So – my 8 year old son and I are travelling in the car just a few hours after I have returned from a birth. He turns to me and says….
“Mum, you really do have an amazing job – helping mummies to have their babies – what sort of things do you do for them?”
I looked at his beautiful face, full of admiration and curiously asked “Well every birth is different Peter, sometimes birth is straightforward and easier for the mummy, and other times it can be a bit tougher so I need to do different things. What do you think I do at a birth? “
He avoided the question by responding with one…“Can you tell me what you did last night that was special mum?”
What I wanted to tell him was…. “Well, I met the mummy when she was still at home in labour, she was doing really well, but she was a little scared. I reassured her, and gave her a hug, and told her that she was doing brilliantly. She found a lot of pain was in her back, so I rubbed it gently, and reminded her to breathe slowly. I helped her to get into a position that she found comfortable, and I reminded her to rest whilst she could. I dimmed the lights, and shut the curtains as the sun rose, and put on some beautiful music that she had chosen. I encouraged her to eat little snacks of food so that she could keep lots of energy and held a drinking straw to her lips so that she didn’t get thirsty.
For a little while, every time she had a surge, she turned around and leant on me, and I held her and swayed in sync with her rhythm. When her contractions were getting closer together, I asked if she thought it was time to go to the hospital, and I helped her partner to get everything into the car and made mum as comfortable as possible. I reminded her of some breathing strategies she could use in the 10 minute journey, and promised to be there when she arrived to help her out of the car.
When we arrived the midwife welcomed us into the pool room, and I started to run the pool, whilst the midwife introduced herself and read the mums birth preferences. As soon as it was deep enough I helped the mum to undress and then lowered her slowly into the water. At one point I held a sick bowl for her, and held her hair out of her face and then gave her fresh water to rinse her mouth, and used a clean flannel to wipe her face with.
I pressed on her hips to help with the pain, and held her in my arms when she had a little cry. When she got hot in the pool, I placed a chilled flannel across her shoulders, and held another in the palm of my hand for her to flop her head onto between the surges. I looked her in the eye, and told her that she was strong and amazing, and reminded her how far she had came when she began to waiver. I encourage her to listen to her body, and think of her baby, sending him love as they went through this incredible journey together. I asked her to focus, and reminded her to trust in herself, her ability, and her body. When she used gas and air I guided her to breathe slowly and calmly. When she felt the urge to push, I kept quiet – allowing her to guide her baby out in her own rhythm, working with each surge in the most natural way possible. When her baby was crowning, I reminded her to listen to her midwife who was asking her for small, soft breaths as the baby gently emerged from her. I sat back silently whilst she lifted her baby from the water, and she and her partner greeted their son for the very first time, full of smiles, and tears and relief, and I discreetly took some photos of their first moments together.
Ten minutes later I helped the mum to get out of the pool whilst she carried her baby. Once she was on a bed I wrapped a dressing gown over her shoulders to keep her warm whilst she waited for her placenta to birth, and quietly prepared the box that it would travel in for encapsulating.
After mum had fed the baby, and had a cup of tea herself, I ran her a bath, and then supported her to the bathroom whilst the dad enjoyed some skin to skin. I helped her wash and dress, and then finally I helped her get comfortable on the bed, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and thanked her for allowing me to be part of her amazing journey. “
But of course he is only 8, and wouldn’t understand, so instead I smiled and told him that “I held her hand and made her feel safe”
But even with my abbreviated version he recognized the value of supporting a woman in labour and responded “See mum, what you do is extraordinary!”
Heart melting moment of self pride.