pregnancy

A midwife writes: 'What we really think when we see a pregnant woman's vagina'.

I think there is a drastic misconception about midwives. This comes from the very private nature of birth giving and the intimate space and time we share with women. Often women say things to me like, “well you’ve seen everything”, “when you come to have a baby, your dignity flies out the window”. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

And because we midwives spend a lot of time around naked women pushing babies out of their incredible bodies, I get the idea that they feel like we analyse or remember their anatomy.

Watch: Bec Judd explains how she came to be… 47 weeks pregnant (post continues after video…)

Video by MWN

I once cared for a woman that I later became friends with through our children going to the same school. Long after her birth I noticed a tattoo on her leg and said, “that is a nice tattoo”, to which she replied something like “didn’t you notice that when I was having my baby”. Uh, no I didn’t. I was kind of busy listening to your baby’s heart beat and keeping your birth space all zen, and checking the birth pool temp and writing bloody notes to see that.

When you enter the world of birthing as a mother your vagina does not have a memorable identity. Unless it has its own speakers, flashing lights or is covered in vajazzle bling we don’t see it.

"I didn't notice your vagina because, I was kind of busy listening to your baby’s heart beat." (Image: iStock)
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I know that might sound a little bit silly. But its true, ask any midwife! Unless she is a bonified, qualified yoni massage therapist/warrior, she see’s a birth canal with a cervix inside it. She sees layers of skin and muscle. She see’s an amazing organ, all of which are unique, but ultimately the same. I mean yes, I see vagina’s all of the time but I pay no attention to what they actually look like.

Whenever a woman has requested or consented to a check of her cervix, a stretch and sweep, needs a speculum to check if her waters have broken etc etc etc Midwives and Doctors alike perform such tasks without even registering the vagina very much at all.

And I guess you might be wondering why exactly I am making a point of telling you this?

To give all of you ladies back the privacy you deserve. Yes birth can make you feel like you are naked and flapping about in the breeze on the top of a hill in the middle of a supermarket the day before the Easter long weekend. But there just is no need for that! Because even though you’re naked birth giving body is there, we ain’t lookin!

Sure we see the basics, but we certainly don’t spend a single second pondering on the details of your labia, or your butt or your breasts, let alone remember them. I believe that comes down to the fact that we see soooo many, we are very accustomed to celebrating diversity and caring for women. And many of us are women.

Listen: Midwife Cath talks Bec Judd and Monique Bowley through how to breathe during labour on Hello Bump (post continues after audio...)

Now, don’t interpret this as meaning that I don’t have 200% R.E.S.P.E.C.T for the vag – I do. And then some! That tiny little key hole is capable of amazing things! And if you expected a midwife to love an honour the vagina, we most certainly do – however we don’t need to stare at, analyse or remember each one to do that.

So if you have given birth, are going to give birth or want to give birth one day just remember – we don’t see you as your naked individual, sometimes self conscious (in a good way) and private self. We just see a woman giving birth, we listen to her baby’s little heart beat and we keep that birth space all zen while writing notes and caring for you on the day your life changes for ever.

This post originally appeared on The Moderate Midwife.

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