Palpating Pregnant Bellies

Palpating pregnant bellies is incredible. Today we were given the privilege and honor of practicing palpation skills on the bellies of 4 pregnant women ranging from 12 weeks to 31 weeks gestation. It was awe inspiring.

We practiced Leopold’s Maneuvers today, felt for the fundus and the rest of the uterus, felt for position and lie, listened to fetal heart tones with our new and shiny fetoscopes, and measured the uterus. I was able to work my way from the woman with the earliest gestation in order up to the woman with the latest gestation. It was surprising how much of a difference there was between even 1 week gestation difference or between women who were pregnant for the first time versus those who had given birth before.

And I haven’t even begun to tell you what it is like to feel a fetal head in a woman’s pelvis, to touch the butt of a fetus and feel the fetus kick and move away, or to know for sure that this is where the back is and here is the shoulder. Like I said, it was awe inspiring and I am entranced. I can’t get enough of it all.

I can’t wait to practice and improve my skills, to get to the point like my instructors who can place their hands on a woman’s belly and know right away what they are feeling. Our instructor likened it to learning how to read. Remember back in the beginning when you had to sound out each letter before your brain learned how to recognize a whole word at once? I’m having to think “What is this part? It’s rounded and hard, but does it move side to side? Is it a butt? Is it a head? And I totally wrong and it’s just a shoulder? If this is the head, that means the butt is over … here. Got it. Oh, NOW I can feel the back, it was there all along ….”

All-Mother, my hands are truly yours. These hands that heal, that will one day catch babies and that are currently learning how to feel life moving within the womb truly belong to you.

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11 responses to “Palpating Pregnant Bellies

  1. What a lovely description! I remember feeling that same awe with my own body…life is grand even though it starts so small…

  2. I want to find a shoulder! I must have patience… Thank you for your blog, I will enjoy reading your experiences.
    Jackie (newly qualified, still struggling, midwife.)

    • Ha ha ha. I think I only found the shoulder by accident. Or I only thought I found a shoulder. This student midwife needs more experience too. Welcome Jackie! Happy you stumbled upon my blog!

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    • No wonder your picture looked so familiar on your blog! I just figured Maine is a really small state and I must have seen you somewhere before. Thank you for volunteering your belly for us to palpate. You have no idea how incredible and how incredibly helpful it was to us all. One of the most magical days of my training so far. How’s the babe?

      • He’s doing wonderfully, thank you! We named him Atlas which turned out to be very appropriate because he is HUGE! He’s almost three months now. Wonderful homebirth of course! I was glad to participate in the class and congrats on finishing your first year!

        • Congratulations to you and Atlas! And thank you, I’m excited for my second year to start (after summer break of course!).

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  5. What a great blog! It was fun reading this post first from 2009 and the passion that came through in your descriptions, and then getting to read about your journey from then to now. Good luck with your move to Phoenix! Moving with animals can be a bit tough. I’ll look forward to reading how it’s all going for you.

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