Birth Small Talk

Talking about birth

A poem: A midwife thinking

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

I played with a number of analytical techniques when conducting my data analysis. One interesting approach I experimented with was the use of what are known as I poems. (I became aware of them when reading a chapter by Reid, 2017). To construct an I poem you select phrases in the data that start with “I”, collect them together and explore what they say about what people are doing.

While none of these poems made it into the final thesis, constructing them drew my attention to a form of work that midwives often spoke of in my data, but that I hadn’t really been aware of before. The work of thinking. Thinking takes time, it requires effort, and it is an important aspect of the work we do as clinicians, but it isn’t captured in the way we describe our activities at work. This particular poem was constructed by bringing together “I” statements made by midwives that referred to thinking or a word with a similar meaning.

A midwife thinking

I’m thinking
I’m thinking
I’m thinking I’m trying to find the baby!
I’m thinking well changing position might help
I was thinking I really want the rest of the head
I think I’m going to have a baby pretty soon
I was thinking – well thank God for that
I think

I’m thinking – well, actually
I figured that I needed to address this
I’m thinking – right, okay, I’ve got to get on that fricken K2
I think you need two midwives
I think you probably need two from the commencement of second stage
I’m thinking great – someone can do my K2
I think you feel overwhelmed with K2
I’m thinking – what the bloody hell!

I was thinking
I think I’m aware that I have to prove myself
I think they will be quite content to imply that I’m inadequate
I’m really mindful that I need to improve my use of it
I was thinking if I use the whiteboard I know I can go back and fix it
I left there thinking, you know what, I know what I’m doing
I came out of there thinking alright I’ve got my head around this now
I think

I’ve been thinking
I think that’s what it’s called
I’m thinking you’ve got to be kidding me
I would have been thinking oh God what sort of a mess have I left there
I think probably without even thinking about it too much
I think consciously
I think that’s probably where ultimately where my head is I suppose
I always think, that’s what I do


Reid, J. (2017). Reflexivity and Praxis: The Redress of “I” Poems in Revealing Standpoint. In J. Read & L. Russel (Eds.) Perspectives on and from Institutional Ethnography (Vol. 15, pp. 29-47). Emerald Publishing Limited. 

Categories: Language, Reflections

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s