“That Was Your Midwife”


Last night I was doing that incredibly modern thing so many of us seem to do nowadays, namely half watching TV with my laptop on my knee.

What I was half watching was the new detective show with Brenda Blethyn. At one point she is in the car with her side-kick; a young detective whose wife is pregnant. He is driving and she is answering the calls coming in to his mobile. Increasingly irritated, she answers a call rudely, but quickly goes quiet and listens, puts the phone down, turns to him and says, “That was your midwife, your wife’s waters have broken”.

This made me stop and ponder. I have been a doula for a decade and have supported A LOT of women through their NHS care and I have yet to have heard a story like this.

If we assume that the wife is still at home awaiting the onset of labour, what community midwife is likely to have been with her and offering to ring her husband. Anyway, surely the mother herself would have called?

It’s the use of the phrase ‘your midwife’.  can’t recall the last time I had a client who felt in any way that she had one (or even 2) midwife/ves she could call ‘her own’. What is sadly much more routine for me is to listen to clients tell me that they are yet to see the same midwife twice during pregnancy.

And if she’s in hospital or at home labouring, why wasn’t the midwife telling him to come? And why hadn’t he been notified earlier?

I’m afraid the only realistic scenario I can imagine is that it was an Independent Midwife who just happened to be visiting and therefore knew the husband well already and therefore had his mobile number. That would explain the phrase “your midwife”, because an Independent Midwife commits to a couple, supports them throughout the pregnancy and builds a relationship with the whole family.

So, it made me sad on two counts: that I couldn’t quite jump to the conclusion this was an NHS midwife (even though I know loads of WONDERFUL ones) and that once again, TV is lazy when it comes to presenting pregnancy and birth related storylines with any kind of veracity.

It’s time we stopped taking this kind of care for granted and support the independent midwife model of care – we know it improves outcomes, both physical and emotional. Only then might this fictional scenario ring true.

May 5th is International Midwives Day. Let’s all do something to support midwifery so they have the freedom to build one-to-one relationships with mothers and families; so all mothers can be supported by a known midwife, both antentally and during labour.

For more information about International Day of the Midwife, see The Royal College of Midwives



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