Saturday, 9 February 2013

fear + loneliness = Brave?

I have often been told that I am 'brave' for choosing to be an Independent Midwife; I wrote about this a long time ago and can honestly say I have never felt brave, or really understood why fellow midwifery colleagues consider me such.  I am just a midwife, working to support women, some courageous and strong, some needing support to find their inner strength, but all who wish to have the bulk of their care outside of the NHS system, with a midwife they know and trust.

I attended a beautiful home birth this week; I was not anticipating to be the primary midwife, but the woman's own midwife was caught in Jury service and unable to attend. I gathered myself together and headed off to the birth - I knew the woman and her family having supported them as the second midwife with their first baby.  As always, I mentally prepared myself, and drew inner strength and calmness into my being.  I was not aware that I would be doing that many times in the course of the woman's labour..........

Birth works: if you follow my blog you will know that this belief is deep in my inner core.  BUT, and there is always a BUT in nature, sometimes birth changes and sometimes nature will challenge us, humble us and remind us that she is a force that we cannot always control, always predict, always guarantee.  After the baby made its way earth-side (a beautiful, calm, wonderful HVBAC), the woman's body was not (for whatever reason) willing to release the placenta; I was concerned.  Too much bleeding necessitated a decision to transfer; a serious maternal obstetric haemorrhage occurred,  a wonderful team of NHS staff worked very hard to save a very compromised mother.  And a very shaken midwife was left holding the baby...... until he was safely tucked back with his mother later on that day.

So, back to my 'bravery'; it was with a sudden clarity that I understood why people believe me to be brave - and it has nothing to do with me.  As I watched the team work around the woman (and I was in total awe of the NHS staff and so very, very grateful that when obstetric care was needed, we had access to it), as I supported her, reassured her, even prayed for her, I have never felt so alone in all my life; the safety net of the NHS is a strong one.    Perhaps this is the reason midwives do not challenge guidelines, or policies not based on evidence; perhaps this is why the vice on midwifery is so strong.  Not that I am brave, but because the 'safety' of working within the NHS is so strong - and watching that team, I think I understood why people would not want to 'risk' that.  Being the lone voice, choosing to leave that safety net, to be fully autonomous, to accept full accountability..... can be very lonely indeed.  The fear of loneliness is why people believe I am brave.

I am not 'brave' for choosing to be an Independent Midwife; it is a wonderful way of working.  It is 'the gold standard of care'.  It is rewarding, challenging, exciting, scary, bumpy, amazing, tiring.  It is working to keep birth normal - and safe. I am not brave...... but if more midwives were given the support to work outside of the NHS, if the government fully supported choice and continuity, if the RCM would acknowledge a group of midwives who work outside of the system, it might be a little less lonely.

angela xx

He who is brave is free. 
Lucius Annaeus Seneca 

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