It’s been a strange old day. I worked 16 hours yesterday, was at a birth, sorted out urgent situations and referrals for women as well as regular antenatal appointments. I went to work as usual today and saw some amazing mommas, booked in lots of women who were coming back to me for second babies and got to see the first babies as toddlers which was such a treat. They were the highlights for sure.
Midwives are weird. They say you have to be brave or stupid to be a midwife. We hold new life in our hands and at times we make life saving decisions. We do this all for minimal pay and at times on minimal sleep. You’d have to be stupid right? Kind of, but I know myself and my colleagues do it because we are passionate about women’s health, supporting women and seeing families take shape before our eyes. We don’t care where you live, what your income is, what your skin colour is, what car you drive. We care that women feel supported and are given the best information and guidance, that you and baby are kept safe. It is our job to tell you the risks and benefits or situations that may arise in your pregnancy.
Todays lowlights was seeing that a mum had commented about a midwife in our community on social media. Strangely she’d done this via the many Buy, Sell, Swap pages all over the community. She wanted recommendations for a new midwife and felt her current midwife and back up were not giving her time or advice that she thought was helpful. There ensued a barrage of comments from women in the community. Most were suggesting midwives due to their superb care and had really positive things to say and I’m not surprised because I know my colleagues and they are amazing but some mentioned midwives in the community in a negative way. Name calling and throwing stones. It’s easy to do behind the invisible shield of social media isn’t it, rather than face to face?
This breaks my heart because I know how hard every midwife works. Sometimes we may not get it right, sometimes you may not gel with your midwife and it is always a woman’s choice whether she wants to change to another midwife at any point in the pregnancy. Our registration form explains this and every pregnant woman signs one.
The main thing I can suggest to any expectant mum if she has a concern is to first speak to your midwife and explain your concerns. This is a partnership. Although she’s a health professional she can’t read your mind. Tell her how you are feeling. I’m pretty certain she’ll be excellent at care planning and will adapt her care to suit. If after this things don’t change then by all means look for another midwife. Communication in a calm, constructive way is important. Your midwife has to communicate on so many levels, across many organisations and professions but you are the one she wants to communicate with the most. If theres a gap she’ll fill it.
Midwives are not a commodity to be bought, sold or swapped. Unfortunately we are reducing in number due to the nature of the work we do and the amount we get paid for a role we often lay awake at night worrying about, to then be woken in the small hours to welcome another life. A true privilege it is. Many have worked recently to reduce the hours we work within our teams to make us more sustainable. So sometimes your midwife may not be available, she maybe recharging her batteries or taking a well earned holiday that she won’t get paid for. If she’s not available I’m sure another friendly voice on the end of the phone with a wealth of knowledge will be. We are not superwomen, we’re just human.
Please be patient and be kind. Women need to empower women, not undermine them. Especially when midwives work primarily for women in women’s health which is always underfunded.