Ask The Midwife - Q&A With Zoe
Next on our Ask The Midwife Q&A series is Zoe (Midwife in my Pocket). Zoe shares her experiences and top tips for postpartum care so read on for her incredible story and insights.
How did you get into the profession of midwifery and what are your biggest influences?
I was fresh out of high school when I needed to make the big decision of "what do I want to be when I grow up?". Midwifery wasn't always the obvious choice for me, but I knew I wanted a career that is rewarding and made a difference, so I became a nurse! After three years of study, I entered the nursing workforce and still found myself "wanting". It was from this point, I decided to explore midwifery. I watched a woman give birth, and when I say this experience changed my life, I'm not being dramatic! I became addicted to being a part of such a special, intimate moment! I loved being able to help women become mothers, and became obsessed with the female body and the wonder of it all. So from that moment on, I threw myself head first into the crazy world of midwifery, and I've never looked back. My biggest influence with this career has first and foremost always been my family. I constantly think of how I would like my mother, sister, aunties to be treated if they were having babies, and I make that the ethos of my practice.
What's the best part of your job?
For some midwives, the birth is the highlight of their career. I beg to differ. Don't get me wrong, it's truly bloody special, but to me, there's nothing more amazing than watching a woman become a mother for the first time, or seeing her face light up when her baby is placed on her chest and she realises "I just did that!". I love being able to help women navigate motherhood and grow to understand how to care for themselves and their baby in the postpartum period.
What are some of the most common questions your patients ask?
ALL THE QUESTIONS! Motherhood is such a full on time, that can be really overwhelming and scary. No question is ever off limits for me, and I understand that in order to learn, questions must be asked! Particularly when birth and the postpartum is something that is still considered to be "taboo". I try to guide parents in the best way I know how, hence why my Instagram exists!
What is the best way to utilise a midwife and what are some things women miss out on asking for help with?
Asking any question that pops into your mind is the best way to make the most out of the midwifery help available. I always encourage women to bring a notepad with them to hospital so they can jot down all those 3am questions, because those are always the ones that you find yourself Googling and then regretting because Google is SO DRAMATIC when it comes to the big questions like: "why are my boobs hard on day 3" or "why is my baby FEEDING EVERY HOUR". So save yourself the stress of a Wikipedia search result and ask the professionals as much as you can!
Don't be afraid to call the numbers they provide you on discharge for advice! We are here to help, and you only get us for a short period of time, so ask as much as you need to so you can feel empowered and confident!
What are the common misconceptions about what midwives do, if any?
Midwives are all round pretty legendary. But unfortunately, we are often assumed to be "glorified baby sitters" when that simply isn't the case. I've had friends at parties say to me; "oh you're a midwife, so does that mean you just cuddle babies all day?", I mean yeah, I cuddle babies from time to time, but there is so much more to my job than holding babies, and breastfeeding and all those cute things. I'm responsible for the LIVES of mums and bubs. I make sure the both of you get home safely and healthily. It's a big responsibility that extends far beyond making sure a baby is well cuddled for the evening!
What are your top tips for postpartum and perineal care?
I am constantly telling people to TAKE PHOTOS OF THEIR VAGINAS. When you leave hospital, your vagina will be in a normal state (unless someone has said otherwise). Photos allow you to quickly detect any deviations from normal and ensure early intervention is established, rather than waiting and having the problem cascade into something far worse! Being aware of signs of infection is important, and keeping yourself comfortable with Noonie Padsicles (bloody genius) and keeping the area clean will work wonders to ensuring you heal without a fuss!
What can people do to support women postpartum?
Just simply being there for the MOTHER can go a long way. Mothers often get ignored because "OH MY GOD LOOK AT THAT CUTE BABY!". It's easy for them to feel ignored or unappreciated when their friends and family come into their house and make a huge fuss over the baby, but not them. So by simply checking in on the mother and giving her the time she needs to feel valued and appreciated can work wonders for her postpartum experience, and make her feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy! Offering to do shitty jobs that no mother wants to do like laundry, cleaning, dishwashing, folding can really make a difference, and you're more likely to be invited over!
Any wise words of advice for our expecting mamas?
You've got this! You know so much more than you give yourself credit for, and you already are the most amazing mother. Babies can't remember anything, and the beauty of this is that they will never remember your mistakes! So don't sweat the small stuff, and be kind to yourself! You're both learning on the job! The only thing your baby will remember is LOVE. You've got this mumma!