Publication Date: 2nd May 2019
If you know me and my reading habits, you will know that I don’t read masses of non-fiction. That’s not to say I don’t read any (I actually wrote a blog post about my non-fiction reading here) but when I do, it’s quite often a book with a medical bent.
When I saw Leah Hazard’s book Hard Pushed (Hutchinson) my interest was immediately sparked. I have birthed a child………in fact I have birthed two, and I had two quite different labours. I won’t bore you with the deets! I knew i’d be interested to learn about the midwives roles, not only in pre-natal care and labour itself but also in post-natal care.
Leah Hazard has been a midwife for some years and Hard Pushed takes you right back to the rigours of her years of training, the anxieties around setting foot on her first shifts and ‘catching’ actual babies, right up to the present day where Leah is still a practicing midwife. Of course there are many stories in between!
Leah gives a little introduction before each chapter, detailing the subject she is about to discuss or the story she is about to tell, they are often entitled ‘Notes about:’ I thought this was a very nice touch. The various subjects Leah tackles include, the struggles with language barriers and communication, women who ‘shouldn’t be having a baby’, gravely ill women, women who struggle post-natally, still births and death and a myriad other labour stories all showing the strength and determination of women in the face of adversity and sometimes life and death situations.
Some of the stories Leah tells will stay with me forever. Each of the women’s stories are individual, deftly and sympathetically told. I almost need to know how they’re getting on now, particularly the case with a young girl named Crystal who’s story is not fully played out to its conclusion.
Leah almost plays a peripheral part to these women’s stories and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way at all. She is adept at telling a story, recounting her memories but making the women the central focus. Allowing them to take the forefront and portray their various troubles or successes.
There is no doubt that midwives do an extremely demanding and important job. I knew this before i’d even opened the book. However, Leah gives a very in-depth, sometimes shocking picture of just how stretched the NHS is not only in the area of midwifery but all departments in general. There are times when the hospital has to literally turn away labouring women and send them to hospitals in the surrounding areas because there simply aren’t enough beds or enough staff to care for them. Leah is often rushed off her feet during her shift, but that phrase seems a little asinine and doesn’t do the real situation justice. There are times when Leah and her colleagues do not get a break, can’t even grab a drink or a mouthful of food or even go for a quick toilet break. Leah does address the fact that an awful lot of midwives are on anti-depressants, a number of them quit the job within the first year or two and she herself tells a story of when she simply felt so ill and anxious that she had to walk out of the department and go home for some rest.
This book really opened my eyes to how tirelessly these midwives work. The adrenaline inducing situations that they are placed in and the anxiety of what lies ahead at the start of each shift. They have such a huge responsibility on their shoulders, the like of which I cannot really comprehend.
Leah comes across as such a lovely person and a wonderful midwife. Caring, compassionate, going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that these women have as safe and comfortable labour as possible. I would have loved her as my midwife!
If you have an interest in childbirth/medical memoirs and a behind the curtain look at the NHS then this book is for you.
There are of course some heartbreaking stories and some tough subjects to read about but I think Leah’s stories and the stories of these women need to be heard.
Thank you very much to the publisher for my advanced review copy.
See you soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xx