In honour of the International Day of Midwives I decided to post the interview I did with a very special midwife… my Sister Lauren. Lauren was present at the birth of my son Hayden (along with my Husband and my Mum). Having a support person who was close to me as well as knowing everything about the birthing process was essential in getting me through my birth.
Stats about Lauren:
Lauren studied nursing at the University of Queensland and graduated in 2008. She worked as a women’s health nurse at RBH until she graduated from Midwifery in 2012. Lauren married her love Mitch on the 17th August last year, they live in Brisbane with their much loved boxer dog named Beau. Lauren is passionate about breastfeeding education and caring for the Mother.
Why did you become a midwife and what is your favourite thing about the job?
I always joke and say it was the fact that one of my favourite books as a young child was ‘Where Do Babies Come From?’ Partially that’s probably true- I’ve always found the idea of conception and birth to be fascinating. That we were all made from 2 cells you can’t even see, into fully functioning, complex human beings. I was a nurse before I was a midwife so I also love to look after people. I’m a ‘fixer’ by nature so it suits me to the ground!
So many things to choose as a favourite in my job. Obviously being a part of what, in most people’s lives is one of the most important days is a privilege. I think my favourite thing honestly is being able to make a difference- cliché I know! But there is nothing more touching than having a woman tell you that you made a difference-no matter how small it is. Most of these women I have only known for a few hours, but I’ll be a part of their special day forever. To know that I have done my job, and helped them in some way is amazing.
What is your least favourite?
Again, there are obvious sad days a midwife has to face. Days you wish in your career will be few and far between. On a day to day basis though…paperwork is probably up there as a pet hate! Having to record the same piece of information in 3 or more places, and having to take time away from women to satisfy paperwork needs. Also bed making!
What inspired you to become a midwife?
Again, I think a love of all things pregnancy and birth. I was also brought up by a mother who was very open and honest about these things. I was brought up to believe that birthing a baby is empowering and achievable-that each woman has that strength in her. I had imagined that labour and birth was an amazing experience- and I just wanted to witness it for myself.
What inspires you about the women you meet?
I can’t get over just how strong women are. You can hear about labour and birth, but to actually see it in action is another story. Women overcome fears, pain, nausea, annoying husbands, a barrage of “how’s it all going” text messages and the little voice inside their head that makes them doubt their strength. Women fight through all these things to bring their little beings into the world.
And that’s not to take away from women who have caesareans- they too are amazingly strong. They have had major abdominal surgery, yet are still able to get up 2, 3, 5, 10 times a night to feed/change/feed/cuddle their newborn baby.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about birthing babies.
The mysterious purple line. I am fascinated and excited every time I see this. In quite a lot of women, as labour is progressing a mysterious purple line starts to appear at the top of the bottom. As the cervix becomes fully dilated it becomes quite thick and shoots up the lower back. I could jump for joy when I see this, particularly when a woman is struggling through the transitional stage. I can say without doing a vaginal examination that labour is nearing an end!
What is your advice to first time mums that are scared about birthing?
Do your research and birth with someone you trust, in a place that you trust. I think fear and tension is the number 1 thing that affects an otherwise normal labour and birth. It is proven that adrenaline, which is released when you are afraid negatively impacts on labour by blocking the hormone that makes you contract. If you research about labour and birth you can prepare strategies to cope with it. Also empower yourself by reading empowering birth stories. Listening to too many horror stories will not do you any good. And always remember that billions of women have gone through this before you and survived. Trust that your body is built for this-all you have to do is tune in, listen and trust it.
In a few words describe the emotions you feel when a baby is born.
Excited, relieved, on a high.
How do you feel about birth photography?
I think it’s great and would love to see more of it. It has the power to capture raw emotion that is not staged or contrived. I also think it would be another empowering tool for other women preparing for birth.
What are women’s options for home-birth in Brisbane?
This is not something I know too much about. There are certainly more and more midwives getting into home birth. There is obviously a fee involved (not sure how much). The exciting thing that has happened recently is the ability for midwives to practice privately. This means that ‘eligible’ midwives can provide private antenatal and postnatal care to women; and these women can claim a Medicare benefit. Often times these appointments are in the family home, or a non-clinical centre. These midwives work in collaboration with GPs and obstetricians, so can refer on if there is an issue. They are also very close to being able to provide birth care in hospitals which will also be claimable under Medicare. This type of care is great for women who want personal care that carries on weeks into the postnatal period whilst still having the safety net of a hospital birth.