From Birmingham to Liberia – one UK midwife’s journey
My name’s Suzanne. I’m a qualified midwife in Birmingham and have been practising midwifery for 10 years.
I’m calling on the UK government to take action and ensure that, like me, midwives around the world receive the proper training and continuing educational support to ensure they stay updated throughout their career. And that they get the funding they need to ensure women are not forced to give birth alone or unassisted.
I became a midwife because I want every woman to have the best possible experience in childbirth. I’m passionate about midwifery.
The word midwife literally means ‘with woman’. I can’t imagine a job that is more rewarding than being able to support a woman through one of the most challenging, anticipated and life-changing times she will ever face.
A midwife’s role is to be a confidante, an advocate, and a constant and reassuring presence throughout a woman’s labour, offering advice, encouragement and comfort when her body instinctively takes over. And to make her feel like she is the most amazing woman in the world for birthing her baby.
I’m in such a privileged position to be able to be one of the first people to see a newborn baby. Most women only have two or three children and will always remember that one midwife who helped them through one of the most vulnerable times of their life.
In February this year I visited rural hospitals in Liberia. I saw for myself the challenges faced by midwives who don’t have the sort of equipment and training that I use everyday without thinking.
There’s one doctor per 100,000 people in Liberia. In the UK there’s one doctor per 365 people.
That’s food for thought.
I work hard as a midwife. It’s a challenging but ultimately very satisfying job. And I’m privileged to work within the NHS.
Visiting Liberia opened my eyes to the challenges that midwives and other health workers face in countries not as fortunate as ours. It forced me to look beyond my own working environment and comfort zone, to see that other countries have difficulties specific to them.
I’d like to see the government look at where investment is needed and use it specifically on things like training and education. I’d like to see them invest in raising the status of health workers, making them all professionals on an equal footing.
Time for action
I’ve taken action for the UN Summit in New York this week, to call for more health workers because I believe that this really will make a difference in saving lives.
Hear me speak about my work as a midwife in the UK and experiences in Liberia in this recorded interview.