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21 Secrets Midwives Will Never Ever Tell You

We really have seen it all. Quite literally.

1. We get annoyed when people think all we do is hold a woman's hand during labour.

Obviously we do give emotional support, but we have degrees and are medically skilled. We put in IV drips, top up epidurals, give insulin infusions, take blood, and stitch up skin in the most intimate places you could possibly imagine.

2. You never get over the sense of wonder.

Being the first person to touch and hold a new life is breathtaking. No matter how long, messy, stressful, or tiring our day is, delivering babies never loses its wow factor. Contributing to a child's journey into the world is a truly magical feeling.

3. Seeing parents "get born" is amazing too.

4. And we live for "the look."


That is, the look of wonder on a woman's face when she sees her baby for the first time. It's what makes absolutely everything worthwhile, and it's why our jobs don't put us off having babies of our own. We know the sheer joy and immediate love women feel when they first hold their baby, and we want to experience that.

5. The feeling of responsibility is enormous and scary.

Flickr: usarmyafrica / Creative Commons

And that's especially true when you first qualify. Suddenly realising that you're holding the life, health, and wellbeing of more than one person in your hands is daunting, and all the training in the world can't take that feeling away completely.

6. We think all babies are cute.

When you say "isn't he/she beautiful?" and we say yes, we genuinely mean it. There's no such thing as a funny-looking baby in our eyes. We know they come in all shapes and sizes, and we've seen every shape and size there is.

7. And we steal cuddles with them whenever we can.


We don't often have time, mind you, but when a new mother offers you her baby for a bit of a smoosh, who can resist? Also, one of our favourite parts of the job is that unique "new baby" smell. They should make it into a car air freshener.

8. Women are overly terrified of pooing during labour.

Channel 4

We can't stress this enough: We really don't mind, we're used to it, plus it's just a fact of life. But some women worry and fixate on it to the extent they don't push effectively, which can make labour last longer. In short, please just poo.

9. Some partners can be total jerks.

Taking selfies, wandering off, being bad-tempered, and, of course, playing Pokémon Go (this guy was OK, though, as his wife found it funny). Sometimes you want to tell the woman in labour that she'd probably be better off being a single parent. But of course, you don't. You just tell her partner off instead.

10. We get yelled at all the time, and threatened often.

Bsip / Getty Images

Mums in labour swear, shout, call us over constantly, and make lots of demands, but that's all fair enough. What's worse is when women and their partners become physically aggressive, which happens more often than you think.

11. You develop intense, deep relationships with people in a really short space of time.

Channel 4

You see people at their worst, but you also see people at their best. Even though we're rushed off our feet and have to split our time between dozens of women, we always feel privileged to be part of such an important day in their lives.

12. Premature births are extra challenging.

We usually have to spend quite a long time calming these upset mums down. Outcomes for premature babies are often good, and being distressed won't help them cope with childbirth. We try to keep things as positive as possible.

13. We're at our busiest in autumn.

Christmas and New Year excesses lead to a big spike in the birth rate around September, and we end up run off our feet. So if you don't want a new bundle of joy just yet, don't forget to take precautions at those festive parties.

14. We sometimes have to remove babies at birth.

Flickr: salimfadhley / Creative Commons

Unfortunately not everyone is suitable to be a parent. Sometimes women are subject to a court removal order, meaning that you have to help social workers remove the baby, and comfort the mother. Also, some babies are born addicted to heroin or other drugs and experience withdrawal, which is always hard to see.

15. Our shifts are long, and we rarely finish on time.

16. We get virtually no breaks.

Channel 4

We usually don't have time to have lunch, or more than one drink in 14 hours. We never sit down for more than five minutes, and that's only if we're really lucky. Basically, we're always knackered, footsore, and hungry.

17. We have to deal with the constant threat of losing our registration or being sued.

Channel 4

Things do go wrong during birth, especially as we're dealing with an increasingly unhealthy population. A midwife's registration is in our own hands, and in challenging situations, some days you'll feel like you've kissed it goodbye.

18. Pregnancy doesn't always have a happy ending.

If a baby is stillborn, it's always a tragedy. We always take careful care of these beautiful babies, wash and dress them, take photographs of the parents with their baby, write a name tag, and create tiny hand and foot prints that they will treasure forever. These things help to make a terrible situation a tiny bit more bearable.

19. We cry a lot.

Sometimes they're tears of joy, sometimes they're tears of exhaustion, sometimes they're tears of worry, sadness, and frustration. No one said being a midwife was easy, but the majority of us didn't expect it to be quite so hard.

20. We often have very little left to give.

Lifetime / Channel 4

It's deeply emotionally draining to support mums in labour, and if you're on a long shift you're often too exhausted to have much in reserve by the end. Occasionally you'll feel like you can only give basic support, which doesn't feel great.

21. But we can't help coming back day after day.

Bsip / Getty Images

We'd be lying if we said we didn't occasionally think about quitting, especially after a really tough shift. But the majority of us wouldn't move away from midwifery. We'd miss "that look" way too much. Not to mention all the cuddles.

This post was compiled with the help of an NHS hospital midwife. Also H/T