Community and home came across to me as themes of episode three of “Call the Midwife”. Jenny learns that what she defines as a comfortable home if different than what many of her clients consider home.
Like preterm birth, homelessness and unsafe housing are still problems 70 years later. Her friend Jimmy is essentially homeless – sleeping on floors and in boiler rooms. Jenny comes to appreciate that her patient Joe has made a home in what many would consider suboptimal conditions. When Joe is forced out of his home and community, his health declines rapidly.
Patients come to us for brief episodes of care – office checkups, hospital deliveries, or hospital stays. Patients spend most of their time in their own home. Teaching people to care for themselves and their family in their own home is at the heart of health care today. I often tell the women I care for that I talk so much to try to teach them all the need to know. If problems develop when they are at home they can report it to me. I can’t be with them 24 hours each day, but hopefully the things I teach them can be with them 24 hours a day.
For my patients to put their trust in me, I must be nonjudgmental. I think many midwives have had a couple where infidelity is discovered at the delivery. I know I have been at deliveries where the baby is greeted with awkward silence and tears of regret. Many nurse midwives will tell you that just because you had baby or fathered a child does not make you a parent. It is the start of the process of building a home and a community to raise a child.
Pregnancy does not happen in a bubble. Women live and love and birth in a community. The privilege of being a midwife is sharing that community with them.