I would not have wanted to be a heavily pregnant woman yesterday, Monday 13th October, 2014. British Midwives were on strike. As if all the usual horrors of birth aren’t enough – how about the prospect that without trained medical professionals you would be far more likely to die?
Until very recently, childbirth was the leading cause of death among women. Not poor women, not old women, but all women. Then along came three wonderful saviours; modern midwifery, modern hospitals and at last the contraceptive pill. The likelihood is that our mothers mothers live to see us grow up today because of modern medicine and modern midwives.
Why, then, do midwives have to stand outside the hospitals where they work, striking and demanding our attention for us to value them? What is wrong with our society that midwives are not valued? In an NHS that still pays its administrators top whack, the hard working women and men who do night shifts, who stick their hands in all the places no one else wants to stick them to bring a child into the world, who work tirelessly, have to beg and protest and suffer for pay they can even live on.
If that’s not the symptom of a sick society, I don’t know what it. Since when did administration and pencil-pushing become more important than the lives of women? And let’s face it, that’s what’s been reckoned with here. And I’m not saying midwives are the only NHS workers paid badly (all nursing staff, for a start), but what I am saying is that it’s symptomatic of a society in which women’s lives are not the priority. In which we matter so much less that those who save our lives the most – the midwives, who endure so much and work so hard – are valued among the least by hospital administration. By the government.
So I for one could not be more behind the strikes. It’s high time we valued those who care for us when we are at our most vulnerable. I’m for the NHS, I’m for fair treatment for nursing staff, midwives and care staff. And if you’re not, you need to be looking in the mirror and asking yourself seriously why not?