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.