It’s in the papers , there is currently a baby boom. Here I am, on the frontline, and I can confirm that it is true, the birthrate is on the rise but the number of midwives is static, well it is in my little world. Historically my bookings book, an A4 ledger which details month by month whose baby is due, will have months where the bookings take up 3 pages but these have been the exception, not from now on though, until December every month is taking up 2 pages with the majority going over onto the 3rd page. If I dwell upon it I experience a tensing up, accompanied by feelings of being overwhelmed which could, if I allowed it to, tip toward panic mode. I rely upon quieter times to catch-up with all the minutiae which accompany being a community midwife; updating leaflets I give to women; studying all the new guidelines and policies; completing on-line statutory training; organising new bookings, attending practise meetings with the G.P’s I work with and audit meetings with the midwives, paediatricians, anaesthetists and obstetricians at the maternity units. When community is busy it is the last 2 which bite the dust, the others I can do in my own time, the meetings I can’t, and that is a real loss as the interaction and learning possibilities at these meetings is really valuable. Not only do I feel that I am on a treadmill which is constantly accelerating but I also feel as if I am skimming the surface, never really managing to get a firm grip on anything. This worries me, it’s easy to get used to functioning in this way, to only do what is absolutely necessary and to allow yourself to ignore those side issues which are not immediately vital but whose loss must, eventually, stultify your practise.
As far as I can see this baby boom is set to continue and if it does there have to be more midwives. Next year is when the government has promised that the NHS in England will provide a first-class service to all new mothers, if it does happen it will be because midwives are still routinely working hours past the end of a shift. This provides a patch but cannot continue to fill the gap which has been caused by underfunding at both national and local level and, if the powers that be continue to abuse midwives goodwill, some will leave the profession due to the working conditions and their inability to provide the care women expect and deserve.