I started this Ask A Midwife series back in the end of 2015. I have had a good time doing it; I will reach out on social media and ask for questions. For folks to ask a question that they would love to ask a midwife if they had the chance to sit down to tea with one. Not a personal question about their own care but rather a general question about midwifery, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenting, whatever comes to mind. The opportunity for a conversation and a place to go with these thoughts. If you want to read the previous posts in this series you can read the first one or the most recent one. Let’s get started with these three questions that I recently received.
- Can you deliver by candlelight? I think this one is very fun! First, as a midwife, I do not deliver babies…the pregnant person does that. I attend births. But to answer the question, absolutely babies can be born by candlelight! I work in a birth center, we have back up plans in place for when the power goes out: a generator, flashlights, etc. But really we don’t need electricity for a baby to be born. Often times, we barely have any lights on during a birth anyway. Women in labor can be very sensitive to bright lights so we usually keep them dim. We have been giving birth for millennia and of course well before the advent of electricity. Today, we are dependent on or really enjoy all of our fancy technology but none of it is really necessary for the vast majority of births; those that are low risk. I attended a birth, many years ago, during a tornado warning. The morning had been full of storm clouds but they had suddenly become dark and heavy with multiple lightening strikes. The wind was howling, the electricity went out and we could hear the whirring of tornado sirens in the distance. It was midday but the sky was now darkened by the storm. The woman was in second stage, very near to giving birth, she was also a force of nature. She and the storm seemed to match tempo and rhythm, creating a dance of power charged by the energy of the storm. I sent my birth assistant out to see if the tornado was visible to us and it was not. We all decided to stay put and move as soon as the baby was born. We readied supplies to take with us for the move and then focused on the work at hand. Shortly, the babe was welcomed Earthside and announced itself with a mighty cry. Magically at that moment the storm cleared as quickly as it had arrived and we did not have to move.
- Is it still magical after all these years? Unequivocally and without hesitation, YES! Each birth is its own song with its own beauty and magic. After attending over 400 births as a midwife (and thousands total when including my years as a nurse), I can tell you that every time a new baby enters the world and takes their first breath is a special, sacred moment. A moment that is never diminished by the births that came before. So what does change over the years? This is the question, because to claim that nothing changes the longer you practice is not being completely honest. For me, what has changed is my ability to know the differences between normal variations and warning signs of potential serious complications. Which ones need gentle intervention and which ones require immediate, intense action. The cultivation of the “inner midwife drill Sargent” for those times was a learned skill for me. Another skill earned through the years is the knowing of when to remain silent, observant and supportive while staying hands off to let the family find their own dance and when to step in and offer the hands on support as needed. And yet, none of these ever diminish the every day miracle of birth and family making!
- Has this work brought you closer to your faith? This is another, unequivocal YES! I have discussed this topic in a previous post so instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, I will simply share that post titled Divinity In The Room Please check it out for my thoughts on this…
So, what are your thoughts on these questions? Do you have different answers? Are there any questions that you would like to Ask A Midwife? Please post them here.
Image credit Jennifer Mason