I am a midwife. An experienced, skilled, compassionate and dedicated midwife. I have held the hands of thousands of women as they embark on their journey to motherhood.
I have facilitated the safe birth of hundreds of babies. I have broken the worst news a parent can hear, and have been there for the hardest, most heart-breaking day of their lives. I have held the babies born sleeping, wrapped them in love and shared the grief.
I have literally saved lives and spent hours washing blood out of my clothes, skin and hair. I have taught more parents how to change a nappy and to bathe a newborn more times than I can remember, and empowered them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
I have assessed the medical health and wellbeing of countless newborns, diagnosed congenital heart conditions, identified life threatening illnesses and disorders, and sat with parents for hours in the Emergency Department holding their hand.
I have supported women to ensure their baby thrives in the face of discrimination, family pressure and cultural norms.
I have wiped the tears of the new mother who believes she is failing and turned this around to make her feel proud.
I have sat with women when they are suicidal and losing their identity to keep them safe from crippling postnatal depression and psychosis.
I have recognised child neglect and abuse, found a safe place for those escaping domestic abuse and to provided care in the homes where I knew I could come to harm.
I have spent my own money in my own time on grassroots projects to empower women to take control of their menstrual health.
I have missed Christmases, birthdays and weddings.
I have missed countless nights at home with my partner and slept in my car because I was too tired to drive home.
I have worked for days without food, water or bathroom breaks.
I have spent years studying and training whilst being on full time clinical placement to achieve my registration, and educate myself every day to maintain this and to provide evidence-based care to everyone I meet.
I am a midwife and I am childless.
My own journey with infertility and menstrual ill-health has been a long and painful one. I have held this pain in my heart while providing excellent maternity care. My inability to have a child was not of my choosing.
What was of my choosing and my ability was to ensure that every single woman, family and newborn had the highest quality of care, and had the most positive experience possible, that they felt empowered and validated in making informed, individualised choices about their healthcare.
Does a psychiatrist need to have had every mental health illness to be able to empathise and support a patient back to health?
Does an oncology nurse specialist need to have had cancer to be able to understand the impact the disease has on the patient’s life?
Does a rehabilitation physiotherapist need to have had a leg removed to understand the amputee patient’s phantom limb pain?
The answer is obviously no. So why then, is there the ongoing assumption that a midwife can only be competent if she herself has had children?
I was deeply saddened to see the Brenda Edwards interview on Loose Women and to witness the prejudice that continues to run unopposed.
As we approach the end of 2019, the time has surely come where we must not judge the professional by their own lived experiences, and respect that experience, knowledge and evidence-based practice far outweigh any personal attribute.
I am proud to be an infertile, menopausal and childless midwife. The fact that my uterus never actually grew a child of its own did not, and never will have any impact upon my ability to provide the very best care to women throughout their lives.