Season 2 Episode 6: Jenny Inspires
Neal Street Productions This week is Nurses’ week, and on Call the Midwife we were able to see how much work the midwives do outside the realm of mothers and babies. After all, these midwives were nurses first! I always think it’s so interesting when we get to catch a glimpse of how the midwives are exceptionally skilled in primary care. People may not realize that Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) do go through primary care training today and are considered to be primary care providers for women and newborns.
In Episode 6, we got to see Jenny care for Mr. Masterson, an elderly man dealing with congestive heart failure. I love watching Jenny grow and gain confidence and experience on the show. As a new midwife, it’s very inspiring! Jenny seems to balance being calm and caring with gaining respect and control over the situations she might find herself in. I think it was this careful balance that allowed Mr. Masterson and his daughter Julia to reconnect after all those years. Jenny was able to see that they needed a little push to bring them together, and that they were both hurting very badly from the tragedy of losing all of their other family members to tuberculosis. When Julia and her father were able to acknowledge the hurt they both felt, and realized how much it had affected their relationship, they could let it go and truly begin to heal.
Another thing I noticed about this episode was that Julia seemed to “hold in” her baby until she felt the time was right. I have seen this happen often with women near the end of their pregnancies. There is an amazing mind-body connection that can help or hinder a woman in labor. A woman has to feel truly safe and supported before her body will allow her to let go and bring her baby into the world. Julia seemed very inwardly focused during her labor, and was able to listen to her body’s cues and needs in order to bring her baby safely and quickly into the world. I loved when Julia wouldn’t respond or move when Jenny wanted her to get into bed. So often, providers expect women in labor to alter their natural instincts to make birth more convenient to them. I loved when this caught Jenny off guard; she asked Sister Julienne what to do, and Sister offered the perfect response. If the woman was comfortable, then by all means, leave her there! Jenny quickly adapted and got on the floor, and Julia’s baby was born safely in this kneeling/squatting position. I’ve actually found that when women are left to choose their own birthing position, most choose either upright/squatting, or hands-and-knees! It was wonderful to see Sister Julienne advocating for and respecting this woman’s decisions.
This episode also dealt with the tuberculosis epidemic in Poplar. It was so interesting to hear the women express concerns about the safety of x-rays while pregnant and be told not to question it! In hindsight, a mother’s instincts are very good! Even though they may have been concerned, it was wonderful to see their excitement at the prospects of seeing the baby in their bellies. With the widespread use of ultrasound today, it’s almost assumed that you will have at least one chance to see that baby, growing and tumbling in your belly. How thrilling it must have been for these women getting their x-rays! Of course, the x-rays also had a purpose. TB was widespread, and could spread quickly with the close and crowded living quarters of many of the town’s residents. Of course, it was devastating to learn the news of Sister Bernadette’s diagnosis. I will be waiting anxiously to hear an update and hoping for good news on next week’s episode, and of course, cannot wait for the return of Chummy!
Andrea Stadnicar (MS, RN, CNM) is a nurse-midwife who graduated in 2012 from the University of Michigan Nurse Midwifery program. Before becoming a midwife, she worked as a nurse in the emergency department and also in labor and delivery. Andrea currently works as a full-scope midwife with the Providence Nurse Midwives part-time.
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