Real Life or Call the Midwife?

Posted by Andrea Altomaro on

Much like Tish pointed out, I love that when I watch every episode of Call the Midwife, I see so many similarities between the show and my life! There aren’t too many medical shows where I can say that. I’m almost always the first to point out something not-quite-right about a medical drama. Some members of my family don’t even want to watch medical shows with me because I always seem to have something to say about it (usually something like “Come on! That would never happen in real life!”). During Call the Midwife, I’ve found that I remain silent. As you can tell from my blog posts recently, I’m almost always thinking about a very comparable experience from my own short career as a midwife! Well, this episode was no different.

Andrea with Paulina and her twins, Paul and Paulina, in Liberia.Andrea with Paulina and her twins, Paul and Paulina, in Liberia. My first day on the maternity ward in Liberia, we had undiagnosed twins! I walked into the delivery room just in time to see one tiny baby be born; looking at the mom and seeing her still-large belly, it suddenly clicked. I was very grateful that the Liberian midwife was there and in charge of this patient, and I was just an observer! This mother actually did have a postpartum hemorrhage, but it responded very well to intervention, and mom and babies were healthy and well. I was able to continue to care for them for the next week and it was so great to have time to spend with this new mom and help her adjust to life as a mother of twins.

Another thing that struck me about this episode was the way Trixie and Sister Bernadette handled the difficult situation of Meg and Mave. As a young new midwife, I sometimes struggle with asserting my authority. There are labor and delivery nurses that are much older than me, and may have been nurses longer than me. There are patient’s family members who question my knowledge or plan of care because I appear young. As I gain confidence in my practice and experience, I find it gets easier, but I really admired how Trixie came in and took control of the room. She had Mave’s best interests in mind and was able to create a safe and secure environment for her to birth her babies in. She also knew that Mave needed the comfort and support of her sister at the end, and was able to help Meg see how much Mave needed her, and what a difference she could make by supporting her sister.

Not only did Meg distrust “the system” and modern midwifery practices of the day, but I think she was also scared because this was one thing that she and Mave were not doing together. She was afraid to lose her sister and also probably feeling a little left out. Trixie managed to make Meg realize that even though she was not birthing those babies, she still played an integral role as Mave’s support person.

This was a great lesson to remind me that when family members are angry or upset about something, it is almost always because they are concerned about their loved one. We should work together as a team to make sure patients feel supported by their family, friends and loved ones, and their midwife.

 


Altomaro_Andrea_posts.jpg 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.
Read More About Andrea |  Read All Posts by Andrea

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About the Modern Day Midwives

PBS and Detroit Public Television have partnered with experienced midwives to discuss their role in modern obstetrics and how things have changed in relation to Call the Midwife, which takes place in the 1950s and 1960s. Learn More