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Pearls from the First Year: Nurture Yourself

by Guest Blogger Aubre Tompkins, CNM

Aubre Tompkins, CNM, is in her second year as a midwife. She has been guest blogging about the lessons she’s learned in a series for ACNM. Check out her other posts here:

Pearls #1 and #2: Remember to Breathe, and Listen
Pearl #3: Emotions are Healthy
Pearl #4: Be Humble
Pearl #5: Be Water
Pearl #6: It Takes a Village

I love this work. It is fulfilling, inspiring, challenging and never dull. This work is also extremely demanding and can take its toll on both body and mind. There are days that will leave your frayed ends quite frazzled. Over time, these days can add up and lead to a near-depleted midwife. This ties into my 7th Pearl, Nurture Yourself. This is by no means a new concept. We read about it often, are told about it in school, and read articles on the topic by our peers. The very fact that it is so prevalent points to its importance, and the reality that it is advice frequently not followed. Burnout is a real and true concern in our profession and something to guard against, for ourselves and the families we serve.

The very nature of our work is potentially draining. As we all know, the term “midwife” means “with woman.” This means that we have chosen to walk beside her, with her on the path. We will be available to her, we will educate her, encourage her empowerment, be with her during her birth time, and help her to navigate the beginning steps on the path toward motherhood. Though heartbreaking, we will, occasionally, need to help support her through loss. We will assist her in choosing the best way to plan her family. When the time comes, we will help her through menopause and beyond. Now multiply all this by all the women we see over the years and it can add up! It takes a lot of energy, time and heart to fulfill this task. As a mother, one of the hardest and most crucial lessons that I have learned is that I must take care of myself. If I am a burned-out mess, I am no good to my children. This same lesson must be applied to our work as midwives.

So, find what feeds you, other than midwifery. This is crucial. I have discovered that I am a better midwife when I spend time not being one. Find a fulfilling and nurturing hobby, a space where you are not the midwife, where you do not have to be “on and in charge.” Regularly move your body, keep your joints and muscles oiled and flexible. Drink a lot of water and sometimes wine. Relax in the sun. Laugh with your family and friends and take vacations. I know all this seems so obvious and simplified. However, it is the obvious and simple things that are most easily taken for granted and misplaced.

Posted 5/3/2012 1:50:20 PM



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