I’ve heard that many aspiring and student midwives are concerned about the bullying culture. I didn't know anything about such culture before I started training but if I'd have read about it, I think it would have worried me too.
However, I hope I’m getting the balance right in these emails. There are phenomenal things going on in midwifery all the time. We’re lucky that able, wise, good people are drawn into midwifery and consistently work to make things better.
When I was a student we didn’t talk about bullying in these terms. I was treated not so well during one placement and I don’t think the word ‘bullying’ ever crossed my mind.
These days the discussions are out in the open and we have some sunlight on the issue. I’ve been accused of ‘airing midwifery’s dirty washing’ in public. The thing is, the most well-adjusted people I know are never that concerned about such things. They just start addressing the issues.
Negative bias means we will always see the bad things as more important than the good. This comes from our evolutionary history when it would be wise of us to run a hundred times at the sight of a shadow if just one of those times it turned out to be a lion.
When we hear stories about bullying in midwifery, it is a big problem but it doesn’t mean the minute you step onto the ward you’re going to be shouted at and find yourself sobbing in the linen cupboard. The majority of staff are amazing.
This process of change is going to be longer than our patience would like but when I think about midwifery, my mind immediately goes to:
- My friend Amy who listened to me rant the other day and told me she loved me before she hung up the phone
- A ward manager who has been practising for thirty years who without fail brought treats in every Friday (which she paid for herself)
- A Norweigan midwife who was semi-retired but said she’d always pick up her phone for questions about anything if it was really busy on shift and junior midwives needed guidance (to clarify, she did this even when she was not on call, even during the night and even came in on occasion last minute to help save the day)
It's still one of the best professions I've ever come across.
With people like this around, we don’t need to panic, we just need to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in.
Aspiring and very new student midwives are so very welcome at this conference. We want you to have the tools to change practice, right from the start. Welcome to the circus, we're so glad to have you!
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Info on the conference can be found here: The Kindness Conference.