How are you? I have spoken with several of your colleagues, others have written to me. They have told me of your feelings of frustration and impotence, of your exhaustion, of your giving of self. Of the difficult job you are facing in your birthing rooms since the coronavirus pandemic began. Of how practices have changed, how some girth wards have been closed down and how some of you have been asked to work as nurses in adult wards or even in Intensive Care Units. Of how you have fought to defend your work, but especially of your battle to defend mothers and babies. To protect birth, to make sure mothers can labor with the companion of their choice, can experience that sacred moment of birth feeling supported, to ensure babies and mothers are kept together after birth. That is why I feel the need to write to you: to thank you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. As I write, I shed tears thinking of you, in all the midwives in my life (I am fortunate…). I am moved that you have moved, that you have made a stand and abstained from the wave of obstetric violence born of fear that this pandemic has caused. Thank you for saying these words, loud and clear:
Today, your birth was stolen from you. An arbitrary decision, not evidence-based but based on fear, posturing and empty propaganda. When push comes to shove it is you, the birthing woman, who is left behind. Signed: a midwife.
What you are doing is so important… I know that you know, but I also feel not everyone knows, not even feminism knows. Your work with and for women is priceless, it is vital. We need you, always.
News during these days of pandemic are harsh. So much fear in pregnant women; you tell me that many of those who arrive in labor are very scared. They are fortunate if they come to you, who will greet them with a smile under the mask, with your beautiful eyes that overflow with respect and admiration for women and trust in the ability to give birth, with your professionality.
I hope you come through this crisis strengthened, empowered. Now that hospitals have become a high risk zone for infection, I believe we have to start a dialogue about promoting independent birthing facilities run by midwives, like in other European countries. Perhaps now it is time to start implementing birthing hotels, were mothers can give birth without the need for a hospital, in the care of experienced midwives. In any case, we shall have to celebrate your victories when this is over… like midwives in Spain, who have fought for and achieved that women regain their right to give birth with the companion of their choice. Way to go!!
When you tell me you are doing yet one more shift, giving it all you have – when you tell me you are doing ok, thanks to the oxytocin boost you get from each beautiful labor – I don´t think it is enough. I think you need more rest, more recognition, higher pay, more support. Even therapy, now more than ever, to prevent post-traumatic stress.
In any case, I just wanted to thank you today.
The illustration is a gift from Susanna Carmona
Translation by Carmela Baeza, MD, IBCLC