1. Perez, Paulina G. RN

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Birth celebrates new beginnings. As nurses, midwives, doulas, and monitrices we are honored to be a part of new life rituals. I feel that nursing and labor assisting are actually mothering professions which influence the tapestry of birth. How can we become more empowered in helping women to give birth? We must first see ourselves as strong and capable. Being empowered means that we have a sense of self-worth and know our own strengths and limitations. An empowered nurse can mobilize support and opportunities for his or her patients, and can help women experience the birth process in a positive light. Empowered nurses know they make a difference in laboring women's lives by helping them find their own inner power.


Our technological knowledge is not all we bring to the birth experience. One of our purposes when attending at a birth is to help empower the woman to give birth. It is our responsibility to support women while they reach down deep inside themselves to connect to their mothering power. What we do, in essence, is mother the mother. One of our most important tasks is to help women have faith in themselves. It is the mother's sense of self-worth both before and after the birth that impacts on the birth itself, and will also have an impact on her ability to mother her child. An essential part of our job as nurses is to identify the mother's strengths and build on them, not to emphasize her weaknesses. A woman who sees herself as weak and frail might understandably fear the birth process. If she has seen herself as a victim all her life, she is used to waiting for someone to rescue her. As nurses we can show women how very strong they are so they can believe in themselves.


We must believe in the mother's ability to give birth. Toward that end, we should not base all our nursing care on pharmacologic pain management. We must learn, and then teach women, to use alternative strategies for coping with labor. Pain does not weaken women; it is our attitude toward the positive nature of birth pain that can help women birth successfully. If we view childbirth pain as part of mastery of a worthwhile experience, the mother may not view labor and birth so harshly. Nurses should help create a positive birth environment where the mother can feel safe, trust her body, and be guided by it. We must respond to her needs. If she is tired we should let her rest. If she is hungry we should let her eat. If she is thirsty we should encourage her to drink. These are fundamental to her body's ability to work effectively.


As nurses, midwives, and professional labor assistants, we must use our power and influence in an empowering way that will improve mothers' satisfaction with their experiences. We must learn to ignore those who say what we believe is impossible to achieve. Faith is a powerful force if it is anchored in your soul. We must have faith and believe that we make a difference in obstetric care. We must remember that what we do is important and has value. The moment we stop feeling that we are making a difference we lose our power to touch the future. We must challenge conventional wisdom, learn to listen to our inner voices, and trust our instincts while making our own judgments. Endurance is the best friend of an empowered nurse. Nurses do not give up when they still have something to give. They believe that nothing is really over until the moment they stop trying. They persevere. They always believe in possibilities, not limitations. They turn their dreams into realities by taking giant steps into uncharted territory. They sense their own strength. They do not just believe; they know that they are professionals with the courage to step to the edge of the precipice and make it to the other side. The empowered nurse can influence the history of birth. Empowered nurses, midwives, doulas, and monitrices have the opportunity to touch the future by their work during pregnancy. They are people of spirit who can inspire the pregnant women with whom they work to touch their inner power. They are truly the gatekeepers of birth!