Strike! Why Midwives Matter


This morning I took part in something I feel very strongly about. I joined my fellow colleagues shoulder to shoulder in the pouring rain to strike. This is the first time in 133 years that midwives have taken industrial action. Us Midwives saw our pay frozen back in 2011, frozen again in 2012, before it rose 1% in 2013. On average the typical midwife’s pay had risen in line with prices since 2010, we would be paid over £4,000 more per year than we’re actually getting. What we’re really asking for is just a 1% rise. Yes that’s all, 1% and to make this point we were on strike from 7am to 11am this morning.

Midwives really do love their jobs, in fact it’s more than just a job (ask anyone married to a midwife). As fellow midwife Pam Ward describes today ‘Midwifery is a busy but fulfilling profession, and the care of women and their babies is paramount to us all. This is why my colleagues regularly work over their hours to meet the needs of the service. Most work very unsociable hours and many are on-call overnight, going out at a moment’s notice to give care to women in labour or at other times during their pregnancy or postnatal period. This is what the job demands, and we love it.’ I wouldn’t give up this profession because I believe all women deserve excellence in midwifery care, something the NHS is striving to do. Staff work flat out, often staying late and doing large amounts of unpaid overtime, as they try their hardest to give women the best possible care they can,” said Cathy Warwick of the Royal College of Midwives. “After years of stress, pressure and overwork, being told they face another year of rising bills – but static pay – is just too much.”

And it doesn’t sit well when I hear politicians claiming there’s no money left in the pot to accommodate the proposed 1% when these politicians got a 10% pay rise!

Within my little but amazing midwifery team yesterday, 3 midwives managed to safely deliver 3 babies. 1 in hospital and 2 at home, that’s 6 lives in their hands. I won’t go into detail if any of these midwives got a break yesterday but I do know one quick thinking midwife hailed down a Police van to to take to her to one home birth quickly, and she just made the birth.

I’m not here to dissect the down sides of our profession so to end on a positive note, my fellow colleagues have described why they love being a midwife. And as I sit here with my soggy placard drying on the radiator, I stare at my pager in anticipation as at any moment one of my women might need to call their midwife.

Seeing how amazingly strong and funny women can be. Oh and drinking a lot of tea. And driving home at dawn after a lovely birth feeling on top of the world!’ 

Making a difference regardless of the circumstances‘.

The unpredictability of each day.

The joy of seeing students become midwives at the end of a course’

To be a part of the most intimate journey in a woman’s life and to be trusted with that journey is such a privilege. To witness the miracle of birth and motherhood is a dream come true. I hope I forever love my job!’

Being privileged to share in the most awesomely intense time of a woman’s life, being reminded how amazing women are on a daily basis,  feeling supported and respected by my wonderful colleagues’

Being part of such a special journey… Giving support and encouraging through good times and bad’.

Tucking a couple up in bed in their own home with their baby. Seeing the strength of women to deal with what is thrown at them when things go far off script. My amazing midwifery colleagues who teach me, inspire me and humble me on an almost daily babies’. Wow that’s some pretty inspiring stuff there from other wonderful midwives out there.

16 thoughts on “Strike! Why Midwives Matter

  1. Go you! You deserve the pay rise, in fact, you probably deserve the 10% pay rise that those stupid politicians are getting. You work much harder than them on a daily basis. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  2. Sorry but couldn’t disagree with you more. I work in banking and haven’t had a penny in pay rise since 2009, and that was the princely sum of £109. A year.
    no one is “entitled” to a pay rise. The sooner striking is outlawed the better,

    • I wrote a huge response to why you are utterly wrong and out of line, but frankly it isn’t worth it.

      Clemmie, I agree with everything you’ve written. After just a year I’ve already had an insight into how bad things have got; talking to the midwives who have been in my Trust for a few years, they say it has been going downhill for the last three years. Something has to give because people are going to keep dying if it carries on like this.

    • Wow, what a ridiculously ignorant comment! I don’t think this is anything to do with “entitlement” (because let’s be honest, having recently given birth and had Clemmie and the wonderful Lanes midwives as my carers, they deserve to be paid significantly more than me or any other banker I have ever come across), this is about being paid a fair wage based on the cost of living.

      I have absolute confidence that no woman or baby will have suffered as a result of the strike. However I do fear that if the government continues to treat people who have such essential roles in such an unacceptable way the future is quite bleak.

  3. A banker complaining about his pay was he expecting sympathy as we are all paying for the mess bankers got us into. Can he tell us how his job helps to contribute to society and why he deserves a pay rise, when his bonus would probably be more than most midwives earn annually

  4. Clemmie, I couldn’t agree with you more and bravo for making a stand.
    Midwifes deserve more than a 1% pay rise for what they do, for going above and beyond the call of duty and more often than not with detrement to their own families.
    I wonder if the people that have disagreed with you have had the honour of being looked after to the exceptionally high standards I received in an nhs birthing centre?
    I think you guys are worth your weight in gold.

  5. I’m sorry but I disagree with striking completely I understand how hard midwives work (although the care I received when I gave birth was shockingly bad on all levels) however to get annual salary increases is very lucky and private sector workers and many others get no such thing even though the cost of inflation rises each year, public sector workers think they are entitled to get a annual pay rise when in fact a huge majority of people don’t have them and to strike is wrong I think it should be outlawed.

  6. Midwives deserve double the amount they are payed. It’s total injustice and disrespect having to strike for a 1% increase. I wish you and your colleagues the best of luck. Xxx

  7. Striking, outlawed? who are these people?Are we supposed to feel sorry for them not getting pay rises? No? Good.
    It is just not ok for midwives, nurses etc (I m a nurse/health visitor) to not get a pay rise in line with inflation and for the MP s to get a 10% rise. Infact its a disgrace. I will be working to rule today to stand up for what is right.
    I had the most incredible care when I had my baby, my midwife was by my side the whole time, I put trust in her that I never thought possible. She took control when I couldnt and reassured me all the way. I didnt have a birth plan, what s the point in planning the unplannable? but I had faith in the NHS and its magnificent midwives to safely look after me and deliver my baby. I still think of that midwife. I often think people s expectations of the perfect birth and the disappointment when they dont get it colours how they see the incredible teams we have in midwifery in the UK. Open your eyes people (and bankers) we are so lucky to have the health care we have and the staff in it who should not (but do) get taken advantage of by the goverment.
    Up the strikers!!!

  8. Lucy, personally I think you’ve made a huge, misinformed comment. Being a midwife involves training for three years, to gain a professional qualification to a degree standard and then we must maintain that professional qualification every year by keeping up to date with research and our competencies in order to keep the women in our care safe, secure and happy, thus ensuring babies are also born into the world, happy. This goes for antenatal, labour and postnatal care. Also we have to provide, in no particular order; preconception care, bereavement care, specialist care (diabetes, obesity), lifestyle care, screening care, drug and alcohol care, domestic violence care, care to vulnerable women, social services support where we attend case conferences and many, many other areas of care to women, babies and their famIlies. We do all this by training hard and then working hard, we work over and beyond our remit to provide the best possible care so this includes working unpaid overtime and not our taking breaks. When a woman we have cared for in labour, is near to delivery and it’s 16.55, I don’t switch my computer off and pack my bags. I think of seeing this woman through to the end. Anything after my shift ends, is unpaid and often goes without a thank you from my superiors. I do it for the woman. Yes it was my choice to be a midwife and yes it’s my choice to stay on and provide care but why should my choices that are based around the principles of midwifery continually be expected and unappreciated? All the while MP’s clock on at 9am, clock off at 5pm and are reportedly receiving 10% pay rises. Surely you can see that our Midwifery care is worthy and most certainly “entitled” to a 1% pay rise?

  9. good on you ill back the midwives every time nurses to you all deserve a pay rise.i couldn’t do the job id love to .you train for years for what to fill in endless paperwork instead of been allowed to do what you trained for.

  10. Well done! in a society where no one would be entitled to a minimum pay rise and striking was outlawed, there would be no NHS midwives either and most women couldn’t afford to give birth with your support! Thank god we don’t live in that society!

  11. Pingback: Why midwives matter | Relational Welfare

  12. I could not agree with you more. Let’s not even say anything about the 1st idiotic comment. My midwife gave me the birth I wanted to the letter and I will forever be thankful and grateful. You, in fact, checked us out as our midwife came off shift just before we left Kings! Midwives deserve far more than 1%. X

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