I like many enjoyed the BBC drama series “Call the Midwife” that featured a group of Midwives in the 1950’s who worked in the Docklands region of London. It led me to reflect on the changes that I have seen during my career as a Midwife.
I became a midwife in 1986 and I am pleased to say that things have improved a lot since the practices that were in place then. I worked in a large Consultant unit that dealt with approximately 3,000 births a year. At that time women had their first stage of labour in one small room confined to a bed and often assigned to a monitor. When transition started to hit them and they began experiencing an urge to push, there was an undignified dash down a maze of corridors to the delivery room. This meant negotiating visitors to the labour ward, cleaning staff and unfortunate “New arrivals” in early labour that looked terrified at the prospect of what was ahead for them!
When, as a fresh faced Student midwife I enquired why women were not allowed to labour and deliver in the same room, I was told that the first stage of labour takes too long for women to spend it in the delivery rooms it would block them all!
Luckily things have changed for the better with Hospitals being much more homely in appearance on the Labour ward .With a scattering of beanbags, birthing balls and poolrooms women are afforded privacy and encouraged with active birth practices.
Also, more and more women are birthing at home in a calm, relaxed environment in a pool. Are we now keeping the best of the current developments in midwifery and combining them with the best of the 1950’s to develop individualised woman centred care.
Here at UK Birth Centres we would encourage you to contact us should you feel that you are not gaining access to your preferred model of maternity care. We offer you your own midwife, so that you need never feel alone or anxious and I am pleased to say that I am as enthusiastic about women centred care now as ever!