Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Case for Midwives at Birth and Death

Episode Four of Call the Midwife (see reviews of the other episodes below) was among the saddest yet, with a mother dying of eclampsia, not knowing her headaches were a classic sign of the affliction. Eclampsia remains one of the most confounding mysteries in childbirth. No one really knows why it occurs or how to prevent it. But the only way to end it is through delivering the baby before the mother’s life is threatened.  Unfortunately in this case, the baby was delivered and the mom still died. The midwife who first met the mother – but never had a chance to care for her – sat by her bedside as the woman lay dying, a reminder that historically, midwives ushered in new life and ushered it out as well. They typically cared for the ill and dying – not just pregnant women.  There are “midwives of death” – hospice workers and others  who help people pass peacefully at home. I think we need more midwives at both ends of the spectrum of life.