Today is International Day of The Midwife and I am writing a this post because I believe midwives need acknowledging, celebrating and supporting, because without them pregnancy and birth would be so much harder.
As a mother of three as well as a busy birth practitioner, I have met many midwives over the last 14 years and, in my experience, they are a fiesty, passionate, strong-willed breed – and they need to be! They can inform, support, reassure, they can keep women calm, they can keep women going, they are skilled at saving lives and many are also skilled at sitting back and letting labour do its thing. They can also be essential in fighting for normality, at keeping the doctors informed but away if they are not needed, they are essential in keeping women feeling safe and comfortable.
The midwives I had in my three pregnancies and labours all made such a huge difference to me – without them being them, I might not have had homebirths with my first two babies and I might not have been supported to labour off the bed as easily with my third, when I had to be in hospital and I might not have been encouraged to accept each individual labour for what it was and to take each one step by step. Without my first community midwife, who I was lucky enough to have second time as well, I might not have trusted my body as much as I did. With all of them I was in safe hands.
Over the last 14 years I have seen such a change in the way midwives work, in the pressure they are increasingly under to care for pregnant and labouring women, to keep them and their babies safe. Most of the midwives I have worked alongside as a birth doula have been fantastic – supportive, informative, kind and caring.
Midwives are an essential part of pregnancy and birth, their work needs to be valued more and the maternity system needs to change to strengthen their role and to give them more time with pregnant and labouring women.