I‘ve talked before about how I think the culture in midwifery will be changed incrementally. It will take 10,000 or more small, courageous conversations and actions to help the good culture rise.
I’ve often heard the bee metaphor used when it comes to this kind of sustained effort. Every bee bring tiny bits of nectar back to the hive. Over time this adds up to about 60lb (27kg) of honey per hive per year, collected and stored by bees that each weigh about 120mg. It’s an amazing illustration of what can be achieved bit by bit.
This is great but I do want to explore something that can go wrong when we’re so passionate about changing things in midwifery.
The other thing bees do is kamikaze sexual reproduction. After they've flown up into the air, the male drones have to navigate the queen’s sting chamber, and they do this by grasping onto the queen from behind with all six legs, while keeping their wings beating. They then ‘evert their endophallus’ and once they’ve done this, they become paralysed and are flipped backwards as they ejaculate. The force of the ejaculation is so great that it’s explosive and their penis comes off. Then they die.
What I’ve learnt from this as a writer is not to follow insect metaphors too far as they're not that sexy.
The perspective I've gained that’s relevant to midwifery is that huge attempts to change the culture all in one go might be self-destructive.
I’ve heard from many excellent midwives who have made themselves extremely ill (mentally or physically) while changing midwifery. While I’m so grateful for these midwives and respectful of their efforts, I don’t think there’s ever a good reason for compromising yourself.
I’m speaking from experience here. I fully admit I’ve accidentally overcommitted and burned myself out on many projects and for many people; this is something I’m working on and as women I think it’s a trap we fall into far too easily.
To quote Sam from the film ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’:
'You can't just sit there and put everyone's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can't. You have to do things.'
If you’re stuck in a toxic situation right now, can you change this? Can you work elsewhere?
Can you schedule in film watching time, walks, coffee with friends, extra long lie ins once a week?
You’re worth an awful lot to midwifery but only if you’re healthy and happy enough to function.
This is a hard one I know. Believe me, I’m not trying to make the situation even harder by blaming you. I’m just concerned that midwives put up with too much, too often.
This topic will most definitely be addressed at The Kindness Conference, by those who have made a difference and learnt how to avoid damage.
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Info can be found here: The Kindness Conference.
P.P.S Forgive the terrible title here, but I really love puns.