Supporting One Another: Going beyond the Call of Duty

Posted by Andrea Altomaro on
© Neal Street Productions

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.


If there is one thing that Call the Midwife knows how to do well, it’s pulling at our heartstrings. My heart sank as I realized within the first few minutes that the Smith and the Dent babies were likely switched shortly after birth. Such a grave mistake is extremely rare, and as we saw, has immense repercussions. This made me thankful for our current practices of non-separation of moms and babies after they are born (except in cases of medical necessity) and for the tagging system we have for newborn babies. The absolute devastation on Sister Evangelina’s face when she realized her mistake was almost difficult to watch. I could see the pain she was feeling as she imagined how they would need to tell the parents, how the parents would react, and how they would ever be able to resolve such a mistake. Sister Julienne and Shelagh Turner were there for Sister Evangelina to help support her, comfort her, and help her do her best to resolve this problem. They did not judge her or berate her for her mistake. However, they did spend time thinking about how to make their work safer and prevent something like this from happening again. Having supportive midwifery partners helped Sister Evangelina through what was probably one of the most difficult times of her career.

The relationships we have with our colleagues are so important to the work that we do as nurses and midwives. Midwifery is an extremely rewarding and mostly joyful career, but there can be moments of unbearable sorrow. It is so important to work in a practice with good relationships between partners and a philosophy of ongoing support. We can educate each other on new research, learn from one other, and be there for each other through the joys and the sorrows that are inevitable in midwifery.

Also in this episode, I was touched by Sister Mary Cynthia and Barbara’s dedication to their work with Mr. and Mrs. Mills, from traveling to the hospital to be with Mrs. Mills so she could be evaluated for treatment to coming to their home every two hours to turn Mr. Mills. Barbara could have easily been discouraged by Mrs. Mills not wanting the district laundry service and left it at that, however, she could see that they truly had a need for help and she wanted to find the best way to help them. She went out of her way to research the best way to help Mr. Mills heal from his bedsores, and then put the plan in place with Sister Mary Cynthia to ensure they could carry it out. It is wonderful to see the actors portray the passion I so often see in nurses.

May 6th through May 12th is National Nurses Week, which is a week to celebrate and honor registered nurses for the hard work they do. I want to thank all the nurses, from the fictional characters of Nonnatus house to my wonderful colleagues at Henry Ford West Bloomfield. Thank you for your constant hard work and dedication to providing safe patient care. Thank you for continually going above and beyond to help women and their families feel at home while they are in the hospital. Finally, thank you for providing a work environment that, similar to what Sister Julienne described, feels like a family.


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