As we begin easing out of lockdown, hopefully, for good this time, we want to pay tribute to our key workers. We were delighted to hear again from former pupil and NHS midwife, Lisa Milner-Smith (class of 1993), who kindly shared her experience throughout this difficult year.
As a community midwife, this last year has been full of changes. Most notably the extra masks, gloves and aprons coming between us. Midwifery is such a ‘hands on’ job, I miss the contact and reassurance I could give. It is simply so much more difficult to communicate with half my face covered.
I have been surprised over and over again at what people look like when I finally see them in their own homes, sometimes without their mask on. It has been challenging limiting who can attend appointments and asking people to wait outside – if I’m not at the birth then often the first time I meet the partner is at home afterwards when, prior to the pandemic, we’d have met at parent education classes or appointments. So many questions must be going unanswered and I’ve made time for so many heartbeats to be recorded on people’s phones… “just so they can hear it”.
However I have also seen benefits. Clients speaking more freely, relief on their faces when their partners are invited in, beautiful births and midwives facilitating couples being together as long as they can. New families relieved at the lack of visitors and time to recover. Babies creating secure attachment and gaining weight well.
It has been a hard year, but so full of rewards. Maternity, in my experience, has been saved from the worst of the pandemic by the wonderful people we’ve cared for. My heartfelt thanks go to them for their understanding and the confidence they’ve placed in us as we’ve navigated these unknown waters together.