Midwifery: The Art of Caring
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.
One of the things I love best about Call the Midwife is how every single episode makes me think about the history of midwifery, the way it was practiced in the 50s and 60s, and the way I practice now. I am always amazed that every episode reminds me of my own experiences as a nurse and a midwife. One thing that really struck me about this week’s episode was how the midwives and Dr. Turner show how much their professions are an enormous part of their lives. Doctors, midwives, and nurses don’t just come to the hospital, clock their hours, and go home, forgetting about the trivial happenings of the day. Sometimes, especially when things are difficult or do not go as planned, we have a very hard time letting go.
I can think of many times when I have come home after a busy night shift, and I am unable to sleep because my mind is reeling from the night’s events. Often, it’s just that post-birth “high” we experience when endorphins are running wild after a joyous celebration of birth. However, when things do not go as planned, it can be very difficult for caregivers as well. I think to be a nurse or a midwife, you must be someone who cares an awful lot. We pour our heart into our work, forming relationships with women and their families, and in turn, the women allow us to care for them during one of the most important times in their lives. When we feel someone has been let down, if they didn’t have the birth experience they desired, or there are unexpected complications, or in the case of Dr. Turner this week, there is a missed diagnosis, it is very hard not to question everything you know about being a midwife. Sometimes it’s difficult to think about going back.
We saw Dr. Turner, terrified after missing the diagnosis of osteogenesis imperfecta that he might miss something else serious during his work. It is probably common for people in the medical profession to feel they have to be perfect; after all, there is a lot riding on our care. I think if we do this work long enough, we will all have days where we question whether or not we are in the right profession. However, midwifery is not just a job—it’s a calling. We put all of ourselves into our work. I love how beautifully this is portrayed on Call the Midwife. The actors truly capture the essence of midwifery. It’s in the look on Shelagh’s face when she caught her first baby since leaving the order in last week’s episode. It is shown in Barbara going out of her way to give care to Mrs. Khatun. We also see this passion in Dr. Turner when he runs to the aid of Barbara and Sister Mary Cynthia, who are with Mrs. Khatun, and he performs a risky, yet life-saving tracheotomy. This job carries a lot of stress, but it also carries great joy, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Andrea Altomaro (MS, RN, CNM) has been nurse-midwife for the past three years and is currently working for the Henry Ford Health System. Before becoming a midwife, she worked as a nurse in the emergency department and also in labor and delivery.
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