Like they did last season, we are happy 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 Season 2 of Call the Midwife, airing on Sundays on NPT and PBS Stations nationwide at 7:00 p.m. Central, March 31-May 19. Check in here every Monday morning for the next six weeks for historical and contemporary context on the show, and some fun discussion. SPOILER ALERT: Some may contain spoilers, so please be aware of that.
By Margaret Buxton MSN CNM
Jenny (Jessica Raine) felt invincible in her uniform, floating above the complex problems of East London. Each episode of this second season seems to pull off a layer of her innocence and reveal the development of her character. That was certainly the case when she met Ruby (Leanne Rowe) and helped her birth a long-awaited son with a birth defect. Before high resolution ultrasounds, many women would give birth to babies with special needs and have no preparation at all. Ruby, fixated on her own beauty and the illusion of perfection in her life, was not prepared to receive a son with a spinal defect (known as spina bifida) that is associated with lower limb paralysis. Jenny not only faced the difficult task of relaying the news, but she also assumed the role of caregiver to this new baby and the entire family.
As a modern midwife, I assume the role of supportive provider, and while I care about the how the family is doing, I am not the one looking after the siblings and making meals in the home. I watched with a certain fascination and nostalgia as Jenny assumed this role, knowing full well that this is a true depiction of what the midwives at Nonnatus house were actually doing for the families of East London in the 1950s. The conclusion of the story was bitter sweet – the mother and father came close to giving him up but instead turned toward this innocent baby and decided to care for him. Jenny’s willingness to stay the course and walk with them through this difficult adjustment without judgement is the highlight of this episode. She absorbed all the elements of this unfolding story, never giving up hope for the child and for his parents.
Sidenote: The cause of spina bifida is now known to be associated with a lack of folic acid; getting enough folic acid (at least 400micrograms daily) before getting pregnant is associated with a much lower risk of spina bifida. Any woman considering pregnancy should make sure that she is getting the recommended amount of folic acid daily.
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.
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