Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guided Hands

I am by no means a superiorily experienced midwife, and as many of you know, still consider myself a "young-un". That being said, I do feel that I have built a strong foundation on which to grow my skills. I have been blessed with fantastic teachers and mentors, wonderful families to support and an amazing family of my own. I have recently had some experiences that truly reinforce, for myself, that this is my calling. I believe, that when a person finds their calling, and that when they are serving a higher purpose, there is a well of unconscious knowledge to tap into...

At a recent birth, I was literally at the end of my rope...I had done and tried everything to help this motherbaby. At that moment, of surrender, my hands just started doing. An obscure maneuver, from deep in a text book, that I had never done and only seen once years ago. My hands simply took over and did it....and wonderfully it worked! It was just the trick to help this sweet babe out. I didn't even fully realize what had happened until it was over. I believe that my hands were guided.

At another recent birth, after a beautiful labor and with a healthy, happy baby skin to skin...Mama truly started hemorrhaging...a lot, a dangerous lot. Her placenta had not yet been birthed and before I was able to consciously think, my hands just started to do, to enter her uterus and remove the placenta. This was of course, difficult and very painful for the Mama, however, it saved her life. I had never done this procedure before, only studied it and observed it, but in that moment, my hands knew exactly what to do. Again, I believe my hands were guided.

Of course, there is the acknowledgement that I have trained and studied for these situations, which I have done with dedication. Of course, there is the necessary ability to think quickly and remain calm. However, above all that, there are moments when I honestly believe and have felt something more than myself in the room. I am by no means special in this way and feel that this "well of knowledge" is present for all to dip into. I have seen many others experience this sensation. When have you felt/seen/experienced this? Do you even agree with me that it occurs? I would love to discuss this....

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Language of Labor

So, most of us are probably familiar with the term "the language of love". I firmly believe that there is also a "language of labor", a universal language that is shared by women during birth. I have had this belief for a long time, but recently had a birth that reinforced the feeling.

Marta was having her first child. She recently moved to the United States from Central America. When she first arrived, Marta spoke very little English. During her pregnancy, she was extremely proactive in learning English and from one prenatal visit to the next, her English skills flourished. Additionally, she had a great support system that included a couple good interpreters. When I got a phone call from Marta's family that she was in labor, I was so happy...I had really wanted to be her midwife. I speak some limited Spanish and am by no means fluent, but love the language and the culture. Marta arrived to the birth center, surrounded by rain, fog and her family. It was as if she was enveloped in a mist of soft, moist light. I only had to take one look at her to know that she was not far from birthing her little one. She had that aura, a vibration pulsating off her body. And, not surprisingly, remembered hardly any English. Yes, she had her family to help interpret, but honestly, we did not need them too much. We; Marta, myself, the nurse and my student, were able to speak the language of labor. The discourse that occurs through touch and look. She needed hands to hold, eyes to look into, and the comfort of closeness. Then there was the sound of crowning, that primal sound, the one that comes from our ancestral voice....that sound is universal and needs no translation. It is a sound that anyone in the room will feel in their bones. And then, the squishy, pink baby followed by the sounds of a Mother greeting her child for the first time. Marta had a gorgeous, chubby baby girl.

Many times, I feel that we do too much talking in labor...too much stimulating of the frontal lobe and pulling women out of their instinctual selves. Don't get me wrong, it is vital to be able to communicate. I am just proposing that we should be thoughtful in our use of verbal language around birth. That we should use language with a sincere purpose and weigh each word before speaking it. What are your thoughts and/or experiences with this?

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Well, this weekend was full of so much information, both good and bad! I was able to attend a conference....The American Association of Birth Centers 5th annual. Overall it was great, so wonderful to be surrounded by people who are also involved in the crazy wonderfullness that is a birth center! To know that we are not alone and that others are out there joined in the movement is fantastic and a great way to get the ole battery re-charged. There were great presentations on Anthropological Breastfeeding (so amazing!), new guidelines for STI's (good to be kept up to date), PROM and techniques for OP and labor dystocia. All in all wonderful information.

What was disturbing...the new data on Maternal and Infant Mortality!!! We as a country spend more money on health care and have some of the worst outcomes, and to make it worse, we keep getting worse not better!! We are slipping further and further down on the list every year, currently we are 41st for infant outcomes and 50th for maternal outcomes!! This is shameful and shocking. Additionally, if you are African American the outcomes are 4x worse! Here is a link to a recent report from Amnesty International


Before reading it, be prepared to be frustrated and saddened, and then hopefully moved to action. I will soon be moving that way....after the initial shock wears off. For now, I really needed to vent!