A discordant beeping jolts me out of sleep. I roll over and grope for my phone. It is 6.30. Yawning, I look at the text. It is my postnatal client. Awake feeding baby, she has the opportunity to ask me to come a little earlier – her husband is away and and she’s feeling overwhelmed.
She mentions that sore nipple again. I make a mental note to ask her about it and suggest she comes to the breastfeeding support group on Monday.
Two hours later, I am stacking her dishwasher whilst she showers; her baby snoozing in the moses basket. By the time I leave, she’s had lunch and we’ve looked at an online leaflet about ‘blebs’. She thinks that’s what’s causing her pain and has resolved to try the self help measures and go to see the Breastfeeding Counsellor.
I drive across town and park in the hospital multi-storey. The MSLC meeting is in full swing. The talk is of short staffing and we discuss how we can help the midwives spend more time with the women.
I pop to the ward to see my last birth client. Her baby is three days old. We hug and I ask her how feeding is going. Her milk is coming in. I give her a few tips, refill her water bottle and fetch her some food. I listen as she talks about the birth again. She is generally happy, but wonders why the ventouse was needed. I suggest the Birth Afterthoughts service. We arrange for me to go to see her once she’s home, hopefully tomorrow.
On the way home, my phone rings three times and I pull over to take each call. The first is a woman looking for a birth doula. She is hoping for a VBAC. She does not have to tell me how frightened she is, I can hear it in her voice. I invite her to our local birth support mothers’ group and suggest she speak to a Supervisor of Midwives.
The next call is from a midwife asking about our Access Fund. A young mother has no one to accompany her in labour. We discuss finding her free doula support.
Next, my birth client. I thought I would be off call for a week or two, but it looks like it is not meant to be. At 36 weeks, her waters have broken. She tells me what the midwife said and how she is feeling and I reassure her I am free as my last client has birthed.
Seven hours later, I am sitting on the floor of a toilet on Delivery Suite, rubbing her feet as the contractions begin to tip her over into established labour. The telemetry monitor is working well, for which I offer up a prayer of thanks. It means she can move about and find her comfy positions, which right now, is sitting backwards on the toilet, her head resting on a pillow on top of the cistern between contractions. Her partner is abroad. No-one expected this baby to come so early. So it’s just me and her. We dance and sweat and sing our way through until her baby swims into the midwife’s waiting hands.