2 May 2019
My thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my ecopy of this book
No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers… Welcome to the life of a midwife.
Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.
Having been a student midwife some thirty-plonk years ago I was fascinated to see if modern midwifery had moved on from my own time when midwives were overworked, underpaid and undervalued, and I am chastened to learn that in the intervening years since I took my first terrifying steps into the mysterious world of obstetrics, it would seem, however, that nothing much has really changed. Midwives still go without sleep, manage without a decent meal break, or a restorative cup of hot tea, in order to give the best possible service to a specialty which has always seemed to be the forgotten part of the health service.
I was immensely privileged to train as a student midwife and very proud of helping into the world brand new human beings, and I found that the same sense of pride and absolute commitment to duty comes across in Hard Pushed. The author has such a wonderful self-deprecating style, and absolutely tells it like it is, from the frustration and sheer slog of hard work, to the absolute joy, and yes, sometimes overwhelming heart break, but throughout the book all aspects of life are shown to be there, quite literally, warts and all.
I flew through this very readable book in the space of an afternoon, enjoying a well written memoir which put everything about what's happening in today's modern midwifery service into context. The descriptions are absolutely spot on, from the sick making terror of attending a complicated childbirth, to the absolute overwhelming pride in having an amazing skill which is so very precious and yet, so often undervalued.
There are several specific accounts of individual patients which the author encountered, and these are handled sensitively and compassionately and yet, they remind us so vividly of just what midwives are dealing with on an hour by hour, minute by minute basis. The author does use specific midwifery terminology and so, for those not familiar with obstetric jargon, these are explained at the end of the book.
Hard Pushed takes a look at our modern day maternity services by a midwife who has worked at the business end and who brings this specialty to life in a very passionate and thought-provoking way.
About the Author
Leah Hazard grew up in the United States and graduated from Harvard University before moving to the United Kingdom to pursue a career in journalism and the arts. The birth of her first child promoted her to change direction; she is now a midwife and continues to promote positive change in the maternity services
Twitter @hazard_leah #HardPushed