Every midwife has a toolkit, in fact we all have multiple toolkits. We have the toolkits full of our technical supplies; the doppler, the blood pressure cuff, medications and herbs. We have the toolkits of support; the birth pool, the massaging hands, the birth balls. These are all external supplies. They are valuable and necessary, we can all easily recognize these tools. We learn about these tools in our training programs and through years of study. I have a series, Tools Of My Trade, covering some of these tools. You can read about all about my birth kit and about tools like speculums and clamps in these previous posts.
Then there are the internal tools that every midwife has in their toolkit. These are the things we cannot see, except the coffee of course. These tools are no less important than the ones we can easily see and touch. And, truthfully, I would argue that these intangible, invisible tools are the most important of them all. These tools should always be present and available. These are
- Compassion: for our clients, our families, for each other and ourselves.
- Passion: for the work and for ourselves, this helps to fuel us through the straining times.
- Stamina: midwifery is tough work, long nights and days. Stamina needs to be cultivated and feed with good self care.
- Soothing words: again, four our clients and families, for each other and ourselves.
- Coffee: this needs no explanation
- A change of clothes and toothbrush: I know these items are very tangible and visible, but the effect they can have after a long birth are magical and very intangible
- Humor and a sampling of good jokes
- Strong hands: again, while hands are very tangible, the strength that can be found within them is invisible until it is needed
- A warrior heart: this warrior heart stands tall for the work, stands tall against the obstacles thrown up through our broken healthcare system. And it stands tall for our clients and families, for each other and for ourselves.
- Sharp senses: what we see, hear, smell and feel. These pieces of information and data are crucial to maintaining our understanding of each birth space.
Another intangible toolkit ingredient, is one I refer to as the “inner drill sergeant”. This is one that was work for me, I had to truly cultivate and grow this ability, it did come to me naturally. It is a crucial midwifery skill. One of my favorite sayings has always been, ‘birth is made to work even if no one shows up’ and as a midwife this is a truth that I hold dear. For the vast majority of births, I should not be needed. I should sit on my hands and observe, I should offer support and guidance as necessary. However, sometimes a laboring person and baby may require assistance and when this happens, a midwife MUST be able to take charge of the room and make things happen. These are the instances that we are called upon to use our skills and training and we must use them quickly.