I love looking at the expressions on a mum and dads face when they see their baby for the first time on ultrasound scan. It is a precious moment when, in the majority of cases, they look at the scan and then each other, and say something like ‘that’s our baby’.
Every time I book a women for her maternity care and have the privilege of seeing her baby wiggle and the heart beat for the first time, I am reminded of the huge privilege and responsibility I have of travelling through this 9 month journey with a mum, her baby, and the family as a whole. From the 16 week antenatal appointment when we hear the heartbeat for the first time, to the 20 week appointment when we discuss how different the baby looked compared to the booking scan, to the labour and delivery of the baby, and into the early postnatal period, I marvel in a woman’s ability to nurture this new life from conception.
I know I have painted the perfect scenario, but that this isn’t always the way it goes.
There are so many variables throughout a pregnancy and quite often situations and outcomes occur that no one has planned for. Even the GP letter in the early stages of pregnancy usually states something like ‘planned pregnancy’, ‘unplanned pregnancy but happy’ or ‘unplanned pregnancy and taking time to come to terms with the news’. And these unplanned situations can continue right through a pregnancy. For example getting news of expecting triplets, developing gestational diabetes, developing preeclampsia, needing a Caesarean section for a breech presentation, needing a Caesarean section for an abnormal CTG, a baby coming out flat and needing resuscitated, or in the saddest of times, a baby that does not live.
I have been with women in the happiest of times, in the saddest of times, and everything in between. I smile with women when their dream is being fulfilled, and I cry with women when their dreams feel like they have been shattered.
However, one thing that is not a variable is that a baby, a new life, has been conceived, whether planned or unplanned, and whether in the happiest or saddest of circumstances. A baby does not choose to be conceived, it does not choose to have an abnormality, or a life limiting condition, and it does not choose how long it lives for when it is born. However I firmly believe that it is still a life, and a life that deserves to be looked after and cared for for the length of time it has a heart beat and is a person.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council code for nurses and midwives states that we must prioritise people by treating them as individuals and upholding their dignity, treating them with kindness, respect, and compassion. I fully believe a women deserves this level of care, but I also fully believe that the unborn baby does too, whether wanted or not.
I am a midwife, and to me, both lives matter.