This is one of the most interesting and informative books I have read.  After two contrasting experiences of giving birth, Amity Reed became a Doula.  Her involvement in maternity compelled  her into training as a midwife, for her this was  a vocation.  She loved the job but became increasingly disturbed at the mixed, and often, deteriorating  standard of care at what should be the happiest day of a woman’s life. How fortunate were women who had this wise and kindly nurse assisting and encouraging them through the birthing process.

It is not all that long since a wee woman from the village, untrained, was called on to deliver babies at home.  Now it is safer with more medical intervention when required and an increase in choices, not necessarily always wise.

A well written book with history,  humour, and enough pathos to bring a tear to this reader’s eye. The stress placed on midwives is well documented and certainly shocked me.  A ward with around thirty women and babies, needing reassurance and medications, manned by two midwives who are also expected to monitor those in labour is not unusual.

As the writer comments, the people who manage hospitals are not on the front-line so  are unlikely to witness the strain on the mind and body of someone working a twelve hours shift in a severely understaffed hospital,  a cereal bar tucked in their uniform in the hope you will get time for a snack.

Brought up in America Amity Reed rates the NHS highly and embraced her work wholeheartedly but the reality of what she witnessed saddened her and she is among the many on whom the pressure took its toll.It is not uncommon for nurses to be diagnosed with the equivalent of PTSD.

The contrasting emotions aroused by birth, death, joy and grief is raw and vexing.  A truly gripping book that I could not put down that pulls the reader into its hear. The writing flows from start to finish and held my attention throughout, beautifully written as one would expect from a former journalist.

With the present virus crisis this is a well timed book release with a most apt title.  I knew hospitals were short staffed but I had not realised just how severe the situation is and there are few signs of change. This is a must read despite its worrying theme, highlighting increasing pressure on the staff of  the NHS, surely one of this country’s greatest assets!

Review by Sheila Grant

pinterandmartin October 2020
ISBN: 978-1-78066-410-1

Personal read  5
Group read      5