• The Fit Midwife

A Change of Pace......

It was International Day of the Midwife this week. I know I am late to the party with this post. But I have been away from my blog for a couple of weeks with one thing or another. So let’s talk about International Day of the Midwife. I personally think this should be everyday but then I am a little biased when it comes to this profession. However this year is a funny one for me. It is my first year in a long time celebrating this day without being employed as a midwife. I am not sure how I feel about it really.

I actually count myself incredibly lucky. I am reminded frequently by the people around me how much Midwives matter and the difference they make to people’s lives. From supporting decisions and protecting rights, to literally saving lives. We stop bleeding and give ventilation breaths. And the whole time we probably haven’t had a pee or sip of water. What a profession eh!

I say the same thing every time someone asks me what it’s like as a job. It is an absolute privilege to be in the role of a midwife. Nothing makes a woman stronger than the battles that come along with pregnancy and motherhood. Not every outcome is a good one or a happy one. We lose mothers. We lose babies. We see every inch of human struggle and sacrifice, but luckily we see more joy and love than anyone can ever comprehend. And thankfully the latter is more common.

I guess I should drop in the little fact that right now I am not a clinical midwife in the UAE. I am not going to lie, I thought hell would freeze over before I left a labour ward voluntarily. It is and always will be my happy place in maternity care. It is my comfort zone. I like being in amongst all the action. I thrive on the drama, the uncertainty and the adrenaline. I don’t care that I am covered in amniotic fluid or I am elbow deep trying to find a cervix. It is completely worth it just to see that first look between two parents when they realise what they just made! It is incredible. You can’t describe it! It makes the shit (literally) we deal with on a daily basis so worth it!

However, working in the UAE as a midwife is incredibly hard. It can break midwives and send us running back to the glorious (aka underfunded, understaffed and oversubscribed) NHS! Where we are protected by guidelines, practice is standardised and women’s birth rights are the focal point of care. Where we get to do what we know best without hesitation or doubt!

Just in case you wondered, I am not bashing the UAE here. It is home. I love it here. Some things drive me absolutely mental but I am here out of choice and it makes me happy. But the lack of standardisation and regulation across every medical facility here is borderline crazy. It is hard within private healthcare to get women and not money to be the focal point of care. It is a business first and foremost. But surely it makes sense to put women and their rights and safety first because then you be more likely to keep the trust and faith there and ensure return visits when necessary to your ‘business’?

So with this in mind I have decided to take a step back from any hospital. I am constantly ruffling feathers for providing choice to women. Or sending them evidence at their request so that they can question their Doctors decisions. I have actually been reprimanded for providing support and choice to women. What is all that about?? Now make no mistake…. I know we need Doctors, when things get dicey we need their expertise, combined with ours to ensure a safe outcome. I’ve seen them do amazing things.

So I have stepped away. I have decided I can be more of a Midwife without being attached to healthcare facility. Without having my hands tied by being obligated to appear in agreeance with advice that isn’t necessarily best for a woman but is best for a doctor. As long as I belong to an institution that values money over choice and birth rights then I cannot be the professional I was raised to be.

You see my training and subsequently my NHS employment saw me work in a team of exceptionally experienced midwives alongside really great Doctors. For me, a great Doctor/midwife is one who does not fear asking for advice from a peer. One who understands the role of a midwife and values that. I was trained to respect every other professional on the same level I was on and to understand their sphere of practice. But here, for midwives, bar a few normal individuals, our role is not understood and nor are we trusted to perform it to the best of our ability.

So I am out for now. I was becoming so completely disenchanted with midwifery in this country. I was struggling against things I cannot change alone. And I was close to hating it. When deciding to move over to Smart Fitness, a friend said plainly to me "you can't carry on like this". And he was right. I needed out to preserve my passion for this role and to attack it from a different direction!

So now I am practicing a different kind of midwifery. Because I have not nor will I ever stopp being a midwife. I don’t think I could ever stop being one if I tried. It is such a big part of me as a woman and as a professional. But to me the role of the midwife has to change due to the country I am in. I will now be found coaching pregnant women through their pregnancy and postnatal period. I will be found delivering Antenatal Classes in clinics across Dubai and doing home visits to new mums in a support role, amongst many other things. I will provide continuity and support and endless amounts of evidence to empower women to protect their birth rights and hopefully, bit by bit, change the culture of childbirth in the UAE.

After all, as midwives we become your family for that short time you are with us. You put your rights, your dignity and your loved ones in our care. And if we are not willing to protect that and fight for it (often to our own detriment) then don’t you think we are in the wrong job? I have just had to find a different way to fight that fight!

Nikki xx

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