Call the Midwife and Normal Birth


Watching Call the Midwife on TV on a Sunday evening I feel totally overwhelmed and on the verge of tears with many of the scenes. How proud I am to be part of the midwifery profession when I watch Jenny and her friends at work. I can see young Jennifer as she grows to understand how special her job is and the complexities of life. The poverty, abuse and hopelessness some of the women in her care cope with on a daily basis is shocking and almost repulsive to her at first, but then she learns to admire and love the same women for being 'heroes'. What a fine message to us all. I am imagine most of the viewers of the programme (of which there are many) will feel the same shock horror at some of the situations and environments the midwives find themselves in. But as a modern day midwife, I know not much has changed. Yes indeed, in 2012 the poverty, abuse and hopelessness remains the same in for many women, and for some circumstances are far worse than in the 1950s. They are just better hidden. I would need another page to detail what I mean.

The programme does justice to the challenging but exhilarating and rewarding work of midwives, and childbearing women appear to 'get on with it'! It is refreshing to see women believing in themselves as having the ability and strength to birth their babies, and it was normal for the event to happen at home. For those of us who have witnessed the utter joy of childbirth both from a mother's and midwife's perspective, the programme helps to re-affirm the wonders of women. 

Babies were mostly born at home in the 1950's as there weren't enough hospital beds and birth was firmly part of the community. And now the pendulum has swung the other way, with a constant quest to reduce intervention in maternity care and promote ‘normal’ birth. The debate is clear and the pressure is on. And the situation in the UK isn’t as grave as elsewhere….

On the other side of the world where my lovely son Tom is travelling and where my niece Claire practises as a midwife, there are deeper concerns that are influenced by private obstetric practice. This is Australia, and Hannah Dahlen gives her stance on the problem.  This crisis is replicated in other developed countries and is shocking.

So as I keep my mind on becoming the Chair of the Campaign for Normal Birth at the Royal College of Midwives, I will be thankful for the NHS and for my passionate midwifery colleagues, and will remember Jennifer Worth’s midwifery days  always.