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Pearls From the First Year: Remember to Breathe, and Listen

by Aubre Tompkins, CNM

Sitting down to write this piece, I traveled back to my first days as a brand new, shiny midwife. Luckily, as it has not been that long ago, the trip was quick. Many thoughts and questions were running through my mind at that time: excitement, anxiety, joy, apprehension. Can I remember all that I have learned in these last few years? Am I truly ready for this imposing duty? As a new practitioner, it is all too easy to become overwhelmed with the technical details of the work. All the learned information from your educational program can be swimming inside your head, swirling around the edges, overfilling your brain. It is easy to lose sight of the reason we have chosen this profession. The reason we sacrificed all the time and energy, stayed up late, drank too much coffee, and missed our own families is so that we can be “with woman.” So we can have the honor and responsibility of supporting, nurturing, and guiding her through life’s stages. From my first year of practice, I was able to learn many lessons and look forward to sharing them here, with you, through this series of posts on Pearls from the First Year.

One of the first and most simplistically beautiful things I learned was from the first few women I assisted in labor. As I sat with these awesome women through their labors, I often found myself guiding them to breathe, to open and relax, to take long, slow deep breaths, to focus on that place that allows the oxygen to flow through them and give them strength to move forward, to calm, and to soothe. At some point, I realized that I also needed to follow my own breath, to find my own strength and focus. This is Pearl #1: Remember to breathe. In all the moments in which we are called to be present, to labor-sit another hour, to manage a complication, to educate and to guide, we must be present and focused. So in those moments, always allow yourself to focus and breathe and you will be a better care provider. It seems so obvious, yet is so easy to lose sight of this advice, even as we are giving it to others!

We, as midwives, have trained to serve and care for women and to guide them through this process. However, we must always be open to the lessons that they have to teach us. Which leads me to Pearl #2: Listen to your women and their families; they are full of knowledge. I am constantly learning new insights from my clients, new ways to look at a problem, new questions to follow up on. No one will know your client better than her; no one else will have the same insight into her life and body. I am by no means the first to say it, but it bears repeating; always, always listen to the women.

Aubre Tompkins became a certified nurse-midwife in 2010. She has a busy family, with three fantastic children and a great husband. She lives in Denver and works at Colorado's only freestanding birth center, Mountain Midwifery Center. She has been learning to knit for the past 3 years and is almost done with her first scarf. Her blog, With Woman, The First Year…And Beyond, is a chronicle of her experiences from her developing career.

Posted 9/16/2011 11:46:25 AM



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