Voice of a mother: You've got the power
Katelyn Jones describes what a woman in labour really needs from her midwife (besides the obvious).
First-time mother, 5cm dilated, no current pain relief – a case I’m sure most midwives are accustomed to.
Not so much for the woman (me) who is walking/raging into the labour ward with no idea where she’s going, who is definitely not ready, who is in too much pain to be nice and who feels powerless and out of control.
As a soon-to-be student midwife, one day I’ll be in your selfless and overworked shoes, so I want to apologise for being selfish and asking one thing more of you. We mums need to be given back our sense of power and control that flies away when this tiny little person – or people – invades our body.
Excruciating pain ripping through my body was at the forefront of my mind, not my poor midwives – whose names I never got to know, which I’ll always feel guilty about. I interrupted their lunch just for one to come over and give me what seemed like simple breathing techniques – which she probably just did without thinking when she saw me – but was the holy grail in my life at that time. She didn’t even have to as she was on her lunch, but she saw I needed her and she had the power to share. That was step one to regaining the power that left me.
Step two was another midwife bringing me back to reality. She completely understood why I wasn’t listening or cooperating and was thinking of nothing but the pain, and she gave me a piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten on my journey through motherhood: ‘You’re strong enough to get here, you’re strong enough to get through this, your daughter needs you.’ She silenced all the madness and chaos with these words, and handed me back on a plate the motherly instinct I needed. It reminded me why this was happening and what I was achieving rather than what I was going through. Beauty is pain.
These two small acts were possibly not remembered by the midwives who helped me, so they don’t realise that what they did made me look back on my final journey into motherhood feeling proud, powerful and definitely the right person to be a mother to my tiny baby girl. And they did it simply by giving me back the power that pregnancy had taken from me.
People get caught up thinking that labour should only be a beautiful and soft experience with candles and silence. It can be, but it can also be powerful, and require courage and strength, which has stayed with me all the way to now.
Whenever I feel like I’m not doing a good enough job, or I’m failing in one way or another, I remember these nameless angels and what they told me. Then I take a deep breath and power through it.
Katelyn Jones is mum to Ella and will be a student midwife from September.