Tigerlilly Quinn: Thank you Midwives

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Thank you Midwives

I was unaware until today that it is 'International Day Of The Midwife' until I saw this post by Fiona which prompted me to wrote my own thank you letter. I wrote about Wilf's birth here, it was without a doubt the most amazing experience of my life. 
Someone once said to me 'why would you want a natural/drug free birth? You wouldn't have your tooth out without anaesthetic..' it struck me then, and even more now what a weird analogy that is. To liken having a tooth removed to giving birth to your baby? Weird for sure. 
I'm not anti epidurals, I think there are times where they are necessary yes, some people experience pain at very different levels, some people are utterly exhausted having been in labour for days. I was only in active labour for 7 hours and my whole labour experience was only 12 hours, I was exhausted for sure and I don't know that I could have carried on over 24 hours with no help. I wouldn't judge someone who had opted for this course of medication, I don't think you are any 'stronger' for not having it..(aren't we all strong?)  However I do think it leads to intervention and I do think that being calm and relaxed and prepared for labour can mean you barely feel pain..sometimes feel no pain at all. 
When I found out I was pregnant I was immediately determined to have a home birth, a decision which I thought I would have to justify to the midwives at my check in appointment. I thought for some reason they would say I was too young or that I should see how it goes with my first birth. I was pleasantly surprised when my midwife Nikki not only said that it was ok she also seemed very happy and excited about my decision. Instead of the 'well don't get too into the idea you'll probably have to go to hospital' advice I had been getting from various people she said 'homebirths are lovely, you'll have a great time' and I did. 
When in the early stages of labour Nikki came to visit me, she told me how fantastically I was doing, that she wouldn't examine me as it can ring alarm bells with the hospital if I haven't given birth in a set time after this. She wanted to ensure my birth wasn't about ticking off boxes but about making it the amazing experience it could be (and was). Instead she encouraged me,made me feel calm and advised she would pop back in a bit. 
On her second arrival (at 3pm) I was examined for the first time and told I was 9cm. Nikki sat by the side of pool with my mum and every so often offering encouraging remarks about my progress but mostly sitting and observing and letting me get on with my thing. My mum wiping my brow and offering me water. Nikki had brought along some gas & air which she left in the hall so that It would only be brought in if/when requested. (I never felt the need for it) A few hours later a second midwife called Frances arrived to join Nikki, she had been a midwife for 40 years and was another calming presence in the room. She told me 'nature takes it time' just when I was feeling tired and was exactly what I wanted to hear. To let nature take over and let my body do what it knew how to do.
When I was in the process of pushing, both my mum & Frances told me to lean against them (I still remember hoping I wasn't hurting them) whilst Nikki delivered Wilf. 
Wilf was placed in my arms straight away and helped to my breast. My mum brought everyone tea and mince pies and by the time they left it was 9pm. I was told as we were drinking tea that Nikki was meant to finish her shift at 5pm and as she had the car her husband had also been staying late at his work! Despite this she never made me feel like there was any rush or that she wanted to be anywhere but helping me. Frances in turn had travelled from a funeral to get to Wilf's birth (she told me it was actually quite therapeutic to come from burying life to seeing it come into the world).
My mother is a midwife, I remember as a child her coming home from work tired and in desperate need of a long hot soak. I never thought about how amazing the work she did was until I became pregnant and gave birth to my son.
Midwives are for the majority super heroes without the cloaks. There a few people I think contributed to making Wilf's birth the beautiful moment it was. Tom for all his support throughout my whole pregnancy and birth, my mother for making me feel so safe and calm, my NCT teacher who gave me further confidence in the process of natural birth and parenting and my amazing midwife Nikki. 
When Wilf was a few days old we thanked Nikki with a card and some chocolate..which really is kind of laughable..but what do you give someone who helped make one of the most important moments of your life the amazing moment it was? But I guess its just their job.
"More babies were born in England in 2010 than in any year since 1972, whilst births to women aged 30 or older were at their highest since 1946. The NHS is desperately short of midwives, and the shortage affects every region of England. We need urgent action from the Government, including a target to recruit the equivalent of 5000 more full-time midwives. Care for women but especially babies at the very start of life should be shielded from the cuts."
Please please sign this petition and ensure women get the birth experience they need and want. 


Lil said...

agree re. epidurals, ( and I can tell you now you've been through birth lol ) - and obviously this was just my experience plenty of people have them with no probs.

warning- please don't read if preggers ;)

I had an epidural very early in labour with my daughter ( she was a month early) and then everything just stopped over the next 4 hours, she was in distress and eventually they said if nothing happens in 20 mins its down for a C section, then the doctor wandered off for 45 mins, when he came back her heart rate was dangerously low she was stuck fast and they ended up dragging her out with these long handled forceps, I had an emergency blood transfusion after a huge haemorrhage was left with internal and external injuries that took a long long time to heal and mental scars that took a lot longer, my daughter was born with two black eyes, a badly cut face, navy blue and not breathing. I got to see her after about 45 mins, then they took her away again till the next day. Im not saying it was all down to epidural but I guess one intervention leads to another. and god I felt so guilty as if I had done something wrong that led to the whole mess.

however my son was born with just a bit of gas and air ( mostly whilst having stitches) and just a few minor tears in a birth centre mainly thanks to my amazing midwife who helped me get over the trauma of my first birth ( i was terrified and begged for a c section but she talked me out of it), stayed with me at home till i wanted to go in, was calm and cool and gave me every encouragement - I gave her chocolates too ;)

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

Oh My Gosh you poor thing! I think the statistics re: epidurals and intervention are quite high. I dont think they should not be allowed because I think sometimes its what people need but I do think they are just offered when there are other things they can try first. I know of friends who asked for ones and their MW's have suggested alternatives first (gas & air/poo/tens machine) and they have gone on to not need one, had a natural birth and no intervention.
I'm so glad you had a healing experience with your son, I think birth centres are pretty much the same as having a home birth in many ways. They sound lovely, and my friends that have birthed there had great experiences! These midwives must eat a lot of Chocolate! x

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