The ‘Other’ Woman in Your Birthing Experience – the Midwife
“The woman about to become a mother, or with her newborn infant upon her bosom, should be the object of trembling care and sympathy wherever she bears her tender burden or stretches her aching limbs… God forbid that any member of the profession to which she trusts her life, doubly precious at that eventful period, should hazard it negligently, unadvised or selfishly.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes
Being pregnant and away from our own families must present an awful lot of challenges due to the absence of immediate support system from mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and so on. Aside from the involvement of our OB-GYN, there are another breed of women whom expectant mums go to for guidance from gestation and beyond: their MIDWIVES.
Midwives and mothers-to-be create a sort of ‘sisterhood’ over this period. In the UAE, there are those who offer at least five minutes of holistic consultations with a midwife prior to the prenatal check up with the doctor. Mums are asked what goes on in their minds and body. They are offered practical advices and visits at several intervals, depending on how long it has been since the delivery. Visits in the homes of the new mums ensure that they get insights on breastfeeding, care giving, developing a mother-baby bond…even home conditions (i.e. air-conditioning) and ensuring infection control (in comparison to having the baby exposed to the clinics and hospitals).
An excerpt from Juliana Van Olphen-Fehr’s Diary of a Midwife: The Power of Positive Childbearing goes: “Midwifery is a profession whose time has come again. Certified nurse-midwives, the experts of normal birth, are nurses who have received special training in maternal and newborn care and normal obstetrics.” Having shifted to a coordinator of the first nurse-midwifery graduate education program in her state, Van Olphen-Fehr has since become a spokesperson of mothers as well as a guide for new midwives.
Rhea, a mum who had birth in her home country, pays her tribute to the woman who helped her through her pregnancy and giving birth. She says, “I have three beautiful daughters, two of them were born premature. So when I found out that I was pregnant with my third child, I knew I have to find someone who can really help me through the process. She took care of me and my baby. She made sure everything went well, that I took all the right medications, eat properly and get the proper treatments. With her care I had the healthiest pregnancy and I gave birth to my little Andrea at 38 weeks – FULL TERM! The delivery didn’t even feel like I was going through something painful. It felt like I was the only mum who was smiling and even laughing during labour!”
Midwives, beneath their caring exterior, are women themselves. Much of their time is spent making mums-to-be feel special about motherhood in its entirety. Now that we are celebrating the International Midwives’ Day on May 5th, perhaps it is time to check your phonebooks and give your own midwives a ring and express how thankful you were of that time when they were more than just a midwife to your, and more like your sister and friend…
Diary of a Midwife: The Power of Positive Childbearing
Juliana Van Olphen-Fehr, 1998