I've just finished reading the following fascinating account of working life as a UK midwife.
What it made very clear to me is that it's all too easy for us to criticise the lack of breastfeeding support available to women in UK hospitals. This real life account of the realities facing midwives goes some way to explaining why so many UK women quit within just a few days of giving birth.
With two sisters who are nurses I have no doubt every word of this account is true since I've seen for myself how stressful working conditions can be for those employed by the NHS.
Thankfully, I had no real problems breastfeeding but I've met far too many mothers over the years who've told me they wanted to breastfeed but their births were just too traumatic for them to follow through with their plans.
I know what these women feel like as I had a particularly traumatic birth with my last baby and had flashbacks for several years following his birth during which I was so drugged up that everything seemed completely out of my control.
Thankfully, after my son's birth I was left alone with him for a few moments whist the midwives on duty wrote up their notes and by breastfeeding him I felt very sure I was back in control.
Anyway, here's the story. Don't forget to let me know your thoughts on this and whether your own breastfeeding plans went out the window because of the birth you experienced or the lack of help afterwards.
Clutching her husband's hand and with agony and exhaustion etched on her face, a young woman struggled into a room in the maternity unit where I worked.
She was in the early stages of labour with her first baby, she was terrified, in excruciating pain and desperate for any crumb of support.
Helpless beside her, her overnight bag in his hand, her poor husband looked equally traumatised.
My heart went out to them. But I knew there was little I could do. With five other pregnant women to care for at the same time, all with hugely different and complex problems, I was rushed off my feet and didn't have the time to look after her properly, to allay her fears or to hear about how she wanted the birth to unfold.
I longed to sit with this poor young woman, calm her and remind her gently to breathe deeply through each contraction.
Just half an hour of my time could have made all the difference. Instead, I put on my cheeriest smile and followed hospital procedure. 'Would you like a painkiller?' I asked.
Ten hours later, after she had been drugged to the eyeballs to dull the pain, I heard she'd given birth.
Her baby was healthy, but I knew I'd let her down.
As I watched her being wheeled into the ward, I felt eaten up with guilt. She'd effectively been ignored from the moment she turned up until the moment she gave birth.
Plonked on an antenatal ward until her time came, with no one to reassure her during what was most likely the most terrifying moment of her life.
No woman should have to give birth in these conditions - let alone in a modern hospital with professional staff at hand.
Welcome to the modern NHS maternity ward. A world of shoddy practice, poor hygiene standards and a shocking disregard for patients' individual needs.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1235921/Midwives-meltdown-A-NHS-worker-reveals-understaffed-maternity-wards-sinking-chaos.html#ixzz0Zl3UW0Sl