How many is too many?

My shifts are long, 12 hours (well 11.5 to be precise as we don’t get paid for half of our lunch break and that’s if we even get a lunch break I mean who has lunch 5pm?) but it does mean that I work 3 shifts a week and still have 4 days off a to spend being the perfect yummy mummy (I’m joking, for the record I bloody hate that term, its degrading it basically means if you’re remotely good-looking you’re classified as yummy and if you haven’t been blessed in the looks department you’re what, you’re just doing a great job?).

Anyway I was looking after this really sweet young woman the other night having her first baby and she had fantastic support in labour. Her Mum was there, her boyfriend, her sister, her niece, her sister’s best mate ,her granny, I think a pizza delivery boy was there at one point, I mean the list was endless I lost count of the constant flow of people in and out of the room offering their ‘support’. I say this term loosely as I’m not wholly convinced that they were all there in the girls best interest. The hospital policy states that you are only allowed 2 birthing partners in the room at any time, mainly due to security reasons plus the rooms aren’t huge and it makes safety an issue if there was an emergency situation (at a home birth you can have as many people as you like).

So this one girl who I have no idea whether she was a cousin, sister or friend of the woman in labour instinctively grabbed a sick bowl and started fanning the woman’s face. Now I’m not the kind of midwife who just sits in the corner of the room and jots things down in the notes whilst the birth partner does all the support. I will massage backs, mop brows, clear up vomit, wipe away poo (more on that subject in a later post) and I can usually tell if a woman needs fanning and looks too hot. But this friend was amazing, she then took to massaging the woman’s sacrum I mean really doing a fab job almost a professional standard, like she knew exactly where to press and reassure her friend through every contraction.

Well there I was not really needed, it felt shit to be honest sob sob oh I do love to feel like the one person who can help the woman (after all that’s why I love my job) but I did sort of feel like a loose end. So I sat back and observed this amazing birth partner. Eventually the other members of her family got bored as there was no sign of baby and went to Nandos to fill up on hormone and protein enhanced peri peri chicken and soggy chips. But this girl just kept on going, I did offer to take over with the massaging but nope she was not giving up working her thumbs to the nub and the labouring woman was certainly benefitting from all of this.

Anyway the baby was born, a gorgeous 8lb baby boy and all was fine. My inquisitive side of got the better of me and I had to ask the birth partner ‘So where do you learn how to do that, you must be a doula or had at least 10 babies to be that good.’ The girl just smiled and a burst of deep loud hearty laughter erupted around the room ‘From One Born Every Minute you know on the telly, I bloody love that show watch it every week!’ Of course the Bafta awarded Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary, where else?! I honestly think that show is great, not only does it really portray a maternity ward, it shows you pretty much all scenarios you could be faced with when having a baby (NCT take note). I congratulated and thanked the girl on her wonderful techniques and banged on about how she should train to be a midwife oh how we need people like her at all births, you were really amazing for your friend bla bla bla and then the laughter came again,

‘No way babe, you wouldn’t catch me seeing lady bits every day, women screaming in pain, I’ve got a job anyway.’

‘So what do you do?’ I asked,

I’m a beautician, mainly specialise in bikini waxing’.

Before my brain had a chance to register her answer (I blame the hour and lack of break) she was gone, thrusting her business card in my hands on her way out

‘Let me know if you ever need a trim down there’ she said nodding at my nether regions. Shit did she know I was soooo over due my last wax that my husband had given up on the promised Valentines/birthday/Christmas treat? Who knows, but what I do know is that she was an amazing birth partner. The point of the story is readers – ‘its quality, not quantity’, choosing the right person/people to have in the room can make the difference between reliving the pain in your back or being a pain in the neck. And if there’s a free bikini wax at the end of it for the midwife, then everyone comes away satisfied.