The Joy and Power of Midwifery Led Continuity of Care in Pregnancy, Birth and beyond
Image of me - my first babe tucked inside, almost halfway through our pregnancy.
We transition from maiden to mother via the demanding, blissful, overwhelming, divine and unexplainably huge passage of pregnancy, childbirth, and postnatal period.
It is the transition of all transitions.
In my first pregnancy having a known midwife that understood and aligned with my values was crucial in shaping a positive crossing-of-the-threshold experience into motherhood.
I leant on my midwife in ways I had not expected I would. She was a source of information, guidance and assistance, but also of softness, encouragement and perspective.
As women we need strength and power to stand beside us at this time.
If something comes up in pregnancy, or we need encouragement and direction in birthing. If we require extended support around breastfeeding or any of the other components of postnatal repair and adjustment. We need that courage and known experience beside us.
Often things arise during this transition period that require our undivided strength and attention. The time frame can be tight to make supported and informed decisions. We are often required to learn and adapt to the ever-changing needs of this tricky crossover terrain.
To navigate this terrain confidently we need direct access to both information and strength. Having a known (and divine) entity beside us can be pure gold.
Three years have passed and I still think about the midwife that supported me through my first pregnancy, birth and postnatal transition almost every day.
She was invaluable. The gratitude flows deep. And I'm not sure how I could have done it without her.
So I'm keen to offer some specific examples about how a known, experienced midwife can provide both information and support. To demonstrate the holding and care I felt deep in my bones at this time, and the scope of her impact.
Because of my midwife I...
Felt clear about what actions needed to be taken to manage my pregnancy complications
Felt confident in my ability to step towards birthing a ‘big baby’
Was able to stay centred as I went past dates
Felt able to melt the fear I felt as labour intensified just by looking into her eyes
Wasn't scared of the power of my body. The power that could pass through my body. To bring this baby to life.
Deeply heard her when she came to the side of the birth pool and whispered ‘Ok Amy. Time to let everything else go. You can do this.’ With those words my brain, surrendering to my primal self.
Was able to stick with the intensity of labour when I thought I was further along than I was
Felt able to let my body take the lead, entirely free from instruction
Birthed that baby standing
Was aware of a tongue tie and latch issues early
Learned the intensive skill of finger feeding a newborn through a tiny straw
Learnt how to use a hospital grade breast pump to manage oversupply
Was set up with shields - which basically allowed breastfeeding to establish and continue
Was promptly referred to the breastfeeding unit for further care
My intense labour flashbacks were normalised
Understood deeply and practically the importance of postpartum rest
Felt the mountain I had climbed reflected back at me with pure awe and admiration
Felt deeply aware how incredible my body had been in those moments
Felt any thoughts of failure slip away
Was able to completely debrief my birthing experience, and step into a feeling of fierce readiness for subsequent birth experiences
No one has held such sacred space for me like that.
And now, because of my midwife, I stand completely in my power.
On this day, every day that has passed and every day that will follow.
So, if you plan to birth in the future, lean on your curiosity. Have a look into the different available options for maternity care. Is Continuity of Care available to you? Who deeply aligns with your desires for this transition? Who is both knowledgable and skilled to take you where we are keen to go.
Prompt: How can you step towards a pregnancy, birth and post natal period where you feel strong, supported, educated and held?