Blogging as part of life, and how to do it responsibly as a midwife

I post carefully on here. There are certain guidelines (here and here) for acting online if you’re a midwife.

Ahmedabad, India

There’s stuff in this blog, especially here that some people might say is ‘whistle blowing’, i.e. not having breaks for hours – but these are not things that are new; midwives and nurses, supervisors, clients, and anyone else who’s had contact with the UK National Health Service will know these situations exist. There’s a fantastic scene in ‘Outnumbered’, a dry, British comedy about being parents, in which an NHS doctor tries to have a little sleep up against a wall because it’s been so busy. These working conditions are known about.

The only whistle blowing i do on here is to encourage people to move. Don’t stay in the same city with the same job for 20 years; it’s so easy to do other enriching things, which will make you into a better person, with  a more enjoyable time on the planet. And guess what? Working abroad or taking on a new outside challenge will also make you into a much better healthcare professional.

It wasn’t until I had done a placement in India, Ahmedabad , that i realised how fortunate we are with our NHS, and that sometimes you have to make a snap decision based on scant information and gut instinct to do good, something which had an instant, positive impact on care i gave. And it was so easy to organise and go.

As for the ‘upholding the rep’ of my profession rule, i think reporting the mammoth effort that midwives do for big cities in the UK, often to the detriment of their health and happiness, is reputation enhancing. Someone wise taught me to only praise if at all possible, and although i don’t live up to this anything like as much as i should, it’s what i endeavour to do on this blog.

There’s also the confidentiality issue. ‘Navelgazing Midwife’ posted on this a few days ago, on what i assume are American/Canadian rules on this kind of thing. She mentioned a woman once recognised herself on her blog from the care she gave, and suffered because of it.

The thing is though, midwifery/medical narratives are how professionals learn, and the internet is a good tool for sharing.  The issues to consider are all basically the same as Hippocrates': ‘‘What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment… which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.’’ You have to be able to trust your doctor, or midwife, or there would be chaos in care.

When i write about women, i change names, days and times, but also often hospital location, sex of the baby, outcomes, and anecdotes are copied and pasted from other experiences. I change almost everything about my experiences, and just give a flavour of the kind of things that happen. It’s midwifery stock, but you can’t recognise the individual ingredients. Sometimes colleagues are more identifiable to their close friends, but never by name, and as i’ve said before, never in detrimental terms, never about specific practice.

Does this make what i write less valid? I don’t think so. I get my own feelings over honestly, and try never put myself in a better light. My midwifery stories are true; i’ve just changed the beginnings, middles, and ends.


4 thoughts on “Blogging as part of life, and how to do it responsibly as a midwife”

  1. I’ve been asked, over the years, why I don’t create composite women, tell generic stories, but I am a horrible creative writer. I can’t write a story to save my life, but am a good storyTELLER. I am able to relate the moment by moment unfoldings, but trying to do it the way you do it would have closed my blog in the first 6 months. I admire you that you can do it this way. Lucky you!

  2. Thanks Barb, how complimentary! I wonder if you’d be better at fiction than you think, as being articulate and writing well is something you’re good at. Maybe all those years i’ve spent reading fiction were good for something after all..

  3. Believe me, I have tried to write creatively and fictionally, but fail miserably. I wrote a book of erotic short stories many, many years ago and it was supposed to be fiction, but… ahem… wasn’t so much. The one truly fiction story ended up a clone of “The Color Purple.” I knew then how bad I was at it. Have tried in school, too, but everything ends up stream of consciousness/blog-style (before blog-style was a style!). It’s part of why I can’t get published for anything; my writing just isn’t publishable. *shrug* Just the way it goes.

  4. Ah, I see. Fair enough, we all have our talents. Publishing is a fickle, strange thing though i always think..Have you thought about self publishing online anything you believe is good, as an e-book? Al Humphreys, who is a brilliant, cult classic non-fiction writer, reverted to self-publishing and prefers it. Then the readers get to decide what gets popular.

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