My Private Midwife shared something really important with me today.
Once a month, Trish visits me at home for a couple of hours. We drink decaf tea (my infliction), she checks the baby over, asks how I’m doing and we have a good old catch up about life, work and littles.
And she always leaves me with a fridge-full of food for thought.
Today, as with every visit, we got to talking about birth.
Trish attended the birth of 22 babies just last year and when I asked what her ‘overall number’ was she replied that she had stopped counting when she passed 1,000.
That’s a lot of birthing experience.
And yet, Trish told of how unique each birth had been, and continues to be.
How one experience is almost always completely unlike the next; from woman to woman, as well as between babies one, two, three and more.
In her 23 years of experience, Trish has seen women having stop-start labours with their third babies; she has witnessed first time mums labour at home, independently and so confidently that she has almost missed the birth.
Trish has predicted big babies, called in numerous emergencies when something felt wrong and she has been surprised and awed by what us women can do when the going gets tough and labour gets really tricky.
But in all these varying birth experiences, Trish recognises one common thread that ties together each of these extraordinary occurrences.
Us women are capable of remarkable things when we feel empowered, when we feel heard and respected, and when we are made to feel dignified in birth.
A woman’s autonomy in birth
Trish is a voice for expectant mums, before, during and after birth; spreading the message that mums matter as much as their babies in the birthing room.
She wants expectant mums like me to know that they have choices in how the birth of their baby plays out, and that their feelings, opinions and their health matters just as much as anyone else’s in that birthing room.
Haven’t we all at one time or another heard our friends, family members or ourselves utter that familiar sentence… “all that really matters is that the baby is healthy”? Haven’t we all at the very least nodded in agreeance when we’ve heard this said?
I certainly have.
And whilst of course, the health of my baby is my priority, I must say it’s both refreshing and reassuring to know that my experience on the birthday of my baby matters a great deal to the medical professional I’ll be relying so heavily on.
Many of us are programmed to believe that birth is a painful but necessary means to an end; something to be dreaded but endured; a plight that women suffer through to achieve the ultimate reward of a healthy baby.
And yet today, my wonderful midwife Trish told me that I mattered as much as my baby. That to her, the health and wellbeing of expectant mothers matters just as much as the health and wellbeing of their babies.
Just as much.
This is a belief that is held by only a small number of professionals, I believe.
How lucky am I.
I have a midwife by my side who will ensure that my voice is heard in the birthing room. A midwife who will take on board my birth preferences and ensure that I am not pushed into making decisions in the birthing room that go against my wishes, unless there is a valid medical reason to do so.
Trish tells me that she has halted unnecessary episiotomies. She has okayed the home birth of twins. She has defended her mums and their rights because Trish truly believes in empowering the women she works with to give birth on their own terms, in the best interests of both mum and baby.
Trish is careful and her decisions are considered; fuelled by over two decades worth of experience at the birth of over a thousand babies.
And in her time as a midwife, she has seen what women can do when birth isn’t something that is done ‘to them’, but by them.
“Leave your dignity at the door” is an irksome phrase that really makes her blood boil. Why? Because Trish makes sure that each of her ladies feels dignified in birth.
She refuses to give unnecessary examinations unless the expectant mother requests them. She ensures that women aren’t left uncovered and that they aren’t treated like a vessel to be poked and prodded – all in the pursuit of a healthy baby, of course.
She recognises that labour is an experience that women will remember for life. Not babies. Our babies won’t remember it.
But we will.
So of course, the wellbeing of our little one is of utmost importance but let’s not forget the women too.
We matter too.
If you are pregnant or are considering hiring a private midwife, find out more about how I arrived at the decision to hire a private midwife – the best decision of my pregnancy so far.
Find out more about the experience of other mums at Private Midwives.