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Why wanting to know your midwife isn't an indulgence

The longer I work with pregnant women, the more I understand how fortunate

I have been.

I am one of the few women of my generation to have had consistent support through my child-bearing, from women I knew and who knew me. From booking appointment to birth (and beyond), they got to know me, my family, our values and the context of our lives. 

In May this year the NHS announced that funding to improve maternity services would be doubled to £40million p.a., and that the investment would be used to transform services to ensure that by 1/3 of pregnant women will be supported by a known midwife by 2020. This comes 4 years after the Implementing Better Births National Maternity Review, and the World Health Organisation's recommendation on midwife-led continuity of care. 

Why is continuity of care important? The results speak for themselves (reduced invention rates, reduced recovery time in hospital & fewer birth injuries to mothers and their infants, not to mention reduced levels of stress & burn-out amongst midwives working in this model). These are all objective metrics, and can be used to substantiate policies. Great stuff. 

But there's more to it than that. There are human rights issues here, of self-determination, of education & of discrimination. Becoming a mother, matrescence, is about more than 'healthy baby, healthy baby'. It's a transformation, and a rapid one at that. There's a lot of pressure to 'mother well', to produce happy, healthy, intelligent children who will conform enough to maintain society & challenge just enough to effect useful change. But women are expected to rise to this challenge without a coach, without a cheerleader, without someone to ask the right questions, sign-post to information & to encourage and inspire. 

So. I wonder, who among you felt you had appropriate continuity of care? Who saw the same midwife all the way through their ante-natal appointments, and who knew the midwife in the room when their baby was born? 


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