I find it really sad that midwifery regulators don’t seem to understand the enormous value that there is in continuity of care, which has been described as central to gold standard midwifery care. Nor is there much recognition that the relationship between a birthing women/family and their midwife can be pivotal to the outcome and their experience. Although the discussions are ongoing, recent changes in the UK are leaving midwives unsure about their role in caring for family members and friends, and I’m aware that in some other countries, midwives are prohibited from the sharing of birth stories which specifically mention a midwife.
Many women who choose to write about their own birth experiences for their own ends and, often, those women who have continuity of midwifery care find it impossible to write their story without mentioning their midwife. This isn’t because the midwife sought to be the centre of attention, or asked for a mention – in fact, usually these things often couldn’t be further from the truth – but because what we do takes us to the heart of women’s lives and makes us a part of their stories. This is the greatest (and loveliest) burden of being a midwife and the thing that I am always the most keen to teach students; that the things we say and do during our time with women – especially during labour and birth – are likely to stay with those women for all time.
But the really important thing here is that women should be able to choose who will support them during labour and birth. I don’t know about you, but I am growing tired of the regulator’s argument that ‘we support informed choice, but it must be a safe choice’. Because the type of care promoted by a regulator (and given by strangers, however lovely they might be) isn’t what I would want and, actually, it’s up to me what I do with my body, and what I deem safe.