Friday, 11 December 2009

So what life am I made for?

It's been an emotional week.

I'm doing a night class to get a qualification to support my application to University to study Midwifery. I love being a Doula but seven clients in twelve months is not going to fulfil me let alone give me pocket money. So with great trepidation I have begun the application process to get into University in order to get that elusive Degree. Having been brought up to study hard in order to get good qualifications, in order to get better qualifications, in order to get a good and well-paid job, I have always felt somehow unworthy that I do not have a decent well-respected qualification which would grant me access to that well-paid job. It's a long story but I've been out of school education for over 24 years. By this time in my life I imagined I would be comfortable and able to get holidays in the sun...

So, various news items over the last few days has left me wondering where my future lies.

The Albany Midwifery Practice is one practice I always hoped I would be able to arrange a placement with. They believe:
women have the right to be given evidence based information in order to make informed choices throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.
Fantastic! Just what I want. I am also fortunate in that I would get to do placement at local Maternity Units which also have this outlook, and it would be wonderful to go to the Farm too ;)

However, King's College Hospital have terminated their contract. Why? The Albany has low medical intervention rates, high home birth rates, and mothers who have birthed there appear to be passionate in their support. They like being able to make informed choices, they like being treated like sentient adults.

A baby died, this is very sad. But why the kneejerk reaction from King's to terminate the Albany's contract? Especially when apparently the investigation did not include comparative Data?

On another Blog, The F Word, Amity Reed reports on the effort to keep that Albany open and why it's so important for reproductive rights. Womens' reproductive right to choose where to give birth.

Why does King's College Hospital not look to it's own backyard? After all, they can't even support their student midwives sufficiently. A midwife was found hanged after she wrongly believed she was to blame for a baby's death, an inquest just heard.
Yet in Milton Keynes a coroner has branded midwife shortages at a hospital where a newborn baby girl died as "nothing short of scandalous". And it's not the first time in Milton Keynes, and Milton Keynes is not the only hospital. Being in hospital does NOT make birthing safer. Having one to one care during labour from competent and supported midwives makes birthing safest.

All over the UK I hear from midwives who are disillsuioned and leaving the profession. Yesterday I saw a letter from respected Independent Midwife published on AIMS website and I truly wonder what I will be letting myself in for. I mean, if even the Independent Midwives feel they can no longer practise what hope does Midwifery have in the UK?

Joseph DeLee's 1915 Campaign to Eliminate the Midwife is one I was horrified to read about on Unnecesarean: The Blog. However, I don't believe this attitude has fully died out, even in the 21st Century :/

So... can I enter the lions' den? Will I be able to cope for 3 or more years in the 'system' where bullying is rife, where the type of midwife I want to be is likely to be quashed? Will I be strong enough to come out the other side and be the midwife I would want to be, the midwife others would want to care for them, the midwife who gives women evidence based information in order to make informed choices throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period?

I believe that women should have the right to choose to give birth at home or in hospital, to be able to plan an unmedicated home birth or to plan an elective Caesarean section, respecting their wishes whilst considering risks rationally, and then being supported compassionately whatever the outcome of the birth. Respecting parents' informed choice is paramount, even if we sometimes disagree with it.

Being part of Doula UK means that I have support and mentoring from my fellow doulas. Doulas need to be Doula'd. In fact, as human beings we all need to be Doula'd through all stages of life. I'd like to think that midwives get mentored and supported fully but once qualified I'm not sure if they do, and I am devastated that Theresa Naish felt she had no-one to turn to.


  1. I love that you are so sure on the way you want to practice as a midwife, although I fear your training would really dishearten you.

    I am a first year midwifery student and I was also looking into visiting the farm as part of the course but the university has stopped our elective placements and now we just go where they tell us to.

    I think you would make an inspirational midwife, we need more like you! keep up the fight x

  2. Thank you, I just realised I hadn't thanked you, although I had read it at the time. Well, I'm not sure I'm ever going to be a midwife at this rate, which you can see from my later posts. Good luck with your training, I hope you continue to be the midwife you want to be.


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