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Midwives, what would we do without them? A tribe of awesome humans that not only deliver our babies safely, but give us the confidence we need to keep these little bubbas alive. They help with feeding, with changing those first nappies and they comfort us when we're overwhelmed. Here, Samantha Wood shares her birth story and what midwives mean to her.
I don't normally get involved in social media trends (my feeds are way too full of pictures of my cat to accommodate any topical, worthy stuff.) But last night as I went to bed I read a blogger's post explaining that Pampers had released new findings that only 41% of mums thanked their midwives after the birth of their child leaving half of midwives feeling undervalued and under appreciated (no shit. I feel walked over if I don't get a ‘cheers’ for the breakfast brew I make my husband.) So because of this - and because it is the most wonderful time of the year - for every birthing story shared on social media along with the hashtag #thankyoumidwife, Pampers have offered to donate £1 to the Royal College of Midwives Trust, which is used to support midwives throughout the festive season and beyond.
I didn't really have to think about it, I knew I wanted in. Because although I’m definitely not in that 41% - having sent thank you cards to the staff on the ward at UCLH after my daughter's delivery - there’s a very special place in my heart for midwives and the job that they do and they definitely deserve to feel more appreciated than these findings suggest. Approximately 58,000 babies are born in the UK every December with around 1,400 rocking up on Christmas Day itself and it’s all thanks to the country’s over-worked, underpaid (the average wage is £26,000) 40,000 strong maternity staff. So last night, in bed, I typed the longest Instagram photo comment I've ever written and shared this picture of the first moment I saw my daughter Daphne IRL, held high above a C-Section screen Lion King style, as a massive High Five to all the midwives out there. (Spoiler alert: you might want to look away if you’re eating your lunch, it’s not the cutest of birthing photos.)
As you can tell, I didn't do labour and this guy holding her up for her first Instagram moment was a surgeon (who, may I add, only had two CD's to choose from to accompany the operation, Katy Perry or Coldplay - I mean, imagine) but the week after I was surrounded by incredible midwives who cared for us both when we contracted infections, couldn't grasp the whole annoying feeding thing and basically just found functioning in the newborn fog impossible. The ward was so busy but I’d press the red bedside button requesting morphine or a sandwich or milk for the baby I was useless at feeding and I’d get it all with a side-order of unconditional kindness. In the weeks that followed I remember being stood in my living room crying that I didn’t know what I was doing and the community midwife telling me to “put the baby down and come here for a hug, sweetheart.”
This wasn’t my first midwife experience. For almost the entire nine months of my pregnancy, due to my high levels of anxiety around the idea of childbirth, I’d been assigned four individual NHS mental health midwives who would meet with me every week and hold my hand as I sobbed and sobbed that I couldn’t do any of it. They told me they were on my ‘team' and gave me their personal phone numbers so I could call them at any point - day or night - if I was having a wobble or just needed to talk to someone about the impending birth. I did actually call one of them when my waters broke in the reception at my work and she was having tea with her husband and kids. But she left what she was doing (on her day off, may I add) to talk me through what I needed to do next.
And before Daphne I lost a few pregnancies, one in difficult circumstances at four months. I will never forget the one midwife who was with me throughout that whole nightmare. She told me that I could call her at any time in the future should I ever want to talk or find out what sex the baby would have been. I phoned her a few weeks ago - almost four years after it happened - and she claimed to remember me and reassured me that it wasn't odd or strange that I should now want to know that I’d been carrying a girl. She was as kind and compassionate as the day I was her actual patient. I can’t believe that some people could forget to say thank you for all of that love, support and professionalism, so this campaign is a good start.
If you wish to take part in the campaign and thank your midwife, simply post on social media using the hashtag #thankyoumidwife. The campaign is running until midnight on 31st December 2017.