Matrona Monday: The Moments of Pause

Welcome to Matrona Mondays! In Roman times, Matronas were those women who were known as the “Mothers of their Family,” or strong, respectable women in the community. "Matrona" is also the name for female Roman deities known as the Protectresses of a tribe or community. Each Monday, we will feature a voice of one the Matrona's in our community. These women, though different in history and practice, are united by the passion to support and empower pregnant and birthing families around the globe. 

-          -          -

It all builds up to the moment. The moment where everything pauses and is held still. A stillness that can easily be missed in this fast-paced, chaotic world of ours. Yet a stillness that is vital to the birth process. The emotions within the room of hope, anxiety, joy and anticipation all come to a peak as the newborn crowns and then is brought forth into the world.

And then, the moment of pause.

It presents naturally in the mother and baby dyad immediately following the birth.  A pause or a temporary stop of action or speech within a moment, a brief period of time. Karen Strange CPM, states it as a natural part to the birth sequence. She describes the Rest Period of the sequence as a pause before the mother then begins to discover her baby. It is the moment that allows for the gears of labor and birth to be appreciated with a deep breath in and then released to the next phase with a long exhale.     

The Mother’s Moment:

This is often depicted in pictures when taken immediately after birth. You will see a head thrown back, eyes closed, hands not touching the newborn, or a look of shock on the mother’s face. The visual of these immediate moments often leaves those in the room feeling awkward with a sudden sense to help. Help the mother hold her baby, help her look at her newborn, or question why she would not want to do so. Yet this moment of pause is necessary for her to take, in order to be able to move onto welcoming her child into the world. A welcoming that may start with her looking at her child, followed by touching. Could we, as a culture, actually step back and hold the space. Allow for the moment to happen, the regrouping, the centering, the deep breath, before life with this newborn begins. 

The Baby’s Moment:

The newborn’s moment is the space between birth and the first cry, the first vocal communication of the hard journey they just arrived from. It can be seen as a nonresponsive newborn that suddenly flails his/her arms and legs, a sudden opening or closing of the eyes, or even shaking of the head back and forth, all to be followed by the deep breath in and the loud exhale out. It can be easy for those in the room to get anxious as they await the cry. To start to worry in the seconds that represent this moment and then to want to help or wonder out loud if the baby is ok. The awareness and allowance of this pause for the newborn is essential to them becoming grounded after coming through the birth canal and into the world. 

The Midwife’s Moment: 

A way to support the pause is first and far most to acknowledge its existence in the rhythm of birth. Then to take a moment yourself. A deep breath to focus and become mindful of the room and the emotions present within it. To bring it to full appreciation by choosing to take the moment of pause and support the dyad in doing so. Place the newborn between the mother’s legs, by her side or in front of her, well within her reach, for her to choose to take the child into her arms on her time. The space that we hold as midwives is to allow for this moment to occur.

Showing respect for the natural pattern following birth will assist in setting the mother and newborn up for a smoother and more successful transition into the next chapter. The moment of pause is a time of reset, a break and change in the rhythm from labor and birth to earth side bonding. 

Watch for it. Allow space for it. Embrace it.

Laura Thielke began this journey as a pediatric oncology nurse where children taught her the true meaning of living. It was through their eyes that the world opened up to her and allowed midwifery to creep in. As she was pregnant with her first child, her midwife slowly ignited a vision in her that was unspoken, but continued to grow postpartum. Following the lead, she started her master's degree in midwifery at the University of Colorado three months after she gave birth to her son. Over the last 5 years, she has worked in both out-of-hospital and hospital settings. No matter where she lands the vision remains the same for her: to empower women across their lifespan through education, resources and community. 

Laura has three beautiful children and an amazing husband. She loves to run, bike, read and snowboard in her free time. 

Contact information:

Laura Thielke CNM

Director of Clinical Operations