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Delivering the goods
by Asa Butcher
Issue 6
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Lea, our midwife
Asa Butcher
6th July, 2005
Last month Thanos was taken by surprise at my review of a board game. Well this month I felt a profession deserved an iKritic, so midwifery goes under the microscope. Over the course of a week staying in hospital with my wife, I met a number of different midwifes and was thoroughly impressed with each – most even spoke English.

Naturally, they all had their own style, personality and good-humour, but what struck me was how much patience they have. I guess dealing with hormonally charged, whinging, worrying, emotional fathers would teach you that, but they were equally as good with the mothers and babies.

It is their job to be helpful, but we all know that just because it is your job does not mean that you always do it with a smile and desire to please. They are able to tell a parent that their newborn baby is the beautiful in the world while visitors scream and recoil in horror. They can gently massage the newborn parents’ egos with compliments about their child or adeptness at changing a nappy.

Their skills with a baby are unbridled. They handle a baby as a Harlem Globetrotter handles a basketball. At one point, I was expecting one midwife to bounce the little babe and shoot a three-pointer into the cot. When they wrap a blanket or change a nappy their hands are a blur and following two hours of trying to put the baby to sleep they march in perform some ancient pressure point trick that triggers sleep instantaneously.

All the time the father is doing his fair share of the caring the midwife loves you and will praise you. However, don’t forget a breath mint or three after wetting the babies head, since fathers smelling of alcohol is strangely frowned upon in a hospital ward. When we initially arrived in our family room, the midwife offered to take us on a tour. Just as we were about to walk out, I asked, “Shall we leave the baby here alone?” I wiped my brow thinking that was one of their early tests of good parents.

The midwife was always a button away, which provided a sense of security and allowed you to build your confidence handling the baby – it seems babies chill out in the hands of a confident person. One complaint I do have about midwives is that some cannot take a photograph, but I guess that their job description does not require knowledge of aperture settings.

One final thing: Don’t forget to support her neck!

Thanks again to all the staff at Kätilöopisto Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.

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