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I’m working my way through Birthwork by Jenny Blyth (isn’t the cover magnificent?!) and thought it would be appropriate to share my thoughts here. This book is more than just a casual read. In it, Jenny discusses the more profound aspects of being with women/families in birth and the thoughts/feelings/actions we have surrounding such an intimate event. Each section ends with probing questions for the reader to digest, making this more of a tool than a book.

Care Awareness

1. How did you become involved in birth work?

2009 ~ Watching the births of my brothers as a teenager really captivated me. I remember the midwife, after Sage’s birth, commenting that I would make a good midwife. It didn’t immediately settle me upon this path but it did plant a seed. After L’s birth, I felt very traumatized and propelled myself down the path of knowledge surrounding birth. When I became pregnant with B, midwifery care was the only option I ever considered. His birth transformed me. I was hooked on midwives, doulas, home birth, and have been ever since. The feeling of empowerment that came from that experience was intensely gratifying. It was really hard work, but *I* did it. I knew then that I wanted, more like I NEEDED, to help other women experience that. If every family could have just a small inkling of that feeling, I think it would make a huge difference.

2013 ~ Sometime in the last few years, it has become clear that I am “called”. I started dreaming of births, of women, of babies. I started feeling like what I knew wasn’t enough, then people started asking me about things and I realized there was an expectation, so I had better know my stuff!

2. What does providing care mean to you?

2009 ~ I think the term “providing care” can encompass so much. For me, providing care is dependent upon each family’s set of particular needs. I think empathy, compassion and knowledge of the birth process are paramount in this situation. In order to know what the family needs/expects, I must empathize and understand, as well as actively listen. During my time with them, my sole focus should be them/her. I think another important aspect of providing care is having clear boundaries that everyone involved understands and respects.

2013 ~ Ah, boundaries. Those are hard to define these days. When one has tools to help another, is it okay to withhold? I understand and accept that there are definitions or specifications or whatever with certain roles. So I guess I feel like “providing care” is assisting motherbaby/family in whatever way is requested, within my knowledge/skill base. 

3. Which role do you play as care provider? How clear is that role?

Right now, I feel my roles are in transition. I think I am confidante, trusted friend, avid listener, loving support, unconditional, toucher (is that even a word?!), dutiful servant. My defined role is doula. I have consciously chosen to remain uncertified so my offerings to families are dictated by them.

4. What practical skills do you have to offer or share?

5. What personal skills do you have to offer or share?

What is the difference? I’m not sure. Empathy, compassion, loving touch. Knowledge of the birth process, some complications, some interventions. Hands-on skills such as counter pressure, movement/position, some rebozo. Ability to keep calm under pressure, plan & strategize solving problems. Diplomatic and clear communication with others.

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