“Midwifery matters and caring for women matters”, says Chummy near the end of this first episode. There is good reason for her and all midwives I know to feel this way. We see it and feel it everyday. Jenny Lee felt it when she reassured her frightened patient as she was about to give birth at the beginning of the episode. She knew it as she carefully listened to the new mother concerned about her 2 sick children throughout the episode and as Chummy summoned all her calm and knowledge to manage “stuck shoulders”, knowing that baby’s life was in her hands, she knew it well. The tears of relief after this birth are testament to how much Chummy felt it mattered. I have felt that and cried those tears after a stressful delivery.
Interestingly, one of the positions Chummy used to help free the stuck baby, the one where she had the mother get onto her hands and knees, is now called the Gaskin Maneuver. Midwives have likely used this simple but effective technique for ions but it was not known or used in hospitals until Ina May Gaskin published an article in a medical journal in 1998 describing it. Ms. Gaskin is a direct-entry midwife. These are midwives who may not be nurses and have achieved their midwifery education outside of traditional university and hospital settings. The Gaskin Manuever is now regularly taught to physicians and midwives as one of several steps in managing the emergency known as shoulder dystocia. That matters because when a baby’s life is in your hands you want as many tools as possible at your disposal.
In 1976 Ina May Gaskin published the seminal book, “Spiritual Midwifery”. This book reflected the era of change in which it was published, challenging the status quo. As a new obstetrical nurse this book changed my whole perspective on what birth should and could be and definitely influenced my decision to become a midwife. I suspect many others were inspired as well. Ina May Gaskin and I and all of midwifery believe that how you care for women matters greatly.
How do you think midwifery and caring for women matters?