Midwife secrets you never knew about labour and birth
1. Poo during labour really doesn’t bother us at all.
All pregnant women are terrified of pooing during the birth of their baby. When you’re pushing your baby out and everything “down there” is being compressed from the inside, it’s not surprising that poo and wee are squeezed out too. And usually we can whisk it away before you even know it’s happened. It doesn’t bother us — we’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again, and it’s totally normal. Also, you might vomit during labour, and we’ve seen that before too. Try not to be embarrassed!
2. September is our busiest month.
Gee, I wonder what couples are doing around Christmas and New Year’s? It’s hard for us to take holidays in September because it’s the month when the most babies are born in NZ! In fact, according to Statistics NZ, the most popular birthday in NZ is 30 September, and the 10 most common birthdays all happen in the 10-day period from 22 September to 1 October. So if you’re due in September or early October, book in with your midwife as soon as you can, because we can book up quickly for that time of the year.
3. If you want us to kick someone out of the delivery room, we will.
If you don’t want your sister in there because she won’t shut up and you can’t concentrate on breathing through your contractions, you can have a quiet word to us and we will kick her out in a heartbeat. And we won’t mind at all, because her chatter is probably making us crazy too. Ditto if there’s someone you absolutely don’t want to wander in during the main event — like your mother-in-law. Tell us ahead of time so we know, and we can keep her out. Perhaps the best-kept of all midwife secrets is that we’re always on YOUR side!
4. We can tell a lot about how labour is going just by talking to you.
Here’s a hint: If you can still carry on a conversation with us without needing to stop for contractions, you’re probably not yet ready to come into hospital. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but when it comes to a normal pregnancy and labour and we’ve got enough info from you about what you’re experiencing, we can pretty confidently tell you to stay home for a bit longer. That’s why we have guidelines for when to come into hospital based on your contraction length and how far apart they are. So when you call us to say you’re in labour, and we tell you you’re not ready to come in yet, trust us.
5. Sometimes we get covered in… Well, just about anything.
Blood, mucous, vomit, wee, poo, amniotic fluid… When you give birth, there can be a buildup of fluid behind the baby that just comes roaring out when the baby arrives. And no way are we going to step out of the way when we’re catching your baby! That’s why some midwives wear plastic goggles when you’re pushing, so they can protect their eyes from all the natural, normal fluids that we may end up wearing. And we’re used to it. It’s all part of the job, so don’t feel embarrassed.
6. We don’t care if you’re groomed.
We know that by the end of the third trimester, you can’t see anything below your belly, and shaving your legs is downright dangerous when you can’t even see your legs (let alone reach them easily). Belly hair, pubic hair, bottom hair, leg hair, we’ve seen it all, and we don’t care. If you want to get a wax before the birth for your own sanity, by all means, do it — but it’s not a prerequisite, and we’re not going to text our midwife friends following the birth and gossip about how hairy you were. I promise.
7. We still think birth is magical, even if we’ve seen it a thousand times.
We love watching parents being born — that moment when you see your baby for the first time is just as beautiful to us every time as it was the first time. Meeting a brand-new person is amazing. Being part of that experience is a privilege and we get high on it. And we love cuddling your baby, but we don’t want to seem pushy, so we usually wait til you offer — and then we will snuggle that newborn and sniff his or her little head and remember why we love what we do, even though it’s hard.
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Image courtesy of Sharon at Bloom Photography (bloomphotography.co.nz).