Student voice: Striking a chord

By Sarah Scarlett on 07 March 2018 Student midwives Midwives Magazine

Sarah Scarlett resolves never to forget the voices of the women in her care.

Every year, third-year midwifery students at the University of the West of Scotland organise a conference. This year’s theme was ‘Women’s voices’, and speakers ranged from breastfeeding support workers to those with moving accounts of loss and bereavement.

One woman’s story made me reflect on the type of midwife I endeavour to be. She spoke about being let down by her caregivers. She detailed the many emotional obstacles she faced throughout her pregnancy: an absent partner, the death of her mother. Then the simple act of holding her baby was denied to her by a midwife after her pregnancy ended in an emergency CS.

As she pointed out, a woman shouldn’t have to ask to hold her baby, and her anger was still palpable in the hall full of students. I felt angry too and wished that someone had had the courage to stand up for her rights.

Listening to this woman galvanised my resolve to do the best for every single woman in my care and inspired me to write this poem.

Sometimes it’s hard To remember who you are
In the hustle and bustle
Of a labour ward.

You’re tired and weary,
Feet are sore and eyes bleary.
But when something’s not right,
We should fight!

A woman wants to hold her baby.
She’s told, ‘Not now.’ ‘In recovery.’ ‘Maybe.’
She wants to feed but there is no support.
The excuse of ‘Too busy’ the clipped retort.

She’s told, ‘Be happy with what you’ve got’,
But the trauma she feels is making her rot.
We’re then surprised when depression arises.
Was her mental state worth all those compromises?

Is this why we’ve chosen this respected profession?
To dismiss, ignore and suppress without question.
The time is now for us to reflect
As to why we are here and what is it we want?

It’s all far too easy to let stress drag you down
And nod in agreement with coffee room doom.
But now is the time to make all this stop.
Please don’t give up.
Be confident...

For you are a midwife
You care about rights
You want to empower
And Yes. We. Should. Fight.
For the woman. The mother.
A love like no other.
For her moment. Her bond.
So special and strong.
A lifetime of memories are created right here,
We must make them count, and not disappear.
The future is now.
It’s time we stood firm.
Let’s all work together.
Let’s make ourselves proud.

Sarah Scarlett is a second-year student midwife at the University of the West of Scotland. The mother who inspired Sarah will tell her story in a future issue of Midwives

RCM Mid soc Grant offer

The RCM Midwifery Society Grant of £250 can be used to help organise and host events like the University of the West of Scotland’s annual conference. To fund your society’s events, you can apply today. More information can be found in our Student Midwifery Societies section.