Call the Midwife Season 2: Still Hitting the Mark

Posted by Tish Roeske on
Neal Street Productions

4-1-13_CTM-Blog_S2_v.jpgNeal Street Productions I have been anticipating Season 2 of Call the Midwife. Would it be as good as Season 1? Would it still be a wonderful look back at childbirth and the way it touches families and communities? Would it still somehow manage to remain pertinent to the lives of women and their families today? Yes, yes and yes again. The midwives and their patients in 1959 East End London struggle with issues of pain relief in labor, exploitation of women and domestic violence. All these issues are still part of the lives of women in Metro Detroit 2013 and something I help women work through as part of my job as a certified nurse midwife at Henry Ford Hospital.

Chummy and Dr. Turner demonstrate nitrous oxide for pain relief in labor. The pregnant women at the clinic are told they have to go to the maternity home to use it. One of the reasons childbirth moved from the patient’s home to medical settings was the demand by women to have better pain relief in labor. I love how the patient hollers and yells until Chummy and Cynthia summon Dr. Turner with the “gas and air.” It is my experience as a nurse midwife for 22 years, that laboring women will find a way to get the pain relief they want. It is also ironic that nitrous oxide has been reintroduced in some hospitals in the USA as a pain relief option today. What goes around comes around.

This episode also brings to light that domestic violence and sexual exploitation of women is still as much with us in 2013 as it was in 1959. I find myself empathizing with Trixie and Jenny Lee. I have never been in a violent or exploitive relationship so it is hard for me to understand how woman can stay. I intellectually understand the cycle of domestic violence. The research shows that an abuser is not always violent, but usually very controlling, isolating the woman — this was poignantly depicted in the case of the patient Molly Brignall. My brain understands how hard financially, and emotionally it is for a woman to leave but my gut says, “Go, now, anything is better than this.” The same can be said of the character Kirsten, the daughter of the Swedish ship captain. Trixie and Sister Evangeline are summoned to the ship for a girl in labor, a girl who has been kept on the ship as a sex slave for the sailors. Trixie and Sister Evangeline guide her through labor and a delivery and help her to see her own self-worth by showing that they value her and her baby. Trixie faces her own fears by climbing up the side of a huge ocean freighter; and successfully preventing a cord prolapse — an incredibly brave task to do in one lifetime let alone all on the same delivery call. Sister Evangaline and Trixie show Kirsten’s father how contemptible they find him but still preserve Kirsten’s dignity.

Promoting self-worth and standing up for your rights and needs are somethings at which midwives excel. Guiding women through labor and helping them to realize they are strong powerful women is at the heart of midwifery and why I come back to this show and my job time after time.



The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

RAINN – Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network National Hotline
24 hour Phone: (800) 656-4673 HOPE

Office on Violence Against Women

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1532 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 745-1211
Fax: (202) 745-0088

National Domestic Violence Hotline
(800) 799-7233 (SAFE)


Tish_Roeske.jpg(Elizabeth) Tish Roeske (CNM, MS, BSN, RN) is a nurse-midwife and has been practicing in Metro Detroit as a certified nurse-midwife for 20 years. Roeske graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Science and from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a Master’s Degree in Science for Nurse-Midwife.
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