By Poppy Sanders
As I begin my maternity leave today, on the International Day of the Midwife, I cannot help but feel immense gratitude towards all the midwives out there. I feel so fortunate to have been surrounded by these incredible women throughout my life, who have been my constant support and guidance through every significant milestone, including my own journey through pregnancy.
My mother’s midwives, who delivered me and my brothers, have remained close friends with her to this day – to say this is an understatement; they’re more like a pack of mothers! Because of this, I have been fortunate to have such wonderful role models who are strong, hard-working, loyal and caring women. They have set a standard for me and have inspired me to be the best version of myself.
During my pregnancy journey, I have been amazed by the care and support midwives provide. From the very beginning, I have felt heard, understood, and looked after. They have explained every phase delicately, with great care and consideration, making me feel part of something big and wonderful.
With this in mind, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate International Day of the Midwife as I begin my maternity leave. This year’s theme, “Together Again: From Evidence to Reality,” highlights the importance of collaboration and evidence-based practice in midwifery. It also reminds me of the incredible midwives there for me during my birth 32-years ago, Karen Baker and Gill Walton. In honour of this special day, I’d like to take a moment to reflect with Gill Walton, now CEO of the Royal College of Midwives, on her impact and share her insights on the vital work that midwives do every day.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience as a midwife and how you got into the profession?
I was a nurse first, and I was inspired to become a midwife when I saw women demonstrating about not having choices during childbirth. My aim as a midwife is to support women to make choices that are right for them. Midwives help interpret the evidence behind their choices, explain the risks and benefits and then support the woman’s choice without bias.
What does the theme for International Day of the Midwife, “Together again: from evidence to reality”, mean to you personally?
IDM gives midwives the world over the opportunity to come together and focus on the important contribution they make to supporting women during one of the most momentous experiences in their lives. There is clear evidence that having access to a midwife is the one intervention that creates safer maternity care and better experiences. All women across the world need a midwife, and the experience you so clearly describe, Poppy – what an ambition for my profession.
In your opinion, what does the future of midwifery look like?
Midwives have been around for a very long time! My hope for the future is that governments and health services here and around the world will recognise the value of midwives, not just to deliver babies but as the conduit to empowering women to make better health decisions for themselves and their families. The future must hold more investment in midwifery, to have more midwives, better education, more research and midwifery leaders sitting side by side with the medical profession to influence change at all levels.
Finally, what message would you like to send to other midwives, maternity support workers, and student midwives on this International Day of the Midwife?
My message to all midwives is stand together, support each other and continue to make a difference for mothers, babies and families.
To all midwives out there, thank you for the incredible work you do every day. Your dedication, passion, and expertise profoundly impact people’s lives. I feel so lucky to have had your support and care, and I will forever be grateful.
A special thank you to the midwives in my pack – Karen Baker, Gill Walton, Suzanne Cunningham, Kim Allen and Holly Green.
Poppy Sanders, Alertive.