Being a midwife is a rewarding, challenging career. Although the nature of what midwifery professionals, in some cases known as “doulas,” deal with is focused on one specific subject, the day-to-day nature of their work is ever changing. Midwifery is emotionally and physically draining at times, but most of all highly fulfilling and incredibly helpful to women and their babies.
Surprises or last minute matters can occur at any time, because of course babies aren’t born according to a schedule. Furthermore, duties may be different depending on whether a midwife works in a surgery or hospital, or in her own private practice. But often, it starts with a review of the schedule, to see what appointments have already been made, which patients require visiting and what, overall, to expect.
Midwives who work in hospitals or clinics will do this there, consulting with other staff as required and sometimes distributing workload amongst them. There may be one seasoned professional who oversees a team of midwives and related staff members, or a collective of midwives working together.
During the morning’s review of appointments, these professionals will also address any special issues their clientele are facing, such as trouble conceiving, miscarriages, teenage pregnancies, high-risk pregnancies, post-natal depression and difficulties with breast-feeding.
Well-organised midwives who work freelance or are otherwise self-employed will go through a similar daily review, consulting their various points of reference for special issues and preparing accordingly for what is already scheduled for them. Regardless of where a midwife is employed, paperwork and other necessary administrative tasks will also probably be conducted at this point. In a position where “surprises” are to be expected, it’s essential to keep everything that is constant as organised as possible.
Next, midwives will start to see patients for pre-scheduled appointments. Doing so may include in-office visits, in-patient hospital visits or even home visits. Many women work with midwifery professionals because they are keen to have a home birth, and accordingly will also see their midwife in the home. In these circumstances, exposure to traditional hospitals and technology will be minimised for the most natural childbirth experience possible, and only utilised if necessary for the safety and well being of the mother and child.
Midwives consult with their “clients” at all stages, from the initial period when they are trying to conceive, throughout their pregnancy and well into the post-natal period. They offer far more than just coaching during the labour and delivery process, though that is an essential part of what they do.
For example, a midwife may visit a new mum in the initial stages after her baby is born, reviewing her own notes or those of the discharging hospital. She will weigh and examine the newborn infant, examine the nappy and how the umbilical cord is healing, feel the baby’s abdomen and listen to his or her heartbeat. In the event there are any concerns about the baby revealed during these tests, the midwife will advise the mother accordingly.
During such a visit, she will also check the blood pressure and take a urine sample from the new mother, to ensure her best health as she recovers from delivery. She will also address any concerns the new mother has, provide expert support and offer assistance with breast-feeding, if required. A midwife may also visit a patient during various stages of her pregnancy, at key points in each trimester or as the need otherwise arises. During such an appointment, the point within the pregnancy is assessed, she’ll feel the baby through the abdomen and check his or her heartbeat, test the woman’s blood pressure and urine sample, and address any concerns or other relevant issues.
Of course, throughout the pregnancy the midwife will typically be available for other appointments or calls if the expectant mother wants to make any enquiries or seek related health advice.
Furthermore, many midwives are “on call” to assist during labour and deliveries, which of course aren’t often scheduled and can crop up at any time. Therefore, a midwife doesn’t typically work a 9:00 to 5:00, Monday to Friday job. Some days may start at the crack of dawn, or go well into the night – even on weekends and holidays.
There’s definitely never a dull moment for midwifery professional, and each day brings its own challenges and joys. Midwives are present at the most significant moments of women’s lives. They provide them with a highly personal level of care for their overall health and well being, regarding the pre and post natal periods and pregnancy itself.
For those who feel called to this rewarding and respected vocation, it brings happiness, fulfillment and purpose. Midwives make a real and tangible difference in the lives of women and their babies.