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)

NJF

Girls’ Globe will be providing live coverage from the NJF Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden. Follow the conversations here on girlsglobe.org and through the hashtag #midwives4all on Twitter and Instagram. Learn more through the following links:

Women Inspire: Nozema Pul

This post is the second in a series of interviews from women and girls at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Georgetown, Guyana.

I’m here in Georgetown, Guyana to conduct interviews with inspiring women and girls and to listen to their stories. I recently met Nozema Pul, 41, in the GPHC maternity ward. Nozema was days, or possibly hours, away from giving birth. But being the shero that she is, she agreed to share with me her thoughts on motherhood, her dreams for her children, and advice for young girls.

What does being a mother mean to you?

A: Happiness. It means happiness.

How has your mother influenced your life?

A: My mother was a loving, caring and thoughtful mom. She taught me all about the good things in life. She raised me the right way, as a mother should. She gave me everything that she could afford in order to make me happy.

What do you wish for your children?

A: I wish for lots of happiness. I wish that they follow Christ and to have faith. I want them to be a good person and treat others as they want to be treated, not to be rude. I hope they are thoughtful and dedicated. But most of all, I want them to make the most out of life.

How did you first learn about reproductive and sexual health?

A: I was about 10 years old and I read about it in school.

Did you have easy access to family planning? What were the challenges?

A: No, access to family planning was not easy. I learned it from friends, family members, teachers, and others. I learned about contraception, condoms, and protecting oneself from sexually transmitted diseases, and not to have many children – especially one right after another. I learned that I needed to wait 6 to 7 weeks before planning the next pregnancy. It was challenging because I had to  learn much about family planning by myself. I had to learn how to find doctors by myself and what family planning and pregnancy entailed. I was scared.

What are the challenges you have faced as mother?

“I love making my children happy. I want to give them everything they deserve as my mother did for me.”

A: I had my first child at 17. It was very hard. I didn’t know how to raise a child, but I was living with my mother and she taught me how to be a good mom. I learned from her and how she brought me up.

How can we make sure all babies and mothers survive and thrive?

A: Mothers and pregnant women should go out and talk to the right people to get the correct advice for their children so they know how to love and care for their child when the time comes.

What is your favorite part of being a mother?

A: I love making my children happy. I want to give them everything they deserve as my mother did for me. I want to teach them kindness, how to treat people, and not to be rude.

What advice can you give to young girls about pregnancy?

A: Do not get pregnant early. Get educated, stay in school, and get a good job. Get your own home and everything you want. Get a degree so you can stand up for yourself. Don’t be a single parent because it is very hard.

No photos were permitted inside the maternity ward.