I recently learned that the word midwife means “with woman” and it makes a huge amount of sense.
I recently learned that the word midwife means “with woman” and it makes a huge amount of sense. My impression of a midwife is always that her role is supportive in nature. It’s almost easy to forget that her skills are supercharged and supported by extensive medical knowledge because they demonstrate support and encouragement before anything else.
For many women, a midwife is the very first extension of support when she becomes a mother. It begins during the pregnancy
, intensifies during the birth and is carried on far beyond that. A friend recently said that she visited her maternity hospital to gift a particular midwife with a bottle of wine and as she walked in, newborn
in hand, the security guy was giving her some very funny looks. This midwife had a profound effect on her experience of pregnancy, birth and beyond and she simply had to acknowledge it.
However, you choose to parent your care team should offer support and guidance that will assist you and your baby in terms of safety and care. These supports are going to be within the parameters of their guidelines though. For example, in a busy maternity hospital, a midwife may not have the time to give you the deep one-to-one support you require when it comes to breastfeeding
. It is simply beyond her ability as the hospital demands her presence and attention so intensely.
For this reason, it is always a good idea to try to prepare yourself with as many facts, figures and supports before you go in to have your baby. You may find yourself in a vulnerable position where knowledge really does become power. You have to be your very own advocate. Lining up a lactation consultant and participating in a breastfeeding preparation class can really help.
I think every experience is different but I definitely remember a midwife encouraging me to co-sleep when I had my son five years ago. Instead of just leaving me to figure it out she told me that if i could master feeding lying down it would make things a lot easier for me to feed on demand while healing from my sutures. I was crying hysterically because I just couldn’t sit up properly and she recognised that I needed the help. We spoke at length about co-sleeping along with the dos and don'ts.
I don’t know what her obligation or limitations were in terms of being allowed to advise me about this kind of thing but she helped me and pointed me in the direction of how to safely co-sleep. Another midwife on the ward constantly encouraged me to place the baby back in their cot after feeds which I found infinitely difficult given my own physical pain. For this reason, I wish I had a better sense of confidence to know what was right for me and my baby at that time.
A midwife’s role is to support a new mum and baby to the best of her ability. In a private birthing centre or via a home-birth that support may seem greater or more focused but she should always have your best interests at heart. She has become a midwife for reasons of vocation and while personalities and styles may differ her role is to support you in the broadest sense of the word.
When it comes to attachment parenting it is a personal choice and family decision. It tends to be something that parents have an idea about before they have their baby. In fact it may have an impact on some of the choices they make regarding the pregnancy, birth and after-care for example.
It is really important to do your research, ensure that you are always considering the safety of your baby and arm yourself with as much information as possible. The support from your midwife will compliment this and as always it is imperative that you know when to ask for help because you have an army of support behind you at the hospital.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.