A student midwife’s view
As a student midwife these stories do make me sad but I can see, coming into the system, how new midwives soon become trained into the current culture and the cycle continues.
As a student, maternity placements can be daunting and all you want to do is fit in and make your mentors so they sign you off with good feedback. Whilst there are many times when I can see women agreeing without fully informed consent and I would love to call it out, I also don’t want to gain a reputation as a “trouble-maker”, the midwives often talk about students as if we’re not here, we hear them complaining when we question their way of working and some of my cohort have been given bad feedback if they disagree with something, even if it’s a perfectly valid point to make.
As a new student, doctors especially can be intimidating and often don’t acknowledge us in the room. They come in, make decisions and leave; I find it almost impossible to question a doctor; if you talk about intervention-free pregnancy and birth they look at you as if you are crazy. I believe they don’t see enough “normal” deliveries to support women who disagree with them (after all, the doctors don’t get involved with low-risk women so they never see a fully physiological, empowering birth).
So by the time three years have passed and we have qualified, we are often fully immersed in the culture. Those students that don’t fit in I see already talking about going independent or working in birth centres where they don’t get involved in what I see as the big problem areas, labour ward and consultant led care.