A Tribute to My Midwife
Before there were doctors, there were already midwives, or however they were called then, women who helped other women at childbirth.
Nowadays, in many parts of the western world where medical care is state-of-the-art, the role of midwives in childbearing has been diminished. However, there are still other places, especially in less developed countries, where midwives are indispensable.
It may surprise many people that there are many countries in Europe where midwives are still an integral part of pregnancy, delivery, and childcare. In the Netherlands, for example, home delivery is the norm unless medical complications are expected. In most cases, it’s midwives/nurses who are in attendance at birth. Only rarely are medical doctors involved in childbirth.
In Germany, where I delivered my twins, home delivery is not popular but the midwife still plays a large role before, during, and after delivery. And their services are paid for by the health insurance. Here are some things that midwives can do:
The midwife is there is to monitor your pregnancy. She is somebody to talk to and she is always willing to listen. She can give advice on your physical as well as emotional well-being. My midwife certainly had more time for chatting than my OB.
The midwife helps you prepare for delivery. She may recommend you to follow special classes for delivery preparation or she may be somebody who conducts the class herself.
The midwife could be there with you during your delivery, if you wish and if the hospital allows it. Because I had a scheduled Caesarian to deliver my twins, my midwife wasn’t allowed to be with me at the operating room but she was there to welcome me at the recovery room.
The midwife is there to help you with your baby. For first time mothers, she is an invaluable mentor who would teach you the basics, from putting on a diaper to bathing the baby, to breastfeeding. Our premiee twins had to stay at the neonatal clinic for 2 weeks but my midwife was there to welcome them at home on the day of discharge.
The midwife checks your baby. Mine had a portable weighing scale to check that my babies were gaining weight properly. She also checked that the navel was healing properly. She checked on their feeding, their stool, and their sleeping patterns.
The midwife checks you. She makes sure that no abnormal bleeding is happening or that your stitches are healing well. My midwife even gave me tips to avoid extensive scarring in my CS cut.
The midwife checks on you as a parent. Although she doesn’t say it outright, the midwife makes sure that you have the proper skills to take care of your baby. And that the family environment is stable. And that the baby is not neglected or mistreated.
The midwife is on call 24/7. I called her on a weekend because I had mastitis. She came first thing in the morning and came back again in the afternoon to see if the home remedy she recommended helped.
The midwife helps with everything. She can give you a hand with housework if necessary. She can babysit while you have a much needed lie-down.
The midwife will eventually say goodbye. Mine would come every day and checked me and my babies on the first week. Then she came every 2 days. The frequency of the visits gradually decreased, and finally she bid us farewell.
You may panic when this day comes but she assures you that you are well ready to be on your own. Besides, there are other new mothers and mothers-to-be who need her more than you. In other words, you get a clean bill of health as a parent and your baby is doing just fine. And she disappears from your life forever.
Some people will probably say that my midwife was just a health professional doing her job. Maybe. For me, she wasn’t just a health care worker, she was a confidant, a teacher, a helper. And this world is a much better place for us Mommies because of women like her.