The importance of practising from the heart…

heartxsI understand that we live in a world in which science has become the dominant rationality.  I understand that notions such as centralisation, risk management, economic viability and utilitarianism have necessarily become the touchstones for bureaucratic services which seek to meet the needs of huge portions of the population.  I understand that many people who work in the maternity services and related areas are under so much pressure that they barely have time to think about anything other than the task in front of them.

But this doesn’t mean that any of those things are OK, or that they are the only or best way of seeing or knowing or being in the world.  And it certainly doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take time when we can to think and talk and write about other possibilities.

Sometime around Valentine’s day a couple of years ago, I found an article while I was carrying out a literature search for shoulder dystocia.  (I have since written more about this in another post).  I was struck by Sister Morningstar’s description of how it is possible to weave heart-centredness into practice which is rooted in trust and yet still informed by evidence.  I am always delighted to read such articles, for I firmly believe that we need to speak and write about and publish our thoughts and experiences in order to generate discussion about them and to preserve this kind of knowledge for future generations.

I wonder how many practitioners feel that heart-centredness is of value in practice?  For many years, I have shared my belief that knowledge comes in many forms, and in writing the editorial mentioned above I noted that consideration of love and of trusting women’s knowledge is frequently lacking in modern maternity care.

small_788566153We have embraced evidence-based practice for a good couple of decades now.  But what about those other ways of knowing?  For a number of reasons, I have been reflecting on the notions of authenticity and integrity over the past weeks and months, and, for me, heart-centred notions such as these are just as important in making and evaluating decisions as is evidence concerning possible outcomes, probability and/or risk.  But they are not getting written about much ‘in the literature’ and midwife colleagues have confirmed that they not getting talked about that much in many practice areas.  I propose that we need to change that and create spaces where we can ponder and discuss this important way of being, doing and knowing…

leaf heart photo credit: Matthew Fang via photopin cc

9 comments for “The importance of practising from the heart…

  1. October 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Some of the worst things I witnessed in hospital practice involved emergencies and the way mothers were so sidelined – it was as though they weren’t there as the professionals panic stricken wrenched babies out anyway they could – the vibe in the room was terrifying – I pitied the fathers most – how must they feel when I as a midwife was distressed witnessing these things? But in a home birth – just me and dad – how different when the same emergency happened – no emergency bell – no extra staff – how calm – the mother managed beautifully – later the parents barely knew if was a close call. I was blessed in my practice ………. So many midwives today have never witnessed a mothers true strength.

    • October 21, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Absolutely, selkiewife Lynn 😀 😉

  2. Bridget Sheeran
    October 21, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Of course ..YES! What’s stopping us write about this – go midwives go!

    • October 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

      I look forward to reading more, Bridget! 😀

  3. October 21, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Michel Odent (page 13 “Functions of the Orgasms) says
    “Those who understand the fetus Ejection reflex realise how useless it is to exchange views with others on the subject of breech birth, posterior position of the baby’s head, shoulder dystocia or perineal lacerations. All scientific studies published in the medical literature about the best way to ‘manage’ particular obstetric situations or particular phases of labour are conducted in environment where the fetus ejection reflex is ignored or inhibited. And no fetus ejection reflex occurs when the birth process is ‘managed.”
    Oh that we all learn that babies and mothers are powerful when working together protected and supported by those who love and respect them!!

  4. Elizabeth Murphy
    October 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Here is a quote from Einstein. (My 13 year old son is doing a school project.) “the Intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the Gift” and “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
    Recently I have started private practice I feel so liberated to be able to be myself and to honour the power of women, the sacredness of birth in a whole hearted way.

  5. October 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I have seen the true power of women in birth centre and at home. Having worked in obstetric units I have seen women’s birthing power there too. Much depends on the open-heartedness of the midwife (and doctors) to make any emergency situation a positive birth experience. I have seen it in hospital as well as at home, that when the woman trusts her care-givers, and knows they believe in her she can move mountains (or stuck babies). It is of course much more likely if a woman knows her care team, and mutual trust and respect is paramount.
    Working from the heart becomes harder in short staffed hospitals, where staff are not loved or respected by their employers. Looking after too many women sometimes causes carer’s hearts to close. I didn’t notice this until I became an Independent midwife, and realised some professionals seemed ‘dead behind the eyes’, my terminology for having switched off emotionally for their own protection.
    how awful it would be to have one of these automaton midwives attend one of the most important moments in your life. Sadly, several women have described this very situation to me.
    Thank you for your work Sara. xx

  6. Bev
    October 23, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Thanks for this Sara, I am just starting on my ‘research career’ and you have always been a great inspiration to me. I have often thought about the role of love within midwifery/maternity care and how important it is in influencing my practice. I agree with Joy how challenging it is within the NHS and the lack of recognition this kind of care receives and the effects it has on the midwives.
    I struggle with how highly scientific research is so highly valued, with it’s prescriptive methodology, rigid structure of dissemination and application, where midwives with a heart-centredness approach and women themselves don’t seem to be valued, casting aside this valuable source of knowledge.
    I hope these thoughts and values are reflected in my ‘outputs’ and will endeavour to keep talking about theses things with my ARM, midwifery and academic colleagues.

    • October 23, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Wow, thank you ALL for these lovely comments, it’s great to hear your thoughts and to know that this resonates. I clearly need to write more on this! Sara 😀

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