Sunday, June 24, 2012

I have learned to read women's bodies like braille. My hands have gotten pretty good at seeing. In midwifery, we have to do lots of things blindly, by feeling only, gathering information with our hands and fingertips - assessing dilation, effacement and station, determining the position of a baby inside a uterus, finding veins for IV starts.

This was the first time I'd had to go blindly for a birth, entirely by feel, using my hands to "see". I knelt on the floor beside the pool with a woman I had met only hours before. We got called to assess her in labour because her primary midwife was at another birth. It was the first time I had caught a baby in the water. At first I wasn't sure how it would go because I couldn't see what was happening with the way she was positioned. When it became apparent it was time, I slipped a hand under her and could feel the bulging membranes with the head just behind. There was no space to get another hand in there, so I simply reached my other arm around from behind, with plenty of time to catch the baby as she slithered out and to help her up to mom. The membranes slid back over her face after she emerged from the water and was cradled in her mother's arms. My second good luck babe born in the caul. She took a few minutes to begin breathing on her own, encouraged by some rubbing by the midwives and her mother's voice letting her know it was time to wake up. But her heart rate was good, and she eventually let out a hearty cry.

I am slowly learning to trust birth. I mean really trust it. As my preceptor pointed out, my anxiousness at the moment of delivery has been learned, and is now needing to be unlearned. Often all that is needed is a little time, a little patience. A little trust. Women's bodies work amazingly. Babies know just what to do. And while I have known and believed this all along, I am only now beginning to see what this truly means, and I am learning how to let it play out.

Earlier this week, I caught a baby bare-handed for the first time. No time to get gloves on. She came quickly and caught all of us off-guard. Her mother was on the birth stool and was not far above the ground, but her cord was so short that I couldn't even lie her on the towel on the floor. I had to hold her in mid-air until the second midwife could wrap her in a blanket so I could clamp and cut the cord, allowing us to pass her up to mom.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds lovely to be surrounded by so much LIFE!

Blogger Rachel said...

Jill, I'm so, so, SO glad you got this placement and I pray that you will always be able to practise in a way that allows your trust in birth to deepen and expand and in a way that you can really work from that place of trust, which, to me, is a place of love. Perfect love drives out fear.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow....amazing experiences! You are very blessed to have a profession like this! Keep the stories you Jill!
Aunt Anita

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