Its meeting her for the first time and not having any preconceived ideas about what she should feel, what she should want or what her needs are.
Its being quiet and listening, for as long as she needs, to allow her to speak and open up to her innermost fears, hopes and dreams that she is able to share with you.
Its not interrupting part way through her speaking because you already think you know what she’s going to say based on other women.
Its addressing any problems that may arise in pregnancy, any concerns she may have, taking into account what matters to her as an individual.
Its not leading her, its travelling alongside her in partnership throughout her journey, helping her to make the decisions that are right for her and supporting her to do so. But not telling her what they should be.
Its helping her to understand her #birthrights and explore which options are the right ones for her. Its helping to support her so that decisions are based on true choice, not from a place of fear or uncertainty.
Its being available to support her, even if its not needed, its just letting her know that if and when it is she is able to reach out.
Its ensuring she has the opportunity to make an informed choice.
It not judging her if her decisions are different to the ones you would choose.
Its not labelling her, not at all.
Its ensuring she is respected and that her voice is listened to.
Its supporting her during labour and birth in a way that leaves her feeling like the most important person in the world in those moments.
Its knowing when to be fully present and visible to her and when to melt into the background. Its hand holding, back massaging, a reassuring smile, some gentle encouragement, or simply just sitting back and quietly making notes without disturbing when that is what she needs.
It’s supporting her to have a #positivebirth without any preconceived notions about what that means for her.
Its not rushing in and doing things unless necessary after the birth, its letting the new family get to know eachother.
It’s listening to her worries and concerns postnatally and ensuring they are acted upon.
Its being someone she can go to during the postnatal period who can help to navigate all the differing advice and information offered by friends, family and healthcare professionals.
Its unpicking any problems and finding solutions that work or her and her family.
Again, its not judging her for making any decisions that would be different to you, whether that’s feeding choices, sleeping arrangements, parenting choices or any other decision she chooses to make.
A fellow midwife I trained with Louise summed this up so perfectly, its about woman centred care, not women centred care, because one is generalising women as the same, whereas the other is about the individual woman. After all midwife mean with woman, not with women!!
I’m working my way to achieving all of the above but I still have so much to learn to get there, as a midwife we are learning every day. But what seems apparent is that continuity of carer allows a lot more opportunity to be with woman in all of the ways above.