The Suffragette film has so many parellels in my life as a midwife and also as a single mother that I just have to write about it
As a midwife I see the strength and courage of women on a daily basis – I also see vulnerability , sadness , wisdom and grief .
These emotions and traits are also part of me and every midwife and must be recognised and valued
Until I “found” myself through social media I was almost lost and felt that I’d never fit in – through the power of twitter I have found my place and I’ve gained #courageButter . I have connected with brilliant inspiring midwives, future midwives, doulas, obstetricians and several others who are not necessarily birth workers but who embrace the fact that birth is part of our psyche .
We are all born therefore it is crucial that any birth is a positive experience for a woman, her baby/babies and her family – be that blood family and/or friends .
A great resource and a global voice for birth is the Positive Birth Movement founded by Milli Hill @millihill on twitter also look for @birthpositive . Any birth can and should be a positive experience whether it occurs at home , a midwifery led unit , a labour ward or an operating theatre . I see it as part of my role to make that happen as do many other UK and global midwives and birthworkers .
The suffragettes tried peace first and were ignored so then they resorted to different tactics – I wonder how they would have rejoiced to be able to use social media to spread their campaign
In the film their determination to smash windows and destroy communications within London are portrayed as effortless and without thought – but I’m sure in their hearts they felt scared and questioned themselves – they had families to support and were expected to show a sort of unwritten compliance to adhere to societies views of what a woman should BE or Do . When they rebelled against this they were shunned by neighbours friends and attacked.
This leads me to a question”What does society expect of a midwife ?”
A ‘NICE’ person who chooses to care for women through pregnancy labour , birth and early motherhood ? OR a courageous person who fights for the rights of all women .
So ask yourselves this “What exactly does the NHS expect of a midwife ”
To act as an employee , to comply , to conform? Or to question practice regularly to be rebellious for the good of others , to champion women’s causes ? To help each child have the BEST possible start in life by ensuring that each woman gets top quality care and prolonged skin to skin contact at birth (How could i not mention skin to skin as Jenny The M ?)
Does the NHS expect us to shout out that there is a shortage of midwives ? Should we declare that in most maternity units midwives are not always having a break ?-that they work extra hours unpaid to provide support to their colleagues and also that if midwives were mainly men our pay would be better. Taking a decision to ‘strike’ was not an easy one for any midwife but it raises awareness of our cause and I am proud that the RCM and Unison supported us all and stand by us
My advice is not to ask what others expect of you but to look inside your own heart and ask what you expect of yourself
I’m suggesting you all try to be suffragettes for midwifery – challenge practice , stick with those who encourage you , reflect regularly , embrace change and do the right thing – the best is yet to come …