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
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.