As labor extends into the third day, you see all of the ways that midwives support a woman in the home environment, including helping to keep her fed, hydrated, rested, and coping emotionally. She walks, squats, rests, and shares her thoughts and feelings through her slow but steady progress.Not only are long labors exhausting for the mother, but they can also affect the baby. This baby shows us he is tired by releasing some of his meconium (first bowel movement) into the amniotic fluid in the latter part of the labor. The midwives are prepared to deep suction his airways after the birth of his head but before the birth of his body so that he doesn’t inhale the meconium into his lungs. They also treat him homeopathically for this. If he had needed more assistance, he would have received some oxygen as well.Meconium stained fluid is one of numerous more common birth complications that midwives are trained to respond to. Others for the baby include the cord being around the baby’s neck or body, the baby needing assistance with its first breath, or fluid or mucous in the airways. For the mother, they include needing assistance with the delivery of the placenta, excess bleeding, or injury to the vagina or perineum.For the vast majority of mothers and babies, birth, whether long or short, a first baby or fourth, is both normal and uneventful. Midwives are facilitators of the process, helping to support, reassure, and safeguard the family and respond swiftly and skillfully if problems arise. In a culture where normalcy in birth is sometimes forgotten, and where older mothers or longer labors are intervened with and treated as high risk, midwives hold the space for the normal to work itself out. As always, it is the fundamental health and positive attitude of this beautiful mother and baby that determine the ultimate outcome.
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