Call the midwife

The BBC, I understand, has just had a hit with the television series Call The Midwife. (It was narrated by Vanessa Redgrave, which is surprising. I didn’t think she did popular TV.)

The series showed midwives bicycling round London’s East End in the 1950s, with comedienne Miranda Hart delivering babies single-handedly.

I think there is a danger that we can become a little misty-eyed about childbirth. Certainly when I was pregnant with Robin, I imagined labour as warm baths and scented candles with the odd mobile call from David (who was often, in those days, away on business).

But the whole affair, as it turned out, was far less dignified. There was a shortage of staff the night I staggered into the labour ward.  I seem to remember standing by the nurses’ station bellowing like a cow while a junior midwife threatened me with pethidine.

They say, don’t they, that the only important thing is a healthy baby.

Clearly, safe delivery of the child is of paramount importance.

But the health of the mother sometimes gets overlooked.

Personally I think that any woman with more stitches than a darned sock who feels, post-delivery, that she has been involved in a road traffic accident which has irreparably crushed all her vital organs is, perhaps, entitled to feel slightly aggrieved.  

No one expects labour to be trouble-free. But there should be enough hospital staff to look after the woman who is going through it, especially for the first time.

These days, it’s not so much ‘Call The Midwife’ as Call-the-midwife-and-keep-your-fingers-crossed-that-someone-turns-up.

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