Monday, 4 April 2011

How big a radical am I really?

So... tired but happy, been complaining on Twitter about my job, but I really am so lucky to be doing what I'm doing. There were 20 people who got turned down for my place on this course.

I have had some amazing opportunities over the last few days to remember exactly why I made the decision to study midwifery over 3 years ago, turning our family life upside down in the process! I was at an amazing home birth the other day, which just warmed my soul, and I got to look after one of my friends in labour this week as well, which was a really special experience. I felt needed and able to meet some of her needs at that very vulnerable time. She was looking to me for support, even though I was keeping out of the way of the REAL midwives! She asked me to explain stuff they'd said when they were doing other things, and I know she appreciated having me there. It was the first time I'd properly communicated with a woman in labour, and it was fantastic, being able to explain to her what was going on in her body, and reassuring her.

It was very instructive to see some of the things that midwives do that they think help the woman. The whole directed pushing thing is quite cruel. I think that they made her feel she was doing it wrong, and that there was a deadline she wasn't going to meet. Chanting 'Keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming' about a hundred times. But the baby came and was fine in the end - yay! So happy for her.

I suppose what's the most interesting thing for me, with my 'systems focus' is how hard it is to change the way people do things in an organisation the size of the NHS. Directed pushing has been discredited and proven to be counter-productive through serious research. But many midwives are still enthusiastically practicing it - just watch 'One Born Every Minute' for proof.

As a student midwife, it's my responsibility to challenge poor practice when I see it. I'm quite a radical when I see something being done badly, I want to change it, and I've put a lot of energy into campaigning for better maternity services in the past. But it is a totally different thing to swim against the tide in the enormous NHS. As an Aspie, I'm already swimming against the tide by being in a 'caring' role at all. How willing am I to engage with the many things that could be improved in the way we treat women in labour? Can I risk upsetting my senior midwife colleagues with my opinions? Am I going to put my chances of getting a job here when I qualify on the line?

Watch this space...

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