An ongoing series about the Tools of My Trade. Some are funny, some profound, some serious but all are necessary. With this post, I share the mundane tools (mops, buckets, laundry baskets, cleansing wipes, vinegar and baking soda) used to clean up after births and to prepare for the next one. These tools may not immediately come to mind when envisioning being a midwife. However, they are critical to the work.
The Washing Machine and the Dryer.
Working in a community birth setting means doing a lot of cleaning; scrubbing toilets, cleaning and sterilizing instruments, washing dishes, mopping the floor, doing laundry. Our washing machine and dryer seem to always be running. With laundry from births and the clinic, they are busy machines. Who does all this laundry? The midwives and nurses. It is an integral part of the daily routine of a birth center.
Sometimes, when people new on the path of midwifery, approach me with stars in their eyes about working at a birth center, I tell them about the laundry. I used to be that starry eyed newbie and I remember the thrilling sparkle of birth; and absolutely those moments still shine but they are balanced by the full reality of midwifery. It is not all about catching the babies, it is about all the background work that makes it possible. Actually, now, being fully aware of all the sides makes the everyday miracles all the better. For me, the birth area is sacred. It is a space that holds energy and contains the work. Ensuring that it is prepped and ready for the next family gives a sense of satisfaction. Satisfaction in the work completed and work yet to come.
If you are a birthworker, what is one side of birth work that surprised you?
Please check out the other Tools in my series:
Image credit Aubre Tompkins