(Bonus British Perspective) `Call the Midwife` Recaps: Season 3: Episode 8

In addition to the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing guest blogging for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife — airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18 — we are thrilled to have a bonus blogger. Rachel Sykes, who did a practicum at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing in the summer 0f 2013, is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. She’s watched the show on the BBC and will provide a unique UK-perspective. She currently practices in a busy maternity unit in the Northwest of England. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.

Call the Midwife Episode 8

By Rachel Sykes

Rachel Sykes Headshot

It’s always sad to see the end of this popular series. I really love the great acting, story lines and adventures of the Nonnatus midwives. I will miss curling up on the sofa on a Sunday night, getting lost in the nostalgia and romance of Call the Midwife. This final week is a mixture of drama, sadness, hope and new beginnings. Jenny (Jessica Raine) is doubtful of her future as a midwife and rethinks what she is truly passionate about. I have been here many times. I spent my twenties doing various things but always had midwifery in the forefront of my mind. After much soul searching, a fashion degree, some overseas travel and various interesting jobs later, I began my midwifery training at age 29. It takes some people time to realise what they really want to do with their lives; some know from an early age and some never truly know. It is helpful to remember that life is not a race but an interesting journey with endless corridors, of which we have freedom to choose. It is difficult to know which road to take but over the years I have learned to listen to my gut instinct and it has never let me down.

This episode demonstrates life’s continuous changeability. Jenny meets her husband to be and goes on to a new way of caring. Chummy cares for her dying mother who moves from this world to a new one and Dr Turner and his wife Shelagh welcome a new baby into their family. Jenny decides to move into palliative care of the dying, a career which no doubt takes a certain type of person. This is a stark contrast to working as a midwife, but in essence, the same kind of compassion and sensitivity is required. Midwives rarely deal with death, but are not completely immune. When it happens, it does shake staff to the core and the person sadly involved is always remembered.

It is so funny to see how men are ‘banned’ from being with their partners whilst giving birth during the 1950s. This would be unheard of nowadays and it shows how things have changed dramatically. I sometimes feel a bit sorry for the birth partners (particularly the men) as they often say they feel helpless whilst their ladies are in labour. It is quite normal for a father to be quivering in the corner not knowing what to do with himself or turning a whitish, green colour when the baby finally makes an appearance (obviously being British we ask them if they would like a cup of tea). One of the nicest things about my job is that you get to see a lot of men cry! It is such a touching moment when their baby comes into the world and I have seen the biggest and toughest of men weep buckets! Being at the birth of a new life is wonderful, it never ‘gets old’ and I hope I will never become bláze or complacent as my career progresses. I am already looking forward to the 2015 series, until then I will have to make do with all the excitement and challenges of midwifery in the real world!

Rachel Sykes is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

Missed our analysis of the Previous Season’s Episodes? Read them here.

Missed an episode? Watch full episodes for a limited time on NPT’s “Watch Now” Video Portal here.

`Call the Midwife` Recaps: Season 3: Episode 8: Beginnings and Goodbyes

For the third season in-a-row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18. Check in here every Monday morning for the next eight weeks for historical and contemporary context on the show, and some fun discussion. Plus, this year we’ll have the occasional bonus blog from across the pond to get the British perspective. So be sure to check the blog TWICE on Mondays. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.

Call the Midwife Episode 8

By Margaret Buxton MSN CNM

Margaret BuxtonThe last episode was a “good death” as we were told. It was full of love and remembrance, knowledge, hellos, and good-byes. I couldn’t help but think of the recent celebration of Mother’s Day and the themes of the mother-child relationships in this episode. The bond of mother and child is more powerful than most, and how it comes to be or what shapes it has ripples in our lives forever. The arc between the terrible ending Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) experiences with her mother and that of Chummy (Miranda Hart) with the mother at the end of her life reminded us of the power of forgiveness and the sweetness of redemption. Both of these daughters were able to find peace in “getting it right” at the end of life. Sheila’s adoption experienced as “birth” was a touching reminder that Mothers and children can be united in many different ways.

I wrote in a previous season about the connection between midwifery and hospice care. It is as if the beginning and the end are so far apart that they come full circle to touch each other. In both settings, the presence that is created by the midwife, nurse, and/or families is what creates the beautiful space to let life take its first breath or breathe its last. The “space” is not only physical but can be an emotional and spiritual one: a reverent silence, a washcloth at just the right moment, a soothing sound of comfort, or a gentle hand for help. These environments are not easily created in the busy healthcare settings we are familiar with in the US, but they are still something that I aspire to every time I am with a laboring mother and will be inspired to create when I am called to be with someone at the end of their life. Jenny’s desire to pursue hospice nursing seemed a perfect fit for her, but it was sad to say good-bye to this beloved character and this amazing season.

I have so loved this show and am thankful to the creators and the artists who brought it alive. Thank you Call the Midwife!

Margaret Buxton, MSN CNM, is a Certified Nurse-Midwife, Instructor of Nursing, Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Clinical Practice Director, West End Women’s Health Center.

Missed our analysis of the Previous Season’s Episodes? Read them here.

Missed an episode? Watch full episodes for a limited time on NPT’s “Watch Now” Video Portal here.

Call the Midwife Episode 8

(Bonus British Perspective) `Call the Midwife` Recaps: Season 3: Episode 7

In addition to the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing guest blogging for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife — airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18 — we are thrilled to have a bonus blogger. Rachel Sykes, who did a practicum at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing in the summer 0f 2013, is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. She’s watched the show on the BBC and will provide a unique UK-perspective. She currently practices in a busy maternity unit in the Northwest of England. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.

Call the MIdwife, Season 3, Episode 7

By Rachel Sykes 

Rachel Sykes HeadshotThe opening to this episode sees Pamela Saint’s baby being born ‘in the caul.’ On rare occasions, the membranes do not rupture prior to birth and the baby ventures into the world in the bag of amniotic fluid. There is an old wives tale that a baby which is born in the membranes is good luck and was believed to protect the child from drowning. It was often sold at auction to nervous sailors who perceived it as a welcome shield from the unforgiving ocean. This probably would not translate well to modern times, and may seem a little far-fetched. ‘I would like to buy some caul please, as I am going on a Caribbean cruise next week.’ You could only imagine the look you would receive!

Pamela (Sophie Rundle) captures our attention this week with her sudden onset of extreme paranoia shortly after the birth of her baby. Puerperal psychosis is a rare, but a serious psychiatric condition which is rapid in onset, usually within the first 14 days postpartum. You may be surprised to learn that in the late 1990s, suicide was the overall leading cause of maternal death in the UK. This thankfully declined in the years to follow and may be viewed as a positive reflection of our ability to identify women at risk of psychiatric illness and to provide them with the care and support they need.

Read the rest of (Bonus British Perspective) `Call the Midwife` Recaps: Season 3: Episode 7

‘Call the Midwife` Recaps: Season 3: Episode 7: Rare Scenarios

For the third season in-a-row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18. Check in here every Monday morning for the next eight weeks for historical and contemporary context on the show, and some fun discussion. Plus, this year we’ll have the occasional bonus blog from across the pond to get the British perspective. So be sure to check the blog TWICE on Mondays. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.

Call the Midwife Season 2 episode 7

By Michelle Collins PhD, CNM

Michelle Collins

Picture a group of screenwriters sitting around a table and one says “for this episode, let’s include some really RARE things that happen in childbirth…” Guessing this had to have been the case with this week’s episode because three rare events that occur in relation to childbirth were featured. The first was referred to as a “mermaid’s birth” – in which the baby was born with the amniotic sac intact, (“en caul” as it is commonly known). Legend has it that carrying a piece of the amniotic sac, or caul, is a sort of good luck charm, and a protection to the carrier against drowning. For this reason, pieces of the caul were once highly sought by sailors, as we saw the woman in the show save hers for her husband who worked on the river. Babies born en caul are rumored to have special powers of perception bestowed upon them. Estimates vary, but being born en caul occurs only about one in every 1,000 births. Check out this blog with a very cool video of en caul birth:

The second rare situation featured was that of the prolapsed cord that Jenny Lee discovered on the laboring woman. The majority of the time when a woman’s “water breaks,” the presenting part of the baby (hopefully head) comes down snugly against the cervix. Occasionally, though, the baby’s umbilical cord falls down in front of the baby’s presenting part, and is referred to as prolapsed. The incidence of this is 1 in 1000 births. It is a true emergency, as pressure on the cord from the baby’s body decreases the blood flow, and hence oxygenation, to the baby, creating a life threatening situation for baby. When the prolapsed cord is discovered, the mother is positioned on her hands and knees with her head down low, and rear end up in the air. This position encourages the baby’s body to move to the top pf the mother’s uterus, and is an attempt to keep pressure off of the umbilical cord.

Read the rest of ‘Call the Midwife` Recaps: Season 3: Episode 7: Rare Scenarios

‘NPT Reports: Children’s Health Crisis` Focuses on Food | Premieres Online and On-Air May 22

We announced today the latest installment in our Children’s Health Crisis series, this one focusing on the connection between food and health, which premieres both online and on-air on May 22. We will also preview the documentary with a screening and lunchtime discussion at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle TN on May 20, with CHC host Kimberly Williams-Paisley in attendance and several notable Nashville nutritionists and advocates on the panel. There are still a few seats left at this event. Those wishing to attend should RSVP at Second Harvest Food Bank’s website or directly here: http://bit.ly/1jfKf2J.

Keep an eye on wnpt.org for information on the advance online preview on May 22.  Full press release below. Thanks!

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

NPT Explores the Relationship Between Children’s Health and Food in the Latest Installment of ‘Children’s Health Crisis.’

‘NPT Reports: Children’s Health Crisis: Food,’ hosted by Kimberly Williams Paisley, premieres May 22 online and on-air; advance screening and discussion to be held May 20 at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – May 9, 2014 – Nearly 16 million children in the United States have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. While the American Heart Association recommends high-school aged children eat 3 servingsof vegetables a day, in Tennessee only 13% achieve that goal. Additionally, nearly one in five adolescents skips breakfast, and one in three children is obese or overweight.

N:\Children's Health\PROMOTIONS\KWP shoot

Kimberly Williams-Paisley

In “Food,” the latest installment in its Emmy® Award-winning “NPT Reports: Children’s Health Crisis” series, hosted by Kimberly Williams-Paisley (“Nashville,” “Two and Half Men,” “Father of the Bride”) and premiering online and on-air on Thursday, May 22, Nashville Public Television (NPT) asks, “What is standing between us and a healthy relationship to food?” The documentary, produced by Will Pedigo, draws on doctors, nutritionists, policy makers, community advocates, parents and more to explore the roles of everything from breastfeeding to farming subsidies to food marketing to family dinners to discover how our relationship to food is established and maintained, and the impact that has on our health.

“NPT Reports: Children’s Health Crisis: Food” will premiere online on Thursday, May 22 at noon via the OVEE online engagement web viewer, and at 8:00 p.m. that same evening on-air at NPT-Channel 8. Those wishing to attend the advance online screening should visit wnpt.org or the direct link of https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/4oora the day of the screening.

The documentary will be previewed on Tuesday, March 20 with a special lunchtime screening and discussion at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Paisley will be among the guest speakers, along with Jaynee Day, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, and Courtney Grimes Cuden, a psychotherapist and director of programs and outreach for Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee, both of whom both appear in the documentary; Beth Curley, president and CEO of NPT, Megan Morton, executive director, Community Food Advocates; and Dianne Killebrew, M.Ed. R.D., L.D.N. educational coordinator, Vanderbilt. Jennifer Justus, notable food writer and advocate, will moderate the discussion.

The event will take place on Tuesday, May 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and include lunch catered by Second Harvest’s Culinary Arts Center. Second Harvest Food Bank is located at 331 Great Circle Road, Nashville, Tenn., 37228.

Members of the media wishing to attend the event should RSVP with Joe Pagetta at jpagetta@wnpt.org This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or (615) 259-9325 ext. 211.

Read the rest of ‘NPT Reports: Children’s Health Crisis` Focuses on Food | Premieres Online and On-Air May 22

‘Call the Midwife’ Recaps: Season 2: Episode 6: Don`t Let Misfortunes Find a Home

For the third season in-a-row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18. Check in here every Monday morning for the next eight weeks for historical and contemporary context on the show, and some fun discussion. Plus, this year we’ll have the occasional bonus blog from across the pond to get the British perspective. So be sure to check the blog TWICE on Mondays. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.

CTM_blog_06_09_35MB

By Margaret Buxton MSN CNM

Margaret BuxtonThis episode reminded me again that East London in the 1950s was a community of war survivors, and the aftermath of that would be felt for generations. The unique pairing of Nurse Mount (Emerald Fennell), a sometimes harsh, all-business midwife and nurse with the sensitive war veteran suffering physically from being a prisoner of a Japanese war camp brought into view a shared space: they both had experienced the horrors of being a prisoner of war and survived. The contrast was in their attitudes. The nurse was clearly holding her pain and suffering emotionally. The patient was suffering physically but had “let go” of his prisoner experience to enjoy life.

I am continually inspired by stories of survival and intrigued specifically with the stories that come out of situations like this veteran experienced. In reading other stories of World War II survivors of Japanese prisoner of war camps, I came across story after story of what kept these men (and sometimes women) alive. They all seemed to be able to stay “in the moment” of where they were – not looking back and not looking forward to rescue. They chose instead to live each day, fight to stay alive, and find hope in the present moment. The veteran’s words to Nurse Blount at the end of the show stayed with me:

“Don’t let your misfortunes find a home.”

Helping women through childbirth is my invitation to stay in the moment; I am daily inspired by the women we serve at Vanderbilt!

Margaret Buxton, MSN CNM, is a Certified Nurse-Midwife, Instructor of Nursing, Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Clinical Practice Director, West End Women’s Health Center.

Read our Bonus British Perspective of this episode by Rachel Sykes here.

Missed our analysis of the Previous Season’s Episodes? Read them here.

Missed an episode? Watch full episodes for a limited time on NPT’s “Watch Now” Video Portal here.

(Bonus British Perspective) Call the Midwife Recaps: Season 3: Episode 6

In addition to the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing guest blogging for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife — airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18 — we are thrilled to have a bonus blogger. Rachel Sykes, who did a practicum at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing in the summer 0f 2013, is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. She’s watched the show on the BBC and will provide a unique UK-perspective. She currently practices in a busy maternity unit in the Northwest of England.

SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.

Call the Midwife Episode 6

By Rachel Sykes

Rachel Sykes Headshot

Romance blossoms this week when Reverend Herewood (Jack Ashton) and Nurse Miller (Helen George) have their first “date.” With her heels as high as her expectations, Trixie soon comes crashing down to Earth as her day at the cricket soon turns into a day of cleaning up vomit and mending a broken down vehicle. Yes, he may well be good looking, but how is he going to salvage this one? After declaring she “needed time to get over it,” the Reverend and the nurse are again reunited at the baptism of baby James Doyle, whose breathing difficulties after birth makes them take stock of the situation and certainly puts matters into perspective. Nurse Miller soon realises that silly mishaps are forgivable and we see something deeper emerge between the two of them.

Peeved and disappointed, Nurse Mount (Emerald Fennell) is seconded to the district nursing round and finds herself caring for Maurice Glennan (Neal Barry), an ex- prisoner of war. Even today, there are district nurses who work for the National Health Service (NHS) and care for those who have recently been discharged from hospital, the elderly and the terminally ill. Like the Nonnatus nurses and midwives, they have their own caseload of patients along with a wealth of skills and knowledge. Maurice’s anxiety about returning to work is a particular worry for anyone with ill health and in need of income. Fortunately for him, the NHS was in full swing by the 1950s meaning he could be treated without the worry of cost. The NHS was introduced in 1948 and is financed entirely from taxation, therefore people are able to pay according to their means. One of its main principles was good healthcare for all people, regardless of income and this remains at the core of the NHS. As a UK native, I do appreciate living in a country where healthcare is free. Some may question the quality and choice of healthcare available but as I work within the NHS and witness it first hand, I do believe the service we provide is second to none and the NHS is still going strong to this day. We have an excellent workforce of nurses, doctors, midwives and other health professionals who ought to be really proud of what they do and are a true asset to the NHS.

Patsy is a truly exceptional nurse and goes beyond the call of duty for her patient, travelling to Liverpool to collect the pioneering medicine from the Hospital of Tropical Diseases – a trip she certainly didn’t have to do, but wanted to. It is true that some people show compassion in more subtle ways. Some may be more vocal or affectionate, others may use body language or actions. What counts is the message received. Ever conscious that she comes across cold-hearted and clinical to her patients, Maurice tells her “don’t let your misfortunes find a home.” This can apply to everyone in the sense that we really shouldn’t let past experiences taint our view of ‘the now’ or future. Memories are always with us but sometimes we have to let go of who we were, to move forward and be the person we are meant to be.

Rachel Sykes is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

Missed our analysis of the Previous Season’s Episodes? Read them here.

Missed an episode? Watch full episodes for a limited time on NPT’s “Watch Now” Video Portal here.

The Guy on the Stage with the Quarters in His Pockets

By Joe Pagetta

Back when I was an aspiring singer-songwriter in my late teens and early 20s, I used to take the PATH train from Jersey  City into Greenwich Village in NYC on Monday and Tuesday nights to play open mics.  It’s where I got a good part of my education as a songwriter and performer. Most of the artists were considerably older than me, and occasionally, when I’d get a compliment on a song from a seasoned performer (sometimes with a “how old are you?” questioned attached), I took it as a vote of confidence. One night, the legendary Dave Van Ronk even took the stage. Open mics in NYC at the time where different than the open mics I encountered when I first moved to Nashville.  Here, they were the bottom rung. An attempt to be seen and maybe get a song cut, or be invited back for a showcase.  In NYC, everyone did them as a way to try out new songs and see what everyone else was doing. Or maybe you just wanted to get out and play an old song you hadn’t played in awhile. No pressure to impress.

Who knows why some things stick with you. But one night, during the winter, one guy got up and before he performed, said something about how cold it was outside. He said he always fills up his pockets with quarters on nights like this, so he can hand out a few to the panhandlers and the homeless that he comes across downtown. It was a such a simple statement and it really made an impression on me. One, for what it said about the people that chose to gather at these weeknight open mics, and that I, by default, was choosing to associate with; and two, for how it framed generosity. The money was given with no strings attached – he did not give a stipulation that they use it for food or towards new shoes. He didn’t offer a plan to cure poverty, and he wasn’t making some grand statement about the social contract. He didn’t present it in a way that made those in attendance feel guilty that they didn’t think of carrying some extra change. He just said what he did. And by doing so, said something about himself. It was simple and concise. Appropriately folksy. And I’ve never forgotten it.

When I think about The Big Payback this Tuesday, May 6, I think about that night. One may not seem to have anything to do with the other. The official line on The  Big Payback is “a community-wide online giving day hosted by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee on May 6, 2014 that will help Middle Tennessee nonprofits raise much-needed unrestricted dollars and bring awareness to pressing needs in our communities. The way it works is that for 24-hours beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 6 to 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 7, donors can make gifts to participating nonprofits that are located in or provide services in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee. Donations will be amplified by incentives, bonuses and additional prizes.”

For the over 500 non-profits participating, NPT included, The Big Payback is a Big Deal. We certainly want to win those incentives, bonuses and additional prizes.  Like everyone else. But if choosing from 525 non-profits makes your head spin, or if you’re waiting for May 6 to give to that one non-profit you always give to, I’d like to suggest you think like that guy with the quarters in his pockets. The Big Payback may potentially be a Big Deal to us, but it doesn’t have to be to you. And by that, I don’t mean, $20 or $50 or $250 doesn’t make a difference to you. I mean, perhaps don’t over think it.

The Big PaybackConsider all the non-profits in Middle Tennessee doing hard and important work in Middle Tennessee in a variety of areas — the arts, social services, health, refugee resettlement, poverty, food, animal welfare and more. Perhaps on May 6, imagine you’re heading to an area where all the non-profits live — on this day thebigpayback.org — and you’ve put $20 in your virtual pocket. That’s all you’ve got. On your way, you decide to give $5 to the organization that helps teens, another $5 to an organization that helps animals, and maybe $10 to the place that helps survivors of domestic violence get back on their feet.  Perhaps you have more than $20 and want to donate to several other organizations, or maybe you’ve got $100 and there’s one particular non-profit whose work really resonates with you.

Maybe that gentleman on the stage that night in New York City was at one time down on his luck and had to resort to panhandling, and that’s why he puts quarters in his pockets on cold winter nights.  Whatever the reason, he said a lot about himself before he ever strummed a chord.  Perhaps treat The Big Payback as a way to say something about yourself. About what matters to you. You’ll get lots of emails between now and then, and the day of, all of us non-profits wanting you to remember us. A little healthy competition is fun. In the end, though, we all benefit, because in addition to working for non-profits, we’re all citizens of this same great community and all benefit from each other’s work. Just like I, and maybe you now, benefited from the guy on the stage with the quarters in his pockets.

 

(Bonus British Perspective) `Call the Midwife` Recaps: Season 3: Episode 5

In addition to the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing guest blogging for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife — airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18 — we are thrilled to have a bonus blogger. Rachel Sykes, who did a practicum at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing in the summer 0f 2013, is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. She’s watched the show on the BBC and will provide a unique UK-perspective. She currently practices in a busy maternity unit in the Northwest of England.

SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.

Call the Midwife Episode 5 (Two)

By Rachel Sykes

Rachel Sykes HeadshotCup of Rosy Lee anyone? Rosy Lee is cockney rhyming slang for tea, in case you were wondering what Chummy (Miranda Hart) is serving up to the Harper family, in their moment of crisis. Brits are well known for their long standing love affair with this unique, hot, beige liquid (me in particular) and use it as a remedy for all sorts of situations. You’ve had a minor car crash and are in shock, have a cup of tea! You’ve had a gruelling day at work and want to drop dead, have a cup of tea! You’re devastated after finishing with the love of your life, have a cup of tea! The world is going to end, have a cup of tea! Well, maybe not the last one, but you get my drift. London natives, otherwise known as Cockneys, use Cockney rhyming slang in everyday conversation. The ‘Apples and pears’ (stairs), ‘Currant bun’ (sun), ‘Dog and bone’ (phone), ‘Trouble and strife’ (wife, this one Cockney men just love to say) are just a few examples of this dialect. Some Northerners have caught onto it too, my friend Kerrie often refers to me as her ‘china plate’ (mate).

This week, the focus is on vulnerability. Sally Harper (Sarah Gordy), the lady with Down’s Syndrome presents with abdominal pain and later finds out she is expecting a child. I imagine there aren’t many midwives who have seen this before, or would ever experience it. Anyone with special needs or learning difficulties would fall under the umbrella term of vulnerable adult. Midwives have an immense responsibility to safeguard the well-being of vulnerable pregnant women. Other examples of vulnerable women would be those with mental health issues, victims of domestic abuse and women who misuse substances. In many hospitals around the UK, there is usually a specialist midwife appointed to assist in the care of these women. These midwives receive specialist training in safeguarding adults and they liaise with other agencies such as social services in order to devise a plan of care, tailored to the woman’s needs. Given Sally’s situation, the residential home failed to safeguard her well-being. Though, from a human perspective, Sally and Jacob’s (Colin Young) relationship could be considered to be an innocent boyfriend- girlfriend relationship. Who are we to argue? Everyone deserves love regardless of circumstances. As Sally says ‘I am normal as the day ends.’

During their first midwife appointment, all pregnant women are offered screening for Down’s Syndrome. The initial screening calculates the risk of having a Down’s Syndrome baby and if the risk is above a certain threshold, a further diagnostic test is offered, which is usually an amniocentesis.

Chummy and her husband Peter, struggle to strike a balance between family life and work life. Chummy, in her defence explains ‘babies aren’t exactly a part- time business.’ This we all know is true, babies don’t have a Filofax and rarely arrive on their due date. In my experience, women often deliver at night time. I do think this is a really good example of how we as humans reflect our core, primal instinct with regards to birthing our young. Animals often deliver their babies during the ‘wee small hours,’ a time when it is usually quiet and dark, an ideal environment for nature’s physiology to take its course, labouring women included. Throughout my childhood, I owned and cared for various animals including guinea pigs (Peruvian Cavies) and ponies, all of which birthed their babies during the night. I would often get up in the morning to find new additions to my family, much to my parent’s dismay. I am pretty sure their hearts sank that little bit more after each addition!

Rachel Sykes is a registered midwife and graduate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

Missed our analysis of the Previous Season’s Episodes? Read them here.

Missed an episode? Watch full episodes for a limited time on NPT’s “Watch Now” Video Portal here.

`Call the Midwife` Recaps: Season 3: Episode 5

For the third season in-a-row, we are honored to have the faculty of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing back to guest blog for us each Monday morning about the previous night’s episode of Call the Midwife, airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 30-May 18. Check in here every Monday morning for the next eight weeks for historical and contemporary context on the show, and some fun discussion. Plus, this year we’ll have the occasional bonus blog from across the pond to get the British perspective. So be sure to check the blog TWICE on Mondays. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.

All the Midwife Episode 5

By Michelle Collins PhD, CNM

Michelle Collins

In keeping with this season’s theme of some very complex content matter, this week was no exception. Contrary to Dr. Turner’s and the midwive’s consternation that the young woman with Down Syndrome (DS) conceived, it is possible for conception to occur in women with DS (albeit their chances are decreased). If they do conceive, they have a high risk (approximately 50%) of having a child with DS, and also have a greater risk of miscarriage. Males with DS, on the other hand, have decreased ability to father children; they are usually sterile.

Not so long ago, society’s approach to individuals with DS (and other intellectual disabilities) was to subject women to nonconsensual sterilization, often including hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). People with DS, as well as those with other intellectual disabilities, have been labeled as somehow asexual and thus “kept in the dark” about sexual health, with the thought being that if they are not taught about sexual health, they will not participate in sexual activity. This is of course a misconception, as individuals with DS are sexual beings, as we all are. Not providing them with education and information about sexuality does not prevent them from engaging in sexual activity. In fact, it increases their risk of being sexually mistreated or abused, particularly if they are not educated, and warned, about the behaviors of those who would prey upon them. A critical aspect of this issue is that people with intellectual disabilities MUST be provided with the knowledge that will enable them to make informed choices about their own reproductive health, and that includes giving them information to assist them in making choices about contraception.

Sister Evangeline’s jubilee also captivated our attention in this episode. For those among us who may not know what a jubilee is, it is the anniversary of when a religious sister, or nun, enters her vocation. The mark can be 25, 50, or however many years of service that the community decides to celebrate. Despite Sister Evangeline’s apparent distaste for all things “jubilee,” the joy and humility she eventually feels at seeing old friends, and embracing those whose births she was a part of, was palpable. Sentiment is a funny thing; some of us shy away from it because to reveal that we have a sentimental side puts us at risk of revealing our real selves, and revealing our real selves opens us up to the possibility that we will be misunderstood, or worse, rejected. As a midwife, I could identify with what Sister Evangeline must’ve felt as the line of those whose births she had been blessed to be part of filed past her. Researchers have noted that one of the most powerful memories that women carry throughout their lives is that of their birth experiences – good or bad. In interviewing elderly women, researchers have been impressed by the depth of detail that women can recall about giving birth. So it is with midwives; but we remember vividly not only the details of our own children’s births, but the births of those we have been so privileged to be part of. Now I won’t try to pretend that we midwives can remember in great detail every single birth we have ever been part of, but there are so many births that touch our hearts along the way. And like Sister Evangeline, we have preciously stored away in our memories the faces of those whose paths we have crossed who have made much more of an impression on us, than we have on them.

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