Kindness, Midwifery and birth, NHS, Women's rights

The Suffragette film and midwifery 

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 … 




9 thoughts on “The Suffragette film and midwifery ”

  1. Yes Jenny, you are right. We do have to be courageous and in our own integrity to stand up (or lie down) for what is best practice and the rights of women and their infants throughout their childbearing experience and beyond. I like your call to be suffragettes for midwifery … an honourable path to tread, just like those amazing women before us.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks Jenny. Not much point having a great profession if we are not prepared to take on the forces that prevent us doing the job we need to do. Time to shake off our middle-class-don’t-rock-the-boat cardigans and join with the women we care for in making sure they get they care they need. They have been working on their own for too long!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on jenhock and commented:
    JennytheM shares her sense of urgency around the need for midwives (in the UK but also elsewhere when forces prevent us doing the work we need to do) to stand tall like our sisters before us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jenny,

    Wonderful post. I had a fantastic midwife during my labour and birth in April this year. I was unwell and needed forceps. But her strength, guidance and care made me strong and empowered and feel that despite it being a challenging time and not the birth I necessarily wanted it was still a positive experience…

    I had to beg her to go for a break mind….she would have stayed with me!

    Having not really any concept of what our sisters do from the NMC (I’m a nurse) I was amazed. Promoting skin / skin and positive Births no matter what is so important. Love your blog X

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Jenny , yet another wonderful and amazing blog your talents have no end. I agree with both you and Carolyn, we must be midwife suffragettes. We owe it to women and families to be accountable on their part and to stand up and place our heads above the parapet- so that the need for improved, safe quality care is kept high on the organisations, Department of Health and Government agendas and isn’t hidden in the push for cuts and continued cost saving programmes.

    Women have the right to personalised , compassionate care that is delivered by midwives.

    Yes, yes, yes we wear the same hat on another passion , every baby has the right to have intimate skin-to-skin contact with its mother at birth or as near to birth as possible if medical problems arise. I can’t recall the amount of times that I have raised this and the implication it has on maternal and infant wellbeing and health.

    The big question here is why do some midwives believe and support this and yet others cannot see the value and investment. It saves midwives time they can put the baby where it should be -next to its mother and return a little later to verbally guide mum with principles of positioning if she isn’t confident. It is far harder to spend hours tying to get a baby to feed if this magic time is not facilitated-I am at a loss as to why this just isn’t an integral and normal part of care for every mother and baby.
    Keep writing Jenny and keep your passion

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Val im blown away by your comments – you are one of my skin to skin role models and I’m thrilled to be connected with you
      I’m in full agreement with you about skin to skin and why some midwives promote whilst others forget – let’s keep on keeping on as skin to skin suffragettes – onwards sister ❤️❤️ lots of love xxxx


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