Midwife shortages are putting lives at risk
There has been a lot of stuff in the news lately about how the low numbers of midwives in the UK are risking the lives of both mother & baby at birth.
The Royal College of Midwives recommends that there is one midwife for every 28 hospital births, but unfortunately this number isn’t met for any region of the country. Instead, we are left with midwives who have to deal with more mothers and babies than is safe, and the country’s maternity care is suffering.
Personally, although a lot of things about Georgie’s birth were a great experience, I have to say I did suffer due to the lack of staffing and bad communication levels at the hospital. The morning I gave birth I was left without pain medication for 3 or 4 hours because the midwives were stretched too thin to fetch me the painkillers I was due to take, and I was also 3 hours late getting sent to the delivery suite because of a lack of communication about the fact I was 4cm dilated!
In the suite itself I was left alone at times despite the fact I was already starting to feel the urge to push – the midwife in charge of my care had to go for a while & I was told to fight the feeling until she got back, by the midwife who popped her head in a few times to cover, and then I was left with a student midwife who looked like a rabbit in headlights, poor thing.
While I was staying in the hospital (and I stayed a few times throughout my pregnancy) I witnessed quite a few things that could have been avoided if there were a few more midwives on staff. There were at least 3 women who almost ended up giving birth on the ward because the midwives who were on at night were too busy to come when buzzed, or didn’t take their progression seriously enough when they stuck their heads in for 2 minutes. One poor girl ended up having their baby in the elevator down to delivery!
It made no sense to me that there were only two midwives on the night shift, and one nurse. This was in a ward that had 24 women, a lot of whom were in labour or were there because of dangerous complications in their pregnancy. It wasn’t unusual for one of the midwives to be missing because they had to go downstairs to delivery, and at one point during one of my stays there were no midwives on the floor at all. Yet there were more midwives and nurses available during the day – despite the fact that just as many babies are born during the day as during the night!?
And woe betide you if you dare go into labour or need anything during shift change. I had to have steroid injections during one of my stays, which are supposedly timed precisely 12 hours apart. However the evening stabbing fell around shift change, so I had to have it several hours late, after all the change over paperwork and gossip was done!
At the end of the day, however, I did have a fairly easy birth which my midwife helped to make a great experience… but only at the end. My labour care might have been sub-standard, but the birth itself is a great memory which I treasure. It’s just a shame the first 60 hours of care during my labour were poor, and I thank my lucky stars that nothing went too badly wrong during them!
Please sign the petition to ask the government to commit to recruit 5000 more NHS midwives in the UK. I think this is an issue that’s really important and needs everyone’s support.