I get asked all the time if I was a midwife before I had babies – and I was! I was a midwife for just over 2 years before my daughter was born. I don’t think that having babies makes you a better midwife, but I do think birth gives you insight into many things that you wouldn’t know about pregnancy or birth unless you have experienced them (examples: lightening crotch, hemorrhoids, and heartburn – these things are real!). With that in mind, these are my thoughts on the things that “changed” for me after I had babies!
Oh boy. Did this humble me! I had a 2nd degree laceration with both of my babies. All I can say is this: I had no idea how sore your bottom can be until I walked through this myself. With my daughter, it took a long time for my pelvic floor to heal! When I say a long time, it took 8 weeks – maybe a little longer. I took Motrin for the soreness almost around the clock and hurt to sit down for a couple of weeks as well. With my son, the stitches and soreness were both present but for a shorter amount of time – maybe only 2 weeks. I was also more adamant about doing epsom salt soaks (if you don’t know what these are, see the bottom of the post for details – I HIGHLY recommend them!). I was diligent about doing a soak 1-2 times a day and they made all the difference. The other thing that humbled me about my own vaginal lacerations is that the lidocaine used to perform the repair hurt more than the birth itself! If you’ve haven’t had lidocaine before, it burns for 1-2 minutes after the injection and feels like a small fire in your lady parts. On the backside of two vaginal deliveries with two second degrees, I am much more sympathetic to mamas with stitches and recommend epsom salts to anyone who will listen.
Midwives are all about walking with women and being a therapeutic presence! I’ve seen the benefits of a therapeutic presence for women during their pregnancy care, labor and birth. My daughter’s labor was a normal, 18 hour labor that I spent the last 3-4 hours of in the hospital (if you haven’t read my birth stories, check out it here and here). I was so blessed to have an amazing nurse and provider that supported me desiring to be active in labor and in water if possible. I don’t remember the details of transition and pushing with her birth well, but I do remember someone telling me “You’re okay,” “You’re almost there,” and “You can do it.” In my son’s birth, I didn’t get those words and that was a great lesson for me as a patient in the power of caring, encouraging words.
Shared decision making
This is a big one for me these days. As I grow in practice and learn more about healthcare, medicine, and management, it’s evident how important the patient is to every part of the decision. Patients have rights and they have a right to decline interventions. Birth is FULL of interventions – but that doesn’t mean that every intervention is needed for every birth. Sometimes, no intervention is needed at all. Sometimes, many interventions are needed. It’s important to understand where and when interventions are needed and when to sit quietly with your hands folded together in your lap.
Oh yes they do – both you and the people you surround yourself with. It took me two babies to realize how important this one is. The people that take care of you during your pregnancy and birth should be people that reassure you, encourage you and support you. It takes one person who doesn’t do those things to cast shadows on an otherwise joyous day. Most people have a choice in their healthcare provider for wellness, pregnancy, and birth. Choose wisely. Keep looking for that person if you haven’t found them yet. And when you find them, keep going back and spread the word to all of your friends!
What do you see differently after having babies? Any midwives have a thought about what was different for them? Can’t wait to see your posts! Happy Monday!