Midwife Margot has more than 17,000 followers on Instagram, an online platform Ask the Midwife with scientifically based advice, a section on this site and a solo practice. Now she herself is pregnant with her first. “The nausea is really no joke.”
Previously, she always had to chuckle when pregnant women took two or three pregnancy tests to really be sure of the results. Because well, a little pregnant is not possible and a line is just a line. But when she herself suspected she was pregnant five months ago, she suddenly felt the same need.
See here the practical experience of a pregnant obstetrician or midwife as 32-year-old Margot van Dijk prefers to call it herself. Another example. That terrible morning sickness. “Of course I knew about it and was not surprised. But wow… that nausea is really no joke. Then I didn’t know where to look. Those first weeks really bothered me.”
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Margot got pregnant at a time when she had put her solo practice on hold for a while. She followed her Canadian boyfriend, who had returned to his home country in corona time due to lack of work in the Netherlands. Together they made a journey via Mexico to British Columbia on the west coast of Canada.
,,In that period I started my weekly questions section Ask the Midwife on Instagram. Sounds romantic, huh? Travel and work as digital nomad somewhere on a sunny beach”, Margot grins. “Well, the reality is sometimes different. Time difference, bad wifi. You don’t immediately think of that. So the plan was to settle in Canada for the time being after those months of travel. But then came that pregnancy test.”
On the couch with warm socks
Being pregnant and giving birth on the other side of the ocean, the midwife in Margot didn’t quite like that. Birth care in Canada and America is quite medicalised. For the smallest things, pregnant women have to report to the hospital and midwives can be found with a lantern. Well, not exactly the atmosphere and ideology that fit Margot and her boyfriend when it comes to giving new life.
I don’t worry so easily about hard bellies: a hot water bottle often brings relief and makes the belly relax again
And so midwife Margot gives this interview with warm socks and a comfortable cardigan, at home on the couch of her yurt in a yard in the Amersfoort region. The wood stove on, the cat on a sheepskin and a nice cup of tea on top of her bulging belly. This is how she wants to experience her pregnancy.
“I feel more like Margot than the midwife who is pregnant. For example, I have my own doptone for my work to listen to the heart of an unborn baby through the mother’s abdomen. You might think I use it a lot for myself, but I don’t. I can just feel the baby move, so that gives me peace of mind. Then I really don’t have to reach for that doptone all the time.”
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“It is useful that I know and understand things through my profession. I don’t worry so easily about hard bellies: a hot water bottle often brings relief and makes the belly relax again. In the beginning I sometimes worried about the health of the baby. Precisely because through my work I have also seen the difficult sides: children who are born with an abnormality, for example. That is a realistic option, which other pregnant women may not consider, but I do. I have now been able to let that go again.”
The cheerful mother-to-be and midwife takes a sip of her hot tea. She is happy to explain why she prefers to use the outdated word ‘midwife’ rather than obstetrician for herself. ,,A ‘midwife’ sounds like I am the one who is the most skilled and therefore has to make all the decisions. Without knowing the pregnant woman in it. And it also implies that I have to relieve women of something (their baby).”
I want to help women to be autonomous. They help you make choices based on the best information
Margot makes an indignant face. When it comes to ‘self-determination of the pregnant woman’ she turns into a waterfall of speech. “As if the pregnant woman is a kind of helpless object, without life experience, without her own opinion or idea. And that’s exactly how I don’t look at it.”
‘What would you do?’
The word midwife means ‘wise woman’. Someone knowledgeable about what she does. But not because that’s just how you learned it at the training. As a midwife, I want to share my knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages of an epidural, about giving birth in a bath and recovery after a caesarean section. It is then up to the pregnant woman to make her own choices.”
Midwife Margot does not answer the question ‘What would you do?’ “During the discussions about the corona vaccination, I got that question more often. But what my decision has been for myself is immaterial. I want to help women to be autonomous. They help you make choices based on the best information. That is why you will always find a reference to the scientific articles on a subject under the blogs on my website.”
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According to Margot, listening to the emotions and wishes of a pregnant woman is the essence of her work. Take time. Bringing peace. That is also the reason that after six years of working in a group practice, she went solo and visits the women she supervises at home. “It is always busy in a group practice. There is a fixed number of minutes for a consultation and if you are on duty in the evening, you can just have to give birth three times. There are protocols for everything. Is a pregnant woman ‘too heavy’: little protocol. If the baby is not growing well: protocol. That was no longer the way I wanted it.”
“Many women don’t know that they just have the freedom. The freedom to choose a midwifery practice that is not in your zip code area, but to find someone who suits you. The freedom to take or refuse an epidural. The freedom to question the proposed caesarean section. That’s that autonomy again. It is not always the midwife or doctor who knows better. You know how you react in certain situations. Or what helps you to relax. And that is ultimately better for the baby.”
Like a queen on a bed, with a baby in her arms
But how does Margot actually want to give birth herself? “I used to be really stubborn about the hospital. It was absolutely not supposed to be.” She pats the cat on the back and looks around the yurt lit up by Christmas lights. This is a wonderfully romantic place to give birth, isn’t it? I can already see myself as a queen sitting on the bed, with a baby in my arms.” That chuckle again.
Nesting urge? I feel the urge to brush the baseboards with a toothbrush
“Look, if it really becomes the hospital from a medical point of view, then I’m okay with that. But even then it’s up to me – up to us – to decide what I do and don’t want. I have enough confidence in myself that I will succeed. At the moment I’m just very curious about my own birth. I have guided so many women to bring a child into the world. Of course everyone’s experience is different, but what does giving birth really feel like?”
Meanwhile, the nesting urge has taken hold of Margot. You may not see them, but they are there. The baby clothes. They’re there, folded in the drawer. Including some hand-knitted by my mother,” she says, pointing to the wooden chest of drawers she used to lie on as a baby.
“I once heard from a pregnant woman how she started cleaning behind the radiators with a toothbrush. Purely out of nesting urge. I can tell you: I get her now. The skirting boards here could also use a brush.”
Love birth stories? Ouders van Nu collects the most beautiful. “In twenty minutes we are two children richer”, says Wendy.
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