I love books that keep me thinking well after I am finished with them. I guess most people do. I recently was given a copy of a memoir by Carol Leonard, Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart: A Midwife's Saga. It is the story of a midwife from rural New Hampshire who got her start birthing babies in the '70's and '80's, and includes many birth stories, along with her own life's trials and tragedies. For someone working as close to birth as I am this was, indeed, a very powerful read.
After finishing this book I came to work last night with a renewed sense of trust in birth and the body. For the most part the nurses on my labor and delivery unit share my feelings of birth as a natural part of life, one that works best if we don't get in the way. Occasionally I find that we all run through times of doubt in the process, often after a series of complications, inductions, labor interventions, or cesearean sections. We start to forget that birth works, if you let it.
My patient last night was a young woman having her first child. She labored easily and efficiently, with love and support from her family. As I went about my work I watched her follow her body as it guided her through the dance of labor and birth. I remembered the words of Carol Leonard and felt an overall sense of reassurance, even when slight complications arose. Just trust the process, birth works. I reminded myself and the midwife on call that this patient had all she needed to bring her baby into the world. I also reminded the patient of this, as she had planned for a medicated birth, and she decided in the end to birth naturally. She was a proud, strong mama as her baby came into her arms, and I am happy we did not get in her way.