Last Friday, while traversing the corridors of the tertiary hospital where I work, I met a fellow midwife whom I’ve known for more than 20 years, though our paths seldom cross these days.
While she’s been self-employed for decades, providing care for women whose pregnancies are, for the most part, categorised as “low-risk”, I am a DHB employee, working with women whose experience of pregnancy and birth is radically affected by medical complications.
The rhythms of our day-to-day practice differ markedly, but at the heart of both is a commitment to offering skilled support to women through one of the most profound experiences of their lives. We each acknowledge the vital part the other plays, two among a variety of roles, all of equal value, which constitute midwifery as a whole.
Our meeting reminded me of how much this solidarity of purpose means to me; it is a saving grace when the pressures of working within the increasingly stressed and under-resourced public health system feel overwhelming and unsustainable.
My friend and I made the most of the opportunity to “vent” about how governments, hospital administrations and statutory bodies often make our work harder through ill-conceived laws, policies and regulations. When we parted company I felt fortified, and I hope that she did too. I consoled myself with the thought that while governments and their institutions come and go, the things that really matter survive and flourish in spite of them.
On International Midwives’ Day what’s on my mind is that women need midwives, and midwives need each other – that does not change. Let’s look after each other.