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"Some of us can lactate as well": The 5 things you don’t know about being a midwife.

Becoming a midwife in my early twenties has given me the most incredible window into the very essence of life. 

From complex relationship dynamics and how the human body processes pain, to managing life-threatening emergencies and bearing witness to hundreds of first breaths, I have had the privilege of being at the frontline of it all. 

Watch midwife Cath Curtain bust some birth myths. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

This has left me with some pretty unique insights and exhilarating stories to tell from the birth unit floor. A common saying within midwifery is, 'What could be more beautiful than bringing new life into the world?' and this is at the very centre of what we do. 

Through my uncanny knack to insert the subject of birth and vaginas into any conversation, no matter who the audience is, I’ve learnt that the role of a midwife and the nature of birth is very much kept a mystery to the outside world.

So what better opportunity to share what it’s like to be a birth worker than let you in on some things you probably don’t know about being a midwife?

1. Midwives cry too.

Nothing gets me in a slobbering mess more than a partner absolutely losing it at a birth. There is nothing like bearing witness to the cumulation of two people creating a human being together and becoming parents for the first time. Especially when this involves hours of enduring labour to get there.  

Although generally, the job does involve boundless joy and euphoric celebrations, there are also times of devastating sadness. As a midwife, walking with women in their grief is just as significant as the joy. Holding space for families who have unexpectedly lost their children and, with it, a future they envisioned, is one the hardest aspects but also the greatest privileges of the job. As catastrophic as it can be, there is nothing more humbling than knowing, along with the parents, that you are one of the only people in this world to know a baby born sleeping.

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2. Some midwives can lactate as well.

We too are around the cocktail of hormones involved in the production of milk, allowing some of us the incredible superpower that is creating something that can sustain another life and grow a child. 

3. Midwives are the absolute last people you need to be embarrassed in front of.

Whether you’ve stood up after birth and are leaking blood all over the floor, screaming every possible swear word under the sun, unexpectedly poo in labour or rip your clothes off during transition, we’ve seen it all and have your back.

We will also fervently deny any of it ever happened if questioned (just make sure your partners are on the same page – there’s nothing worse than reassuring a woman that she didn’t poo in labour only to have a clueless husband chime in to confirm that she in fact did.)

4. Midwifery is the second oldest profession in the world.

What comes first you may ask? That would be prostitution.

Midwives have been around since the beginning of time, which is crazy to think about given modern obstetrics and gynaecology have really only been on the scene for the last 300 years or so. Midwifery is not an option you’d generally pick out of a career guide on a whim, but rather something you get called to. 

For me it began as a child with my pregnant barbie doll Midge. Her baby was caught hundreds of times before I ever saw my first birth at age 19. As a midwife, you feel invited into a secret society in which you are taught that women are incredibly powerful and perform miracles daily. 

Tylah at work. Image: Supplied. 

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5. Always trust a midwife's intuition.

Next to a psychic accurately detailing predictions of your future, a midwife's intuition is the next best thing. Any experienced midwife will tell you that their greatest clinical skill is their intuition, this utter 'knowing' about how something is going to go down before it actually does, often without an explanation. 

I will never forget my first experience with this as a new graduate midwife working on a postnatal ward. I was systematically going from room to room, participating in daily postnatal checks, when something just told me I need to go into a certain room. 

This was completely out of the routine I would have normally followed and I never strayed from this, so as not to forget anything, but the feeling became so overwhelming that it was almost compulsive. Upon entering the room I approached a mother breastfeeding, her partner standing over her and two of the grandparents also watching on. 

As I approached the bed, I noticed something didn't seem right. I asked the mum if I could take the baby from her to check it and upon lifting it up, noticed it was blue and floppy. I recall running it out to the midwives and placing it on a resuscitation trolley where thankfully, it was made to breathe again. Now every time I feel that sense of 'knowing' rise up, I trust it without question and start getting prepared for anything. 

Ultimately, the world of midwifery is its own unique microcosm of society and every day is completely different. It is simultaneously the most gut-wrenching and fulfilling profession I believe exists, combining clinical skills and medical knowledge with people skills you just can’t get out of a textbook. 

There are days where I just can’t believe I get paid to feel so incredible and experience so much, and days where I feel like throwing it all in as I cry all the way home, but there is nothing else I couldn't imagine myself doing.

Feature Image: Supplied.