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
The words of Call the Midwife author Jenny W0rth narrating the last minutes of this episode are so beautiful:
The world is full of love that goes unspoken. It doesn’t mean that it is felt less deeply or that separation leaves a cleaner wound. Its beauty and its pain are in its silence.
I could not help but weep at the poignant portrayal of a family torn apart by disease (Tuberculosis or TB) who find healing in time to say goodbye to a father and welcome to a new grandchild. Tuberculosis is an infectious illness that takes over the lungs, leading to death if not treated. It is spread through droplets in the air when an infected person coughs, so being in small apartments in close quarters with many increases that chances of spreading wildly.
The community’s excitement over the “x-ray van” to screen for TB was interesting. Pregnant women were told that this would not pose a threat to their baby and were lined up to go in. We now know that x-rays are not recommended in pregnancy due to the exposure of the fetus. In that era, it is likely that being screened for TB outweighed the small risk to their pregnancy. We now screen for TB with a simple test of the skin on the forearm, and that screening is safe during pregnancy.
The birth in this episode made me smile. Having a baby in the reclining position sometimes makes it easier to “catch” that baby as he comes out, but it is not always what women prefer. Standing or kneeling, bent forward at the waist is actually a very physiologically superior way to push a baby out – using gravity and freeing up the pelvis to open ideally. I love that Julie, in her newness to birth, did what felt right to her and politely ignored Jenny’s request to get off the floor. Jenny had to do what I have done many times before, which is get down on my hands and knees and prepare to catch the baby the way the mom wants to push it out. This is one of many things that midwives do well!
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.
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