What is the language of midwifery when our faces are masked, unable to speak softly, able to only communicate with our eyes? What is the language of midwifery with social distancing, without embracing colleagues and new parents?
It is your colleague calmly unwrapping the delivery pack, folding down a resuscitaire and warming up towels. It is catching their eye across a room after birth, watery as you gaze upon new parents. The language of midwifery is your second midwife, who you learn from and who learns from you, your extra pair of hands when things are inevitably the wrong side of the room, someone who remembers to make a note of the time of birth or kindly checks the placenta.
It is the blanket placed over you on a cold night shift at 3am and the cup of tea popped on a desk without asking. It is “do you want anything from the canteen?”, “would you like me to do your paperwork?”, “thanks for all your support today.” The language of midwifery is the unfaltering kindness, selflessness and generosity. It is putting everyone else’s needs before your own and ensuring we are doing all we can do get through a shift as a team.
It is the non-verbal communication as things deviate from the norm, a carefully timed nod of acknowledgement during a heart rate deceleration, drawing up anaesthetic or getting equipment at the ready. The language of midwifery is trust in one another. It is trust in the physiological processes of birth, it is trust in your team, and it is trust in your own abilities.
It is the conversations that happen at 5 am, sharing stories that otherwise would only come out after a few drinks. It is your work family, best friends and confidants. The language of midwifery is the formation of firm friendships, that extend far beyond a delivery room.
It is shift work solidarity, a “good morning!” at 7PM, bleary eyed handovers and chocolates for lunch. It is a Christmas M&S spread, New Year nosecco and forgotten bank holiday pub lunches. The language of midwifery is pulling together whenever and wherever we are needed, because babies never take a day off.