My labour with my first daughter, came on fast and furious. Sam dragged me into the hospital (I was in denial about being almost ready to push out a baby!), and I spent the ‘check-in’ leaning on the front desk with my eyes closed. And then rather than smiling and chatting to the midwife who I knew from our recent classes, someone I respected as a senior colleague and someone I was so reassured to see, I dropped to my hands and knees and simply screamed.
As far as I was concerned, my body was being forced into an experience I just wasn’t quite ready for. I’d only read two-thirds of my ‘active birth’ labour guide, the baby car seat was not installed, and I had expected a few days of pre-labour to give me some time to get organised. I had been at a wedding (not mine!) just three hours prior. And here I was practically mooing on the floor wishing it all to be over.
But our midwife quietly organised some things, and then as the labour continued, she sat, smiled, and gently reassured.
While I felt out of control, my head spinning with the burden of too much knowledge, she was our peace-keeper. She protected the room; no one else came in or out. She protected my mind; no doubts or fear were allowed to set in, and she protected my baby; her role was to keep us both safe. And she sat.
One of the things I learnt in my training, that I have seen to have a great effect in practice, is the power of sitting. New students often fidget. It can be uncomfortable to do ‘nothing’. It can be uncomfortable to be in a room with a woman and her partner and not be chatting. It can feel lazy to not be busy touching, typing, checking all the time. At university, we were told of the home-birth midwives who take their knitting—if you feel like you need to do something with your hands, knit. Don’t be busy for the sake of it. And I’m thankful for three midwives, at my three births, who sat.
Sitting says ‘there’s no emergency, I don’t need to be rushing around’. Sitting says ‘what’s happening here is under control – I’ve seen this process before and I know how it turns out’. Sitting says ‘I’m here to guide, I’m here to reassure, but YOU have got this’.
Sitting brings peace.