“To say I love my midwife is nothing short of an understatement.” This quote rather sums up the value of midwifery from a caring professional. Melanie Clough, a Lung Mei resident, appears to be such a person, attending thousands of births in 24 years. She offers midwifery services through her business, Mum’s The Word.
Midwives work with women to give one-to-one care during pregnancy, labour and postnatally. They are experts in normal delivery and newborn care and can tell early when things are not right and an obstetrician or pediatrician should be called.
Many women never forget their midwife. Here’s the full quote (about an overseas midwife): “To say I love my midwife is nothing short of an understatement. After going through a very difficult first birth because of unnecessary medical interventions,
I knew there had to be a better way to experience birth. She helped me through to the very end, through every tear and drop of sweat, she stood by me, saying, “You can do this’.”
It is a complex subject and we have space only for snapshots of what midwifery is about:
PRE-CONCEPTION: It is important for women wanting to conceive to take folic acid until the 12th week of pregnancy, because it reduces the chance of neural tube defects (spina bifida).
ANTENATAL: A baby is best positioned for birth if the crown of the head presents in the cervix first and the baby is facing mum’s back. It is not so good if the forehead of baby appears first in the cervix and the baby’s body is turned the same way as mum’s. By encouraging the mother to be active and keep fit later in the pregnancy a midwife can ensure optimum fetal positioning.
REDUCING COMPLICATIONS, PAIN AND COSTS: Midwife care can result in lower rates of Caesarean births, of labour induction, severe perineal tears, episiotomy (surgical cutting of the perineum) and invasive interventions.
PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT: Melanie says this is about “empowering women, cheerleading. A midwife knows and a woman knows the midwife knows. Antenatal care is about making sure mum is forewarned so she is forearmed.” A woman who is relatively calm will have easier labour, less pain and less severe perineal tears. She will also generate more oxytocin, the hormone that helps cause contractions.
BREAST-FEEDING: Although it may seem entirely natural for mum and baby, it is not so easy. Skills need to be learned. “Skin to skin” is very important for the new-born and for mum. Melanie says a baby should be placed on the mother’s chest almost immediately after birth. Breast-feeding should be started within an hour. “It leads to better regulation of baby’s temperature, heart rate and and breathing rate.”
POST-NATAL DEPRESSION: “Most women get some element of the baby blues. They go through hormone change and are out of kilter emotionally especially around the third day after birth.” It is important for the husband to understand and to help a woman if she feels low weeks, sometimes months later, and to seek help.
BABY ILLNESSES AND RESUSCITATION: A midwife can teach new parents how to ensure home safety and recognise and respond to illness. Melanie teaches how to deal with a choking child and resuscitate it.
MASSAGING OF BABIES: This may strengthen the bond between parent and child, reduce colic and promote good sleep. Singing during massage can help develop language skills.
“Love doesn’t adhere to time or boundaries, does it? It just is,” Jennifer Worth, author of a trilogy on midwifery, beginning with Call The Midwife.
See www.mumstheword.expert Melanie offers home visits and antenatal classes, baby cafe where mums get together and baby massage classes at Resurrection Church’s Life Centre plus a postnatal clinic near Fusion.