“Ralf, the midwife”: Reporter writhes in pain in the labor simulator

Ralf Herrmann spent a year trying out the profession of midwife. The RTL reporter learns from real birth professionals, suddenly stands right at the operating table during a caesarean section, experiences painful things in the labor simulator and becomes emotional in the delivery room and especially at the end of his journey. Why did Herrmann slip into the profession of midwife? He wants to accompany a child into the world by home birth. The RTL viewers get to deal with a very intense and moving report on Thursday evening.

Robert Penz

Anyone who didn’t know specifically what to-do’s are waiting for an obstetrician and followed RTL “Ralf, the midwife – I’m bringing a child into the world” is now much smarter. Ralf Herrmann, whom some know as a reporter from the RTL format “Bauer sucht Frau”, wanted to know how the profession of midwife works and experience the miracle of childbirth as closely as possible as a completely inexperienced person.

Midwife Kim about her job

Herrmann’s gyno journey starts in Dortmund. There he gets his first teacher and mentor in Kim Kloth, a freelance midwife who has already accompanied well over 200 babies into the world, whose photos hang on her living room wall. Together they set out to find Finn, who was born eight weeks ago and now has to be “touched up” by Kim.

There are currently around 26,000 midwives in Germany. The midwife knows why there aren’t more: “First of all, it’s because of the bad pay and the high insurance costs, which you have to be able to afford first of all,” says Kim. A midwife earns an average of 2,200 euros in this country. Which sounds okay, but it’s not necessarily appropriate.

Kimm has to bear insurance costs of around 10,000 euros per year. Her constant “standby” mode is also more than demanding: “I’ve been on call duty since last August,” she reveals. Private plans during this time? No chance!

Moving: heartbeat through the abdominal wall

Kim’s best friend Kathi is in the 34th week and now wants a home birth after a suboptimal and not too lovely birth in a clinic. The fact that RTL man Herrmann will second midwife Kim doesn’t really bother the 27-year-old, who is far from mobile given the 34th week of pregnancy. Already today, Hermann is allowed to go to great lengths with her and touch a pregnant belly for the first time. He can even feel little Kami’s head and heartbeat through the abdominal wall.

Why is RTL allowed to be there at all? “It’s nice to show that a home birth is something natural and that you can have a nice birth at home,” explains Kathi. Only two percent of German births do not take place in hospital.

It is evident that Herrmann is moved by his new experiences. The young reporter cannot hide his insecurity and fear either. Especially when he had to learn about the art of midwifery, some of which is 100 years old, and practice it on a doll from Nicola Bauer, a professor of midwifery and a former midwife.

“That’s not the best listening position yet,” Bauer warns the RTL man, who is using the Pinard tube, the obstetric stethoscope, to check the child’s heartbeat and later to measure the cervix and cut the umbilical cord.

Extremely important: Keep motivating the mother giving birth. “The head is already there. Yes, wonderful!” Bauer praises the relaxed high-tech mother made of plastic. The RTL obstetrician is not quite as relaxed: the fact that he will soon have to help a midwife in real life makes him really nervous.

“Ralf, the midwife – I’m giving birth to a child!”: The screams of the mothers shock the RTL man

According to the RTL report, there are only 22 male midwives in Germany. Does a man simply have no place in this genre? “Until 1985, men weren’t even allowed to become midwives,” explains Professor Bauer, who takes the view that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman.

In the parent-child center in Berlin, Hermann finally learns what it means to be a hospital midwife on shift work. For the first time he also hears the unbelievable screams from the delivery rooms, which really get to him at first, which makes the cameraman, who is probably more experienced in this regard, smile. “You laugh, I’ve never heard anything like that. I can’t even imagine being there,” said the chalk-pale to his colleague behind the camera.

Together with the midwife Giulia Lauro, Hermann then takes part in a hospital birth for the first time. Dorothea gives birth to her first child. “I’ve never seen anyone in such pain,” said the reporter after what was a very moving moment for him. “Thank you for everything,” says little Senna’s mother to Hermann. “I didn’t do much,” was his reply.

The RTL reporter also visited a couple from St. Gallen on his one-year midwife trip. Karin gave birth to her child alone – at home and without the help of a midwife. She witnessed the births of friends in the hospital, which just wasn’t right for her inside.

“Everything is programmed. Our problem is fear,” says Karin, who also believes that every woman can do it, she just has to be open to it. Hermann watches the video of Karin’s unassisted birth. It’s disturbing and beautiful at the same time. “Don’t we need midwives at all?” he now wants to know from Karin. “Yes, every woman has to decide for herself how she feels most secure,” she replies. And yet she is convinced that women would have different birth wishes if they dealt with the birth more beforehand.

Shock: Little Marylin isn’t breathing anymore

It will be really challenging for the RTL man the next day of the internship in the Berlin parent-child center. He is there live during a caesarean section, i.e. a real operation. And right at the operating table, where he has to stop Sonja’s abdominal wall with hooks. After just three minutes, little Marylin is already born.

Papa Florian happily cuts the umbilical cord of his first child. But suddenly the mood changes. Marylin doesn’t seem to be breathing anymore. “She’s a little surprised by her birth,” Friederike Knüpling, the head midwife, tries to take the drama out of the very serious situation. The baby needs to go to the emergency room. But the all-clear quickly follows: The little one reports back and finally screams like a spit, which calms everyone down. “It was unbearable to see little Marylin like that. I was in shock. How the parents next door must have felt at first,” said a troubled Hermann afterwards.

As far as Kathi’s planned home birth is concerned, Kim Kloth and Ralf Herrmann have long been on standby. And that’s been going on for weeks, which is really bothering “midwife Ralf”. “You just don’t have a clear head, there’s de facto no end of the day,” says Herrmann, who even had to let his parents’ “golden wedding” go.

On the other hand, he doesn’t miss his appointment in the labor simulator. He wants to be able to feel the pain of a woman giving birth. In the labor simulator, electrical stimuli cause the abdominal muscles to contract – without warning and thus analogous to labor. The contractions become stronger and stronger, which, like during a real birth, tires the muscles over time.

Hermann writhes in pain and screams incessantly while midwife Friederike motivates him, which is not without a certain comedy. In reality, this is usually less entertaining. During this phase, midwives are often used as lightning rods and sometimes violently insulted by the mothers giving birth, who can hardly bear their pain. “The utmost respect for all women who bring a child into the world,” says Hermann after the great suffering.

RTL reporter Ralf Herrmann slipped into the profession of midwife for a year and accompanied expectant mothers and their midwives.


The home birth – the time has come

For 26 days and nights, the RTL man has not let his cell phone out of his sight, does not drink alcohol, sleeps badly and has almost no free evening. Everything is calm on the outside, but on the inside everything is at full throttle. At 4 a.m. the cell phone finally rang. “It’s time. Put on your shoes and let’s go!”, midwife Kim asks her assistant.

The now really nervous adjutant now has to step on the gas because he lives more than an hour away from the mother-to-be. At 5:30 a.m. he reaches the apartment just in time. He has hardly arrived and is already part of the birth. Every 40 seconds the mother-to-be gets a rush of contractions. “You’re doing great,” he tells her just before the little one shows up and is born at 5:53 a.m.

“It was just like in the movie, but I’m glad everyone is healthy and alert, but it was tough,” said the sweaty and completely exhausted RTL “neo midwife”. It is still checked whether there are birth injuries that need stitches. Nothing like that. The placenta has also completely detached itself from the uterine wall, as it should be. Kami is 53 centimeters tall, weighs 3.6 kilograms and appears to be a completely healthy little girl who probably has a lot ahead of her now.

“Thank you for letting me be there,” says Ralf to midwife Kim and her colleague. Then he writes a few more lines to the new earthling, which makes him cry. But really. Many people ask why people should have children. The best answer is always given in the first few seconds after giving birth.

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