These poignant words from a student midwife really bring home the cultural changes that must happen if midwifery is to survive and thrive in the way women and birthing people need it to. Read on to hear her story so far…
“First of all, thank you. Thank for you for speaking out, for providing us with a platform, and for starting this movement. I’m not a midwife yet, I’m in my final year of training. I’ve been thinking for the past few years about what I should write my dissertation on, about various things that affect women, babies and their families and what I could write about. We were told to write about what stuck out to us in practice, what we noticed and what interested us about midwifery, and what repeatedly stuck out to me wasn’t certain aspects of midwifery but the midwives themselves. Throughout my training many of the young midwives, some of whom have been midwives for less than 18 months, left midwifery. All of these midwives were women that I looked up to, that were passionate about care, knowledgeable and most of all incredibly compassionate and empathetic. All of them seemed to share feelings of guilt with leaving the profession, and many of them expressed feelings of wishing to continue to be midwives. So, I decided to write my dissertation on NQM’s and the preceptorship programme.
Throughout all of my training I’ve learned so much about midwifery, about what it takes to be a midwife, and also what midwifery takes from you. I already know that I won’t be a midwife for life, because I already know that I’m going to burn out and my mental health will not survive the difficult working conditions. I’m still going to complete my training and practice for as long as I can, because I genuinely believe midwifery is my calling and I’m going to try and change as much as I can whilst I’m within the ‘system’.
What has stuck out to me over the past 3 years of my training is the persistent feeling that I’m not training just to be a healthcare professional, I’m training to fight. It honestly feels like I’m training for battle, like I’m steeling myself to be thrown into combat I didn’t sign up for when I applied to university. The skills we learn in practice are just as much about resilience training, about how to deal with bullying, about when to speak up and when to shut up as they are about midwifery.
For me it isn’t a case of ‘if’ I will leave midwifery, but ‘when’. And I’m not even a midwife yet.”
These words really bring home exactly what is wrong in midwifery today- we are training more and more midwives but midwives are leaving the profession in droves. It can’t be about just training more ‘soldiers’ to send into ‘battle’, it must be about changing the battlefield back into the loving, caring profession it always was.
Want to help to be a part of the change? Want to get involved? Here’s how-
- Read more about the campaign here.
- Share this story with friends in real life and on social media, the more people that read these stories, the better.
- If you’re a midwife reading this and you’d like to share your story- please either email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Mrs C Mulholland, Do It Like A Mother, 869 London Road, Essex, SS0 9SZ.
- If you’re a parent and you want to share your story- hop over to Make Birth Better and share it there.
- If you work in maternity services in any capacity, use this story to form conversations with colleagues and managers. Discuss it and examine whether any of this behaviour is occurring in your unit. Is this acceptable?
I really do believe that by sharing our stories and speaking up about the truth, we can really make an impact and change maternity services to work for both midwives and the families that we serve. We really can make birth better.