By Dorinda Dove, CNM
After 27 years here, when I reflect on the many facets of my career, the thing that means the most to me is my interactions with clients. As midwives, we strive to provide the best care possible to our clients, both physically and emotionally, but we sometimes don’t always realize just how important that emotional connection can be from our client’s perspective. Recently a couple interactions reminded me of this, and how the resultant trust our clients place in us can be critical.
One of our birth center Moms told me recently how much our conversations had meant to her when she was pregnant, new to the area from another state, and coming from a model of care with her previous pregnancies where her care was provided by a single midwife. When she came to us, it was extremely difficult to discover how many of us there were and how different that felt to her and she struggled over many months. It was a long process for her to reach the point where she felt OK with being here and that feeling only came after multiple conversations, some of which happened outside of prenatal visits. I had a conversation with her recently about an unrelated matter, almost a year after she had her baby, and she thanked me and told me how important our conversations had been when she was having such a hard transition and felt lost and how grateful she was for being able to go on to have a good birth experience with us.
Another example involves a long term client who, with her 4th child, suffered from extreme perinatal depression and with whom I continue to be in close touch. In the client’s words, describing a phone call several years ago to her midwife: “I had not told a soul about my suicidal thoughts and self-harm behavior. [She] took the time to convince me to check myself into the hospital. It was more than that. I trusted her. I trusted her enough to tell her how bad I was doing. I was not planning to. I just had what I thought was a simple question with a yes or no answer, “Has TBC ever lost a client to suicide?” It never occurred to me that [she] would ask me why. I trusted her enough to tell her the truth. And I trusted her enough to tell her the real reason why I was not going. I was absolutely terrified of losing control of my life. Where would I sleep? What would I eat? What would I wear? How would I spend my days?” She ended up going and told us later that her conversation with her midwife had saved her life.
On a different note, this same person related how, many years ago, when she was new to The Birth Center, she came for her 2nd prenatal visit and was getting ready to give her name, appointment time, and insurance information (which she had done every single time at a previous practice) when Florence greeted her by name and chatted like they were friends- she said she was absolutely amazed!
These examples reinforce how we can never underestimate the importance of human interaction, an interaction that may be simple or complex, but that always has the potential to make a positive difference in both of our lives.