Reflecting on a very different International Day of the Midwife

By Kathryn Gutteridge, RCM President coronavirus Clinical practice Maternity Services IDM - International Day of the Midwife

This is probably the hardest time that many of us have had to endure and yet it has had some real surprises about the way we can use our time to reach out to others. The tragedy of COVID-19 has been felt within our midwifery family and though we are nowhere near as affected as some of our colleagues we have, like everyone, had cause to grieve and know the reality of this pandemic.

Midwives and maternity support workers are valued by the families that we serve but I have been struck by some of the praise we have been able to enjoy. In a video address [link here] HRH The Princess Royal remembered that International Day of the Midwife is usually a day where midwives across the United Kingdom celebrate the profession that brings us together. It was an uplifting way of our Patron reaching out to us and thanking midwives everywhere for the work that we do and especially at this time in circumstances never before experienced.

Last week should also have been a wonderful bringing together of midwives from around our four countries to enjoy the RCM Awards annual celebration. It never fails to impress me how midwives under the most difficult and challenging circumstances find ways to reach out to – and support – women and their families. The awards demonstrate this so well when we hear of the differences that our midwives, support workers and student midwives make to maternity services and our families. I always feel so proud of you all and love to greet you as you come into the beautifully prepared room so excited and full of joy.

This year was very different as our awards were announced to the world virtually. Although there may perhaps have been less of the physical excitement, I would say that your achievements are no less appreciated. I am overwhelmingly proud as your President to congratulate you all shortlisted and winners alike for all that you have done for our wonderful profession.

As President, I have visited many maternity units where midwives and MSWs have welcomed me into their ‘home’ and shown me the best of what they do. It is wonderful for me to see your pride and pleasure in the work that you do and often without a great deal of money or resources. This reinforces to me that the profession that I love is in good hands. Whatever the challenges that come our way, you find ways to overcome. I know that during this challenging time that you will have put your work first and your own needs second. I have seen the way that the public appreciate that sacrifice every Thursday evening as they show their love for you.

Being a midwife brings emotions of both joy and tears at the best of times, but during this enforced time of isolation I personally want to reach out to you all and thank you for everything you have done and continue to do in the name of midwifery.