Maternal and Child Health

Witnessing the Start of Life: Why I want to be a midwife

I start my shift at 2 pm on a Sunday afternoon. Outside the sun is shining, spring has finally arrived. My patient of the day is a 19-year-old woman who is expecting her first child. She has had contractions for the past two days and today it’s finally time to give birth. For the next seven hours, I will be with her on her journey to give birth, a journey that consists of both joy and despair. Moments where the pain is so tough that she wants to give up, but also moments where she feels the strength and thinks “I can do this!”

At the end of the shift the baby finally arrives, a long-awaited little life. The joy in the room can not be mistaken – and the magical moment comes, when the woman sees her baby for the first time. Relatives streams into the room, everyone wants to congratulate and meet the new family member. The delivery room turns into a celebration!

And in the middle of all this, I stand, a midwifery student trying to get all the pieces together, trying to learn this craft. The role of a midwife in the delivery room is so central, at the same time I’m just a person in the periphery. I don’t want to take up too much space, I would rather try to understand the woman’s needs, support when needed, and always be prepared if the worst was to happen.

I learn from the best. Experienced midwives sharing their knowledge in a generous and supportive way. They lead me to believe in myself, that I will actually cope with this difficult task. For it is not simple, it is a risky journey that pregnant women worldwide undergo.

And the goal for all midwives is clear -a healthy mother and a healthy baby. That is the heart of midwifery.

The day after I meet the woman and her baby in the maternity ward. We talk about the delivery, what was good and what was difficult. I want her to feel that she did an amazing job, that giving birth to a child is not easy, but she got through it. The birth is not a trip down a straight road, it goes over hills and valleys, contains feelings of both hope and despair. We women have to talk more about what we have done well, see our own strength and to see the strength in one another.

On my way out of the room, I turn around. The woman is sitting with her newborn baby in her arms, the happiness in her eyes is palpable. This is what makes all of the worth it – all the hard work, all the blood, sweat and tears that I have shared during my midwifery training. To be there, witnessing when it all begins, and doing it on the front row is a privilege that can not be described with words. And suddenly I just know, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

The woman and baby are not pictured in the cover photo. Cover photo credit: Matt Johnson (Flickr/CC)


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Category: Maternal and Child Health    Motherhood
Tagged with: baby    birth story    delivery    Maternal Health    midwifery    Midwives    newborn    women's health