A midwife's journey.

Reflecting on 20 years in the NHS

I started my Midwifery training September 2003 in Bristol.

Only nineteen years old preparing for my first placement, I remember feeling a mix of fear and excitement. I had to grow up very fast, supporting women and families at some of the most emotional moments of their lives. Holding people in my arms that have experienced unimaginable loss, it changes you as a person, you mature overnight. Sharing these moments with and being a small part of their journey is the greatest honour in the world and I am so lucky to have been in that position.

The word Midwife means “with women”. Although I am naturally a quiet, introverted person (especially when I first started out) Midwifery gave me a voice and a power that I didn’t know I had at times, when I needed to speak up for families. Being the advocate for a families wishes and needs is central to what being a Midwife is. A couple of years after graduating I moved to London and was fortunate to work within a home birth team and as a sure start Midwife, supporting vulnerable families living in challenging circumstances.

I thrive on the ever changing demands of each case, unique and wonderful. I have always loved community based work, you are able to open the door on so many different cultures and ways of living and continue to expand your skills and experience. To this day, I regularly work on community, attending postnatal visits. Women’s choice is key, and this is thought-out pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.

Adequate and safe care relies on safe staffing levels to be able to offer choice. I recently stood in solidarity with colleagues at the “March for Midwives” protest, to raise awareness about the every growing demands and pressure on a strained service that is under staffed and lacking funding. We chanted the words “birth doesn’t stop” on the front line of midwifery, this rings true.

Birth really doesn’t stop, it will continue, through war, recession and a global pandemic. Some of the proudest moments of my twenty years in Midwifery were working on the frontline throughout the pandemic. We didn’t know what we were facing, but each day my colleagues and I confronted the illness ( at the start with little or no PPE) head on, in support of the women, babies and families under our care. We pulled together, I was part of something very special.

I have the upmost privilege to work with some of the most amazing people who regularly go above and beyond. I was lucky to feel close to these people when others had to be separate from family and friends. We continue to pull through but the reality is that over the past twenty years, numbers of Midwives have declined rapidly, for every thirty Midwives trained only one stays in the profession (RCM) staff retention is poor due to the extremely stressful working conditions.

It is a catch 22 which hasn’t stopped since my qualification in 2006. The campaign for safer working conditions are at a critical level. NHS staff can no longer paper the cracks without proper funding and resources.

The NHS is an incredible asset that needs to be protected, because BIRTH DOESN'T STOP

Posted on February 10th 2023

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