Over two years ago I was asked by the Birth Trauma Association to talk to the BBC about a report that was being published on the midwife shortage. In September 2011 it was reported that birth rates had risen faster than the rate at which new midwives were being trained and that almost 5000 more staff was needed to ensure good care for mums to be. Together with more complex births, the fact that new babies outweighed midwives in hospitals meant that many women would not be cared for sufficiently- leaving new mums traumatised and midwives frustrated.
On a basic level, the report highlighted to me that not much had changed since my son was born. Midwife shortages then meant that I was left alone for much of the time I was in labour and terrified. It also meant that I relied on a student midwife during my son’s first night in the hospital and I was discharged less than 2 days later despite wanting to stay. These are the facts.
I told these facts to the BBC because I wanted to help emphasise the main points of the report. We needed more midwives. We still need more midwives. Unfortunately some took my interview as an attack on midwives… it was not an attack. I would not believe that we need more midwives if I blamed them for what happened with my son.
In the end, the midwives that were involved in my sons’s birth were wonderful. They were caring and they did what they could to help. But they could not do 100% of a fantastic job because they were so over stretched. And that is not their fault. It is not my fault. It is also not an attack to say this.
This is from the Royal College of Midwives site:
The RCM’s petition calling on the Government to recruit an extra 5000 midwives into the NHS in England attracted a fantastic 75,000 signatures. This shows a huge level of support for midwives and demand for better maternity services. With such a huge support for the cause, several Members of Parliament have come forward to offer their support and help us to secure a debate in Parliament. The RCM will use this result to continue calling for more midwives and improvements to maternity services throughout the UK.
Four years after my son’s birth and we STILL need more midwives. We also need better conditions for them to work in. We can’t expect to rectify problems in maternity care if we do not invest in those that make maternity care work. We cannot expect quality care if midwives are too busy to explain, to talk to women. To care.