My friend was telling me about her decision to choose a midwife last year. In the conversation, she said something to the effect of, ”I saw her embroidery, and I know I can trust her stitchwork if it comes down to it.” That really stuck with me, and I ordered my first needlepoint kit a few weeks later. I bit off more than I reasonably should have for my first project, and I’ve sunk somewhere between 75 and 100 hours on it since then. It got misplaced in the move to our house in, and I just found it again today. I’m excited to get back to it. It is relaxing and gives my hands something to do when I watch The West Wing with my husband (you know, only 14 years after the premier).
That fine stitching ability I’m learning is necessary to suture any tears or episiotomies after birth. Episiotomies are when a doctor or midwife makes a cut to enlarge the vaginal opening during birth. Previously, they were very common. However, professionals have learned that episiotimies don’t prevent tearing, and can, in fact, lead to worse tearing. They don’t even heal better*. But they still have their judicious uses.
Warm compresses, choosing comfortable positions and perineal massage can protect against tearing. With this knowledge entering into midwifery and OB practice alike, episiotomies (cuts) have decreased over the past decades, and so have lacerations (tears).
The project, one small, even stitch at a time.
I know that when I do needlepoint, partially in preparation for eventual stitching skills, the stitches I use won’t be the same and the medium won’t be the same. I like testing and stretching my fine motor skills nonetheless.
* Obstetric Myths vs Research Realities, by Henci Goer