. Atleast we had each other for support, but it still felt disappointing, frustrating and scary. The unknown loomed large for all of us and we had to have faith in the local hospital to see us through.
Thankfully, I can report that all three babies and moms fared well and came out healthy and happy after the experiences. Two mothers endured nearly 30 hours of labor and then went on to see their babies for the first time in the arms of a doctor or nurse. One mother's baby decided to come into this world a little too early, but she was ready and able to breathe and all went well with her, also.
These past few experiences have taught me to be flexible, thankful and aware. They have showed me how midwives and doctors need one another and there should be a seamless transfer of care, if needed. I have learned to surrender my objections and use the local, medical community to bring about healthy moms and babies if that is what needs to happen.
As an apprentice I worked with four, different midwives around the country. I remember distinctly one of them gloating about her low rate of transports for the year, as if it were a badge of honor. At the time I thought it was a wonderful compliment to her but now as I walk the journey of the midwife I understand the necessary place transports have in birth. I also greatly understand with these last few transfers that if I had not been willing to swallow my pride and go into the hospital I could've had less than favorable outcomes.
I believe all things happen for a reason and that we stand to learn something from each experience. With each situation I felt a distinct feeling that told me to transfer the moms. I felt I knew them and their babies enough to make the call if things didn't feel right anymore. I trusted in my intuition and listened to my heart while taking into account the parent's desires and fears. That's why midwives have such a wonderful rate of healthy moms and babies; we are present and aware for 9 months of prenatals and we take the time to know each parent's situation and personalities. We have felt the baby's position and heart beat each visit and are mindful of their little, distinct characters. We know the family and the home environment and have a complete picture so that when complications arise we know immediately if we can handle them ourselves at home or if we need to go with them to the hospital. On average each client receives over 13 hours of prenatal care and about 6 or 8 hours of postpartum support at home and in my office. With that much time shared it only seems natural that midwives truly know their clients and their situations.
I am humbled by the wisdom of birth and how each one has its own story to tell, its own path to take and its own wisdom to impart. Each experience deepens my understanding and my intellect for birth, and afterwards, I am amazed by its uniqueness and depth.
As Harriette Hartigan so beautifully put it; "Birth Is As Safe As Life Gets".