It’s 3.25am and I’ve woken up soaking wet. Have I wet myself? No, surely I have more control than that (even if I am eight months pregnant). It’s hot. Am I just really sweaty? I don’t think so. I get up and go to the toilet, but it doesn’t stop. I call out…”Daf, I can’t stop weeing”. Minutes later we are on our phones googling “how do you know if your waters have broken”? And, the rest is history. Or is it? What would I have done if it wasn’t for those wonderful midwives who answered the phone and suggested I came into the hospital to be checked over, who encouraged me all the way, telling me what to do and ensuring Poppi and I were safe? What would I have done if I hadn’t had that aftercare when I was stuck in the hospital for what felt like days on end? What would I have done when I was struggling so much to feed and there was no midwife to support and reassure me? The answer is, I don’t know, but I didn’t have to. The 7th of May is National Midwives Day. These amazing people deserve our recognition.
Today I have had the fantastic privilege of interviewing one of these determined and brilliant people…
Did you always want to be a midwife?
I always thought I wanted to be a nurse, but after starting my nursing I quickly realized that nursing was a very difficult profession with a lot of sadness. To be an excellent nurse you had to be a nicer more patient person than me! So I looked into midwifery from aged 18.
Did you have any other dreams when you were younger?
I wanted to own a sweet shop!! And then thought the police sounded like a ‘fun’ profession but my ex-Cop parents put me off that.
How long have you been a midwife?
I’ve been qualified 9 years this month.
What is the best part of being a midwife?
You’re asking a midwife who loves her job. I could write you a list. My most favourite part is seeing women becoming mummies and seeing children become siblings! My favourite moment (and one I try to subtly watch) is seeing a young toddler come and meet the new sibling for the first time…
Other awesome bits include: Working in the community, I love getting to know women over the whole pregnancy process. I love pottering around people’s houses and meeting women from all walks of life who will become wonderful mummies. In one morning I could go to a family who has very little financial provision, perhaps very limited English and no resources (sometimes even no baby equipment) to families who live in houses where their utility room is bigger than the whole of my downstairs. All these families, however, are wonderful, the women are amazing (they really are) and are overcoming challenges to become amazing mothers, sharing their difficulties in feeding and sleeping, regardless of their backgrounds. I love connecting with women in such a remarkable moment in their life. It’s a real privilege. I love my team, we work so well together and support each other to provide the best care we can.
What are the biggest challenges?
Clinically – high risks, women with health problems such as diabetes and cardiac issues who perhaps many years ago were discouraged from having babies. It’s lovely that we can support so many women in becoming mummies and we have the challenge of providing good care to high-risk women. Risks of sepsis seem to be on the incline and our use of antibiotics. Promoting health such as encouraging exercise and a good diet has become a bigger drive amongst midwifery (NB: I didn’t prompt that part of the answer!!).
Other challenges include the obvious difficulty of providing excellent care when we are so often short staffed! The worries of our decision making and the effect it has on women and their families; the worries we may have missed a safeguarding issue and the fear of litigation!
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about midwives?
That it’s about cuddling babies?! We hardly get to do that, and enjoy it when we can!
That we spend a lot of time having a cuppa and chatting…I wish! We don’t get time!
I think sometimes people think midwives are assistants to care and doctors tell us what to do?! I wonder if it’s the other way round?!
Keeping everything anonymous, can you describe your most heart-warming moment as a midwife?
I remember seeing a mum’s reaction to having her baby arrive to be with her after being on the neonatal unit for a quite few days. Another was helping a woman feed her baby without it hurting her for the first ever time. The hope and joy on her face!
Did it change your perspective after having your own children? How?
Yes, it did! It mostly helped me to help woman postnatally, giving me more empathy with the frustrations of the early days. Everyone has different labor experiences, but I could definitely sympathize with the pain of a section wound and the emotions around labor that haven’t gone to plan. But, more importantly, my training and research guide my advice and care for all women and that is the same regardless of one’s own experiences.
If you weren’t a midwife, what do you think you’d be up to now?
Ooh, I really don’t know!! Barrister?! Property developer?!! I once met a woman whose job it was to buy clothes and research the latest fashion designs. She was off to Madrid to get ideas for the next season and buy the best clothes she could to inspire their designs. That sounds like a great job!
What is your favourite hospital drama of all time?!
I do love Call the Midwife, although it’s so quaint and dreamy, a world that is so far behind our midwifery world. Learning the history of things we now consider standard, is so interesting.
What advice would you give anyone thinking they might like to train as a midwife?
Research it properly, meet up with midwives and read literature about midwifery. It’s probably not quite what you think and to start with it will be hard! The training is full on and a little thicker skin may be required, so be prepared.
A massive thank you to this inspiring midwife and beautiful friend.