By ELAINA WRIGHT
ATLANTA— Jennifer Afman, 25, paces the marble halls of Northside Hospital anticipating the beeping of her pager. Every time her pager beeped, it indicated that one of her patients was going into labor.
BEEP BEEP BEEP! Afman unclips her pager to see what room she will be assisting, and then springs into action. It was time to help bring another human into the world.
Afman went to Dalton State College and received an associate’s degree in nursing. After nursing school, she transferred to Emory University where she completed her masters of science in nursing degree.
Afman graduated in December 2014, and worked in a small doctor’s office in Acworth, Georgia, until she married her college sweetheart and moved closer to Atlanta in order to pursue her dream career as a midwife at Northside Hospital.
Since then, Afman has delivered about 350 babies into the world, each coming from a variety of different backgrounds and families.
“I always knew I wanted to work with babies,” she said. “I actually started my career as a labor and delivery nurse. Soon after working in labor and delivery, I decided to go back to school because I loved helping my patients through the birthing experience.”
Katie Morgan, 26, and a Northside Hospital midwife, has also developed the same love for her career as her co-worker.
“I love being a midwife,” Morgan said. “My favorite part is watching my patients become moms for the first time. It feels so good to always know you are a part of their birth story.”
When a baby is born, they go through so many changes during the first few hours of their life. Their bodies are learning how to breath, regulate blood sugar, work fluid out of their lungs and cope with their new environment.
After delivery, the baby is placed on their mom’s chest and this is when the two start to bond. While being skin to skin on their mom, the baby’s body can regulate all the functions needed to begin living outside the womb.
The midwife and nurse in the room help monitor both mom and baby during this time to make sure the transition goes smoothly. The first hour outside of the womb is a great time to have the mothers try to breastfeed because it helps with milk production.
After breastfeeding is complete, the baby is taken by the midwives to be weighed, and to have its footprints and vital signs taken. The baby is then returned to the room to spend the next few hours bonding with their new family.
Being a midwife is both rewarding and challenging. Midwives are asked to make some amazing sacrifices in their own lives to ensure that their patients have smooth births. These sacrifices include giving up sleep, time with family, limited vacation time, and being on call to work crazy hours.
“Babies are born at all hours of the day and this requires time away sacrificed from the midwifes own family so that can be hard.” said Afman, who had a baby in January.
Midwives strive to make sure their patients (both mom and baby) are happy and healthy. The job might be taxing, but it is also rewarding.
“The most rewarding part about the job is helping moms through one of the hardest challenges they will ever face,” Afman said. “It feels so good to see a mom feel so happy and accomplished after the delivery of her baby. I hope the physical and emotional support I give to my patients will help make a difference in their lives.
Birth might not be a beautiful or picturesque thing, but the start of a new life most certainly is.