Tools of My Trade, #4 4


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.

Tools of My Trade, 4

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:

The first tool, These Hands starts the series. Followed by the Second and Third installments.

Image credit Aubre Tompkins


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4 thoughts on “Tools of My Trade, #4

  • Lisa Pontious

    How timely! was at the WNC Birth Center yesterday, supporting a midwife & nurse who were busy. I was the laundry/food/clean up crew person…probably did a dozen loads of laundry! I actually love turning off the light of a freshly cleaned birth room (& folding clothes that are fresh from the dryer…at the birth center, not so much at home!)

    • aubrekate Post author

      Oh my Gosh! Yes! I enjoy folding the birth center laundry and putting it away….and def don’t get the same feels about that task at home.

  • Linda Bennett

    I tell the starry-eyed about sitting on the bathroom floor at crotch level, holding the used barf bowl because it was needed once and might be again. One of my new apprentices retched at the mucus plug. She eventually got over the mucus plus blood part.