Having just read the latest AIMS Journal (from Assoc for Improvements to Maternity Services) which featured articles from midwives and childbirth campaigners across Europe describing maternity care in their country, in many of which midwives are sidelined and birth is conducted in cold, clinical environments with practices decades behind the UK (episiotomy rates: Greece 80%, Spain 90%, Bosnia (first time mums) 100%!) and I have to say 'thank goodness for our midwives'.
Hoorah for the midwife who keeps the focus on the normal: patiently watching; forever supporting. Of course, there are those midwives who have been worn down by working in busy obstetric units, or who find it hard to shrug off the hierarchy, or who've not had their eyes opened. However there are many many more working quietly with the women they care for, willing her on, subverting the doctor's strict instructions, or standing between woman and obstetrician; midwives who encourage the woman to 'do what your body tells you', holding her up, rubbing her back, or showing the woman's partner how to do it, whilst shooting them a strong 'we can do' smile. We are lucky that these traditional birth attendants, now highly trained whilst maintaining that 'with woman' essence, are part of our very establishment. We must do all we can to make sure that in this increasingly medicalised maternity care true midwifery skills are kept alive and strong, and not lost to become merely obstetric nursing.
Being a midwife is both a privilege and a tremendous responsibility, especially for those in the community and those in independent practice, so love your midwife. And if you're planning a home birth - don't forget the chocolate biscuits.