I’ve compiled a little list of things to know about midwives. Here’s part 1.
Caution, it may gross some people out!
1-We don’t always like being told we must have the “best job” in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, yes, most of us love our jobs, but those who think we have the best job don’t see all the stressful things we deal with. We see the miracle of birth, women and their families on the happiest days of their lives, but we also see people on their worst days. Woman having miscarriages, women having babies born sleeping (stillborn) and women having traumatic deliveries. Abusive patients, abusive families, it’s all part of the job.
We also have to deal with a lot of women who are sleep deprived and more often than not, in pain. Not a good combo. (And that’s just the other midwives!)
We’ve been spat on, hit, kicked, sworn at, threatened, been covered in other women’s bodily fluids, had babies wee and poo on us. It’s not all cute babies, hugs, flowers and chocolates. As a matter of fact I forget the last time I was given a box of chocolates for caring for a woman and her baby. The only chocolates most mere midwives see, are the fundraising ones that are a permanent fixture on most wards. The Freddo frogs call out to us at 2am, begging to be eaten. Midwives must almost buy enough fundraising chocolate to fund an entire 3rd world country for a year.
2-We aren’t all quiet and caring.
We are caring , yes, but we cope with stress in different ways. We have to deal with some traumatic and sometimes well, pretty gross situations, all while woman are shouting some of the worst expletives known to man at us. How do we cope? With a very dark sense of humour.
We also see more vaginas than most male porn stars do in their lifetime. Couple that with the dark sense of humour as a coping strategy and you’ve got a group of women with a vocabulary worse than a sailors and a sense of humour darker than anything you’ve ever heard. It’s very hard to offend a midwife with a dirty joke…. we’ve heard (and sometime seen) it all.
For all those partners, friends and family of midwives, as you know, mealtimes can be interesting. Never expect to eat a meal with a group of us and not hear some story that would turn the staunchest man off their food. From cutting episiotomies, explaining 3rd degree tears, stories of being soaked to the underwear in some woman’s amniotic fluid, to describing the treatment of a cord prolapse and demonstrating how far their hand was inside a woman’s vagina. All the while, we keep shovelling our food in our gobs, without batting an eye.
3- Bodily fluids don’t bother us
Blood, sweat, amniotic fluid, urine, vomit, breast milk…..we’ve seen it all and at some time in our careers, been covered in it. If you want someone calm in an emergency, that’s us. Unless it’s more than 500ml of blood on the floor, we’re not too concerned.
We can take blood, cannulate (put a drip in) and suture. Mind you, I don’t know how I’d go stitching up anything other than a perineum. But at a pinch I’d give it a red hot go.
Just a note, if you ever see us in our uniforms, I wouldn’t give us a hug, or have any bodily contact with us at all. Wait until we’ve showered and scrubbed all our work away.