Until I had my babe and experienced the birth process for myself I never gave midwives much thought. I have now come to realise that being a midwife is one of the most selfless, special, terrifying, rewarding, magical jobs in the whole world. They are the ones who guide us, they are the ones who reassure us, they are the ones we put our trust into. They are in the frontline, they are the first on scene and responsible for delivering the most precious thing in the world, a baby! It's a delicate, enormous and amazing responsibility and in my eyes they are the warriors of the world, the soldiers for humanity, the advocates for life! It is a true gift to be able to deal with a mother in labour and I was lucky enough to have the most patient, kind, fierce and stedfast midwife ever to be (might be a bit bias), Tracey Browne is a midwife and mother to four children. She is passionate about assisting couples to feel empowered with knowledge and understanding to achieve a positive birth experience, however it may unfold. Tracey is also a Calmbirth Practitioner and you can find out more information about this wonderful course by clicking here!
How long have you been a midwife for?
I graduated in 2010 so including my time as a student midwife I’ve been attending births for 8 years.
When you tell someone you are midwife what is their initial response?
Most people are very intrigued and want to know more! Another common response is they say they could never do that as they have a misconception that birth is about what they see on TV and I love taking the opportunity to explain how beautiful birth can be. This is also a time where I get to hear LOTS of birth stories, and it reaffirms my belief that how a mother feels about her experience and remembers every little detail even many years later really does matter!
What is something that is misunderstood about midwives?
What you see when you watch one born every minute (the UK series). We do not sit around drinking cups of tea and eating bikkies all day and night. It would be lovely if we did but the reality is that if we are seen sitting at the desk it is often because we are catching up on our mountain of paperwork! Also, we really do care so much about the women we care for. We never really ‘switch off’ after a shift as being a midwife becomes our life and if we have to leave before a woman has birthed we can not wait to find out how she went!
Do you remember the first birth you ever witnessed & what were your thoughts?
The first birth I ever witnessed (other than my own!) was a home waterbirth and I was in absolute awe. I clearly remember watching the baby’s head emerge in the water and as we waited for the next contraction thinking what an absolute privilege it was to be witnessing such a miracle. I knew right then and there I was on the right pathway.
What drives you to keep doing what you are doing?
There are so many reasons...The families I meet would have to be number one. Plus there is nothing more amazing than the oxytocin high you get from a birth. It definitely is addictive whether we are the one giving birth or supporting a mum to do so. The look on the parents face as they meet their baby for the first time is priceless. I love reminding them many minutes after the birth to check to see if they have a boy or girl as often they have forgot to check! It’s so rewarding supporting a mum through the challenges of labour and the moment of realising she’ did' it despite the sense of doubt through the stages of transition. I also love my role as a childbirth educator where I see mums and dads during their pregnancy transform from feeling nervous and uncertain to informed and confident and excited for labour. This change in attitude makes such a positive difference to the birthing experience.
How do you keep a mother positive when she may be ready to give up during labour?
Tell her how amazing she is and how close she is to holding that beautiful baby in her arms.
What is the best advice you could give to a first time mum to be if she is feeling anxious about birth?
Acknowledge those fears so you can work through them prior to birth, read books and listen to positive birth stories, find a supportive birthing community through your friends or come along to a Positive Birth Movement Sunshine Coast meet up. Knowledge really is power - invest in a compressive birth education course such as Calmbirth that you and your partner attend together where you will not only learn about birth, but also ways to relax and connect that can have such a positive influence on your pregnancy, birth and transition to parenthood. Be aware of all your options when it comes to birth and find supportive care providers who will listen to you and support you. Getting an opportunity to develop trust by having continuity of care can make a massive difference too.
In your experience does having birthing partners or family in the room help or hinder the labour process?
Yes they can be helpful to the birth process, BUT only if they are well prepared. A dad who has no idea what to do and is panicking in the corner of the room is not going to help mum stay calm and allow the hormones that allow birth to progress to flow. Also make sure your supporters are aware of what happens during birth and are not going to be bringing any negativity from unresolved trauma or misguided beliefs into the room as this can definitely influence the energy in the room.
What is the funniest moment you have experienced as a midwife?
Staying back for a birth and walking out of the hospital drenched from head to toe in every body fluid imaginable but feeling on top of the world as I just caught a baby!
Do you have a favourite memory from your career as a midwife?
The privilege of being able to be the midwife on duty to support my Calmbirth mum Lisa welcome her beautiful boy into the world. I remember all births but it is extra special when I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the family beforehand.
Three words to describe midwifery…
Love, rewarding, fulfilling.
One word to describe birth…
Thank you Tracey for taking the time to be so honest and answer our questions. We also thank you for being such a special person and it is so reassuring as a mother to know that as a midwife you are so passionate and driven to make the experience for the families a positive and unforgettable experience.
Again if you would like to find out more about Tracey and Calm birth you can find the information by clicking here!