Tell us about your occupation.
I am a midwife in Senlis, France.
Why did you choose to go into your particular field of medicine/healthcare?
My brother is a pediatrician. My sister is a nurse. I am the youngest, and I decided to incorporate some of the skills of each of my siblings into a separate profession.
Where were you born?
I was born in the tiny village of Vaison la Romaine in the south of France.
Where have you been?
I had to travel from the very beginning of my school career. Lycee in Arles, then a few years in Paris exploring life in a big city. My mother’s sister lives in Geneva, and after I decided on midwifery, I decided to go to be trained there and at the same time live with my beloved aunt. I have been to Mali and Zimbabwe on holidays, and of course London.
Medical style you grew up with?
My mother treated all of us at home with, first of all, good and nutritious food, and herbal remedies. We were all very healthy most of the time. Only if we were really ill did she consult a doctor.
Your views on health in your own home?
We were almost like the American Christian Scientists; my parents felt our bodies were meant to be strong, and even a broken arm would heal itself, given time. I would not recommend the same viewpoint.
What is the most difficult aspect of your work for you to accept?
Because my parents believed every child was born with a perfect body and a whole mind. They didn’t know any babies who didn’t fit this image. At first it was a big thing for me when a patient of mine would deliver a child who was either deformed or impaired. I now see these babies as a very special treasure, because they have the ability to inspire a new way of life, soften the heart and break down social barriers in the family.
What are you most proud of/grateful for about your work?
I believe my proudest moments come when I can help an expectant mother who tells me she is sure she cannot bear a child vaginally, does so, with her own will and my help.
What surprises you about your patients?
The experiences that surprise me most? The young girls who come in without husbands or committed partners but leave with a baby they are glad they bore.
What is your go-to home-remedy for a cold?
Fresh thyme, brewed in the teapot with honey and lemon.
The book that changed your life?
I read a surprising book while I was in my training about an American doctor who tilts his delivery table so gravity helps to deliver the baby. I have since followed this practice however I could. At home, it is with pillows. And it has resulted in quicker births, and grateful mothers.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I have received professionally? Do not let any male doctor tell you that women do not have adequate training.
If you could stay home with a cup of coffee three days a week and research any area of health that pertains to your occupation, what would it be and why?
If I were free to stay home for a little while and drink a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while I researched the topic of my choice, I would focus on studies of healthcare professionals who attempt to convince poor women in poor countries to limit their births. I am going to Zimbabwe soon for three months to work in a clinic that trains midwives. I will be talking to them about how best to approach this subject with their patients.
Favorite Place to be?
My favorite place in the world? The island of Ibiza. I have a friend who has a tiny house in a very private part of Ibiza with a beautiful view of the sea and a glorious beach. Together we cook lovely meals and watch the sea by day and night.
Is there a piece of music, composer or artist that gives you strength and/or healing?
The music that gives me strength and I have on CDs for my patients? La Mer for its romanticism, Bach’s Fugues for clearing the mind for concentration in the hard work of giving birth.
What is your greatest strength as a provider?
My greatest strength is that I love my work and my patients, and that they feel confident and in good hands with me.
What does self-health mean to you?
Self-health is both really simple and also really tough. Because it means taking conscious responsibility for yourself, and understanding what makes you tick. You have to take the time to recognize what you, as an individual need to feel healthy, which might be different than the person next door to you. I balance the very high stress of bringing a life into the world with a lot of yoga and going to the symphony. I also make myself hand-write a letter once a week to someone I love. It gives my heart and mind a new place to look out from. Connecting emotionally to the other midwives in my city is also important to me and we have a group that meets once a week to ‘unload’ our feelings.
Car, bike, or…?
I love to walk whenever possible, but sometimes in my work I have to rush, so I have a fast little Peugeot.