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Delivering babies and dealing with infertility

Delivering babies and dealing with infertility
Photo: Delivering babies and dealing with infertility
The desire to have a child is one held by many, and once it takes hold, can become all consuming, particularly if a pregnancy doesn’t come easily.

“The emotions can range from person to person and everyone’s journey is unique,” says Psychotherapist, Julie Sweet.

“Many clients who come to see me, speak to hope, positivity, joy, excitement, elation, happiness, anticipatory anxiety, fear, guilt, anger, depression, lethargy, tiredness, irritability, despair, anguish, panic, erratic moods, hopelessness, stress, disempowerment, and sadness.”

To call it a roller-coaster of emotions would be an understatement. Unfortunately, one in nine couples will experience infertility, which can cause an additional surge of intense emotions that can be destabilising for many.

“Individuals and couples often disclose that they feel they are on an emotional rollercoaster when challenges present, one that can cause surprise and uncertainty.
“Many express that what once may have felt like an acute momentary emotion, starts to feel like chronic emotional set-backs.

“This can be destabilising and cause people to question many aspects of their lives, as well doubting self.”

For some, these emotions can manifest into deep feelings of envy, says Psychotherapist, Dr Karen Philip.

“Women sometimes feel like a failure if they are unable to fulfil the dreams both hold of becoming loving parents,” says Dr Philip.

“Anger around the unfairness, and jealousy towards other women able to have children can overwhelm the woman as she searches for answers and ways to reverse this situation.”

When you spend your days welcoming new babies into the world, these feelings can be exacerbated, and result in a complex combination of mixed emotions.

“The stress and frustration of delivering babies as a midwife when you are unable to conceive is monumentally challenging,” says Dr Philip.

“Midwives are amazing caring people and if they are experiencing an issue falling pregnant, they may experience confusion in emotions being great joy and elation at the successful birth of a baby, mixed with despair and jealousy if they are not able to conceive.”

According to Ms Sweet, the very nature of a midwife’s work can also contribute to how they experience and process trauma.

“Mental health and wellness can be precarious at times for midwives,” she says.

“Their physical well-being along with their emotionality can be affected due to several factors.

“Midwives can be susceptible to long shift work, workplace demands, systemic issues within the working environment, heavy workload, understaffing, workplace culture, salary, stress, and burnout.

“There can be a cumulative emotional impact with some that may employ negative strategies and poor coping mechanisms when navigating feelings of inadequacy, frustration, worthlessness, and stress.”

Some midwives may also experience vicarious trauma, often described as secondary trauma.

“As midwives undergo working with patients, bearing witness to their trauma, and these individuals’ fear and pain, they themselves can become vulnerable,” says Ms Sweet.

“So, midwives’ emotions can no doubt be layered and range from empathy, to envy.”

As the role of a midwife is so important, it’s crucial they adopt strategies that involve support, self-worth, and restoration, in order to protect both themselves and their patients.

“Self-care is a beneficial protective factor,” says Ms Sweet.

“Anything from physical exercise, to mindfulness techniques can all serve to place midwives in optimal positions when fulfilling their roles.

“Yoga, meditation, walking, gardening, swimming, reading, and surrounding yourself in nature are several positive outlets to prevent compound stress and burnout.”

Midwives are confronted with their reality every day in their job, however, by placing on their professional work hat, they’re enabled to focus on their job, says Dr Phillip.

“Whereas when at home or relaxed the emotions of dealing with infertility enters,” says Dr Philip.

“Keeping busy, speaking with family or a therapist can all assist to deal with the struggle of infertility.

“Being in the medical profession enables the midwife to access the latest medical techniques and information on fertility opportunities, and many spend time researching these possibilities. This can assist or hinder the midwife.

“It’s really tough, however, midwives are a group of professional, loving, caring and nurturing women who often place the welfare of their patient above their own needs.”

In additional to self-care and therapy, it’s critical that midwives access support from a collective group of both personal and professional resources.

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.