On Being A Midwife

My 8 year old Granddaughter telephoned me last night to share something that happened at school.  She had a substitute Teacher named Mr. “M” and he recognized her last name and mentioned to her that I (her Gramma) had been their Midwife.  Ah, yes, of course, I recognized the name immediately…….I delivered little ‘Max’ over 25 years ago.   And last summer, at my Granddaughter’s soccer game, one of her team mate’s Mother told her that I (her Gramma) was her Midwife for all 5 of her children….  And maybe she could ask me to come to a soccer game sometime…..  It got me thinking about my ‘other life’ as a Midwife, before I ‘retired’…..

It seems like another lifetime ago, that I practised Midwifery.  I first began helping nursing Mothers, who had so many difficulties breastfeeding, in 1977.  It noticed that most of these problems were iatrogenic (‘hospital-caused’) in nature.  So it seemed like the logical step to help women avoid this situation in the first place, was to assist them at the time of the birth of their babies.  In the early 1980’s, hospital birthing was not family/women oriented, but mostly medical.  It was very difficult to assist a woman during birth in a hospital setting.  After having my own baby born at home, I knew there WAS a better way for both mothers and babies.   In the early 1980’s I began to assist other practicing Midwives and Doctors in my area, at home births and continued to assist at hospital births with ‘midwife friendly’ doctors only.  The entire time, I continued to update my education via courses, conferences, and workshops as there was no other way at that time.  The best education was the apprenticeship mode that I experienced.  I began attending births as a Primary Midwife and eventually took on an Apprentice to assist me and the birthing family.

In 1986, when I was expecting my 5th child, I decided to reduce my workload and ONLY take on clients who were planning on Home births in the countryside within an hour of my home.  Instead of doing prenatal (before birth) appointments at my client’s house, I had them come to my home.  I’d put on a pot of herb tea and had some homemade muffins,etc …..and I’d space each prenatal visit one hour or more apart.  Often they’d overlap, but it gave the families a time to share abit.   I still have the books in my personal ‘library’ that I’d loan out to parents.  Complete, detailed records were kept of the Mother’s medical history, Prenatal information, Labour Record,  Birth record, and Postpartum (after the birth) record.  I was also responsible for completing the provincial Birth Registration form.   I belonged to my local, provincial, and international Midwives’ Associations where we adhered to international Standards of Practice, Risk Screening Protocol, Ethics Code, etc.

Weighing a Newborn

As a Midwife, I could tell you lots of stories!  Here are a few:    One time I got called to a birth in the middle of the night during a raging snowstorm.  I finally made it to the clients’ country home through blizzard-like conditions.   Their long inclined 1/2 mile laneway was full of snow so I had to park on the country road and  trudge up the laneway pulling my Midwife’s bag in my baby sleigh.  I got there just in time…..  Then there was the time when I assisted a blind client with the hospital birth of their baby – my ‘Scope of Practice’ included walking  their seeing-eye dog outside the hospital on several occasions in addition to delivering their baby!  All in a day’s work……  I’ll always remember the very first home birth I attended solo:  another big snowstorm hit and I got the call (why do so many labours happen in the middle of the night!?).   Normally it was only a 10 minute drive, but that night it took me 45 minutes to get to the Mother’s house.  Her plan was to birth in hospital after labouring at home with my assistance since she’d previously had a cesarean section for her first child.  When I arrived, it was pretty obvious that the birth was imminent and she gave birth very soon after with no complications.  I could go on and on……   Being a Midwife meant always being ready to go at a moments notice, even on Christmas Day or in the middle my son’s birthday party (both happened).

First solo Home Birth delivery

During those busy years, I also spoke to groups at high schools, parents’ groups, colleges, and even international conferences.  I also served on a number of provincial, national, and international boards.   However, after my 7th child was born in 1994, I no longer volunteered to serve on Boards or do speaking engagements since they always took me away from home.  Over the years, numerous articles about me and my Midwifery practice  were published in many local papers .

Rather than seem like I’m conceited or something, I’m going to quote what my clients had to say in the wonderful thank you letters I received:

*  “…..as far as we are concerned, what you gave us before, during, and after (especially during) the wonderful experience is beyond words in value.    Thank you.”

*  “It meant alot to us to have you as our Midwife again…..able to have someone as dedicated as you are…..for your skill and compassion.  We have great confidence in you and your abilities.”

*  “Thanks for all you have done for us.  Your professional caring work as our midwife was wonderful”

*  “We are so grateful.  Without your inspiration, faith, and love, we could never have experienced the joy and fulfillment this last birth gave us.  You are such a ‘giving soul’.  I am always amazed.”

*  “Words to express how much it meant to me to have your calm strength, assurance, and know how.  I knew I could have complete trust in you to help us through.”

*  “Your guidance and support throughout the pregnancy and labour helped us to achieve the ‘natural birth’ and experience we had hoped for.  Keep up the good work so others can share in the joy of a GOOD birth.”

*  “We’re convinced we couldn’t have done it without your help.”

*  “…..because of his fast arrival, your presence made the difference and the outcome was a joyous event.”

*  “…..all the time you took talking to me on the phone and long discussions, childbirth classes, your presence when I called you, your care of Morgan, your gentle hands and kind voice during our son’s birth and the time you gave us after his birth – your care and concern for my health and well-being …..and all from the heart.  We love you for it.”

I have hundreds of letters like these…….

Siblings with Newborn brother

I’ve been ‘retired’ since 2003 and think fondly of those crazy, hectic times of being a Mother-Midwife.   I have to say, though, that I DON’T miss driving through snowstorms in the middle of the night……

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jacklyn Szabo
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 16:38:23

    Wanting to have a mid-wife by our sides when the time comes for us…in the distant future…and reading this gives me a greater respect than I could imagine. Thank you for sharing Aunt Linda.

    Reply

  2. ceciliag
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 14:53:28

    what fantastic work you did. i have five children and the midwives and hospital staff made ALL the difference to the day (either way too, not all my experiences were good) , it is such a magical and terrible gift of a day as we labour, I am sure you must be able to look back on your work with enormous satisfaction. Isn’t that a wonderful feeling.. c

    Reply

  3. Joe
    May 25, 2012 @ 09:51:13

    We used a midwife for the first time during our last pregnancy. What a difference! It was a far, far better experience (from both my and my wife’s experiences) than with the for contemporary methods of having the doctor swoop in to catch the baby.

    Joe

    Reply

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