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Pearls from the First Year: It Takes a Village

by Guest Blogger Aubre Tompkins, CNM

Aubre Tompkins, CNM, is beginning her second year as a midwife. She has been guest blogging about the lessons she’s learned during her first year in a series for ACNM. Check out her first four posts here:
Pearls #1 and #2: Remember to Breathe, and Listen
Pearl #3: Emotions are Healthy
Pearl #4: Be Humble
Pearl #5: Be Water

I have been struggling with how to title this Pearl. Wanting to phrase it just right and not have it sound too corny. Finally, after much debate, I just decided on a very well-known phrase: It takes a village. I know that this title may sound like a cliché. However, it is a definite truth, and some clichés are made because they are so true. One of my mentors has a saying, “This is not the midwife show.” Meaning that what we do is about so much more than ourselves. It is easy to get caught up in the feeling that the midwife is the star of the show. As I have written in other posts, midwives can easily be placed upon a pedestal. As a new midwife, I would have been lost without our entire crew. This includes midwives, nurses, administrative staff, lactation consultants, doulas, and consulting physicians.

Clinic days are busy. We, of course, have prenatal exams, but also well woman exams, postpartum visits, IUD placements, and preconception visits. This variety is one of the many things I love about my job: It is never boring. Working in the clinic is like being a part of a highly productive team, we all must keep up our duties and help each other out. In our clinic, we always have at least one midwife, many times two, a registered nurse (RN) and our administrative assistant. I hesitate to use the term “administrative assistant” as it comes nowhere close to describing her duties. Really, she is more like the quarterback, keeping us all in line, on schedule, and on task. She is responsible for the overall atmosphere in the clinic and creating a welcoming and warm environment. The RN is also equally important, directing us midwives where to go next, helping with education, answering questions, and assisting with procedures. Basically, we could not function without each staff member. To me, working out of hospital is wonderful. It leads to an intensely intimate experience. It also means that the team is even more crucial. At a birth, the clinical responsibility lies entirely upon the midwife and the nurse. We work together, equally as a unit. As a midwife, I need all the support of this village that surrounds me.

Additionally, as a hallmark of midwifery care, the woman and her family are a central part of this village. Midwifery care is educationally intensive for the woman and she is trusted to make true informed decisions about her care. The woman is integral to the team, and an equal with all the members. It is crucial for us to assist her in cultivating her own power. This happens along every step of the way, as she schedules classes, speaks with the nurse about her questions, and builds a relationship with the midwives. She may reach out in her community to find a doula, who will also support her through this process. All of these interactions are helping her to build confidence and strength. Furthermore, she is learning that she is not alone, that she has a village of support persons to surround her. For all these reasons, we must embrace our team and foster the community around us.

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 2/29/2012 8:46:00 AM



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