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Everything I Needed To Know About Childbirth I Learned From Football

June 8, 2011

Everything I Needed to Know About Childbirth I Learned From Football
Genny White

Everything I needed to know about midwifery and childbirth I learned from football. I was an athletic trainer through out high school and during my years in college. Ah yes, an “Athletic trainer takes care of prevents and rehabilitates all injuries that occur at all levels of athletic competition.” Thank you C.V. Mosby and Principles of Athletic Training. Most notably the sport I most often worked was football, and there I learned the objective of the game is to equip the player to hold on to the ball, to move the ball down the field in to the end zone, and then to get the ball through the up rights.

Athletic training in football was a fine foundation for midwifery and I do know of at least one other midwife who was an athletic trainer. There are probably many more. I learned many things. I learned to stay on the sidelines and watch the game without interfering with the game. I learned to travel with the line of scrimmage and watch each play from this line without causing a distraction. I learned the sound of the game; I came to know every clink of the helmet and every crunch of the shoulder pads. I learned to love the game, while continuously visually checking in with the players after each play and watching out for any players who got up late after a play. It was the simple things like making sure that my players kept drinking throughout their playing time that mattered the most– Water is good but Gatorade is better.
One central thing that I learned, that has been indelibly left with me, is to take care of my players.

It was on one night, when a player, with a physical size that would rival any mountain, came off the field holding on to one of his hands with the other and screaming.  He was headed straight toward me.  As he came closer to me I could see the blood flowing as it fell to the ground and was whipped around by the wind. And when he became even closer, I could see the contrast of his dark ebony skin with the pinkish subcutaneous flesh now exposed.  I could see the pearly white of his tendons glistening in the lights of the stadium, and I could see the exposed bones of his compound fractures in his hand.  I moved quickly to get him to the bench, removing his helmet as he sat down. I worked swiftly in attendance to rinse, to bind, to immobilize, and to submerge into ice this gladiator’s torn hand. Suddenly all time was lost into the swell of the roaring crowd; the spectacle of the night was gone. We slipped into a surreal vacuum of time and space of our own.  Finally our bubble exploded with the flashes of photographers’ cameras all around. I looked up at this Rock of Gibraltar, who now had very real tears streaming down his face. I placed my back between the paparazzi and this athletes’ face.

Get Back! I growled to the horde. I was now guarding this six foot tackle, holding them at bay o until the Rock could be removed from spectators line of sight.

You see midwifery is all here; while at a birth stay off to the side, watch and listen without interfering with the process.  Make your assessments without being a distraction. Know the sounds of birth; a well-trained ear can discern where a woman is at with her dilation. Observe the contractions and their recovery.  Are there any late decels?  Make sure you keep your mother drinking throughout her labor.  Take care of her, and finally, in the words of a well-seasoned Midwife, there are some people at some times that you simply must tell to “Get Out,” especially if they are not contributing something to the birth and by there presence actually are harming the process of birth and the Mother.


My Midwifery Care exam is passed to me. I tear it open. Question # 1 reads; State what the principles of Midwifery Care are.

Ahh, I muse to myself, I know that one and write that the principles of Midwifery Care are to take care of, and to prepare the childbearing woman for all levels of the childbirth experience including any contingencies that may arise. Most notably to equip the childbearing woman to hold on to the ball, opps scratch that, to hold on to the baby, to move the baby down to the perineum and finally deliver the baby through the uprights. Score! And that I did. My answer was good enough for the Midwifery Care exam! Everything I needed to know about childbirth I learned from football.

You alright, man?

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