Overdue: Birth, burnout and a blueprint for a better NHS
Amity Reed became a midwife to serve women, but the reality of working in over-stretched and underfunded NHS maternity services soon shattered her illusions. She’s not alone – for every 30 midwives that train, 29 will leave the profession.
Overdue is both the devastating personal story behind the statistics, and a call for change in the NHS. Real-life stories capture the moments at the heart of midwifery: life, death, birth, tragedy and joy, and are embedded in a clear-sighted examination of what is working – and what isn’t – in maternity services. The result is a book that asks – and tries to answer – questions that are at the heart of many people’s working lives: how can we follow our calling, provide for our families and keep ourselves healthy, if the workplace and its systems are working against us?
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As a student midwife at the start of training and about to embark on my first clinical placement, I opened this book with excitement, trepidation, and a healthy dose of fear. I learned a lot. Reed examines her personal experiences of working as a midwife in the NHS with the reasoning of a detached observer and bucket loads of passion and empathy. This combination means that from the off she is likeable, engaging and trustworthy. She considers the workloads of healthcare professionals and their managers, expectations and rights of parents, the desires of all and the system that they're navigating... An examination so thorough that Reed's key question has nowhere to hide: how can both midwives and their families be cared for and healthy when the game is rigged in no-one's favour? As a writer born in America, Reed knows first-hand what we in the UK have to lose with healthcare free at point of access. Her blueprint for change was my favourite part of the book - aspirational, inspirational, revolutionary, and achievable. I normally pass books along once I've finished reading, but this one's a keeper.
A realistic look into the world of NHS midwifery & the toll midwives pay to be "with women"
Overdue is also a love story to people who give birth, to midwives and other birthing professionals, and - despite its substantial failings - to the NHS as well. And ultimately, it's a love story Amity wrote for herself, allowing her to put on her own oxygen mask first so she can be "with women" in ways she never planned the day she decided to enter the birthing profession. Overdue is not just a much-needed analysis of the realities of midwifery, maternity care, and birthing within the NHS. It is an extremely honest, sometimes heart-wrenching, and deeply touching memoir by a woman whose calling to be "with women" as an NHS midwife landed her in a dark place due to systemic problems plaguing the national health service. The issues plaguing the system as outlined by Amity include how austerity measures and poor management not only prevent healthcare professionals from properly caring for their patients, but for themselves too. Amity is a powerful writer. Her prose pulls at your heart in a visceral way, providing a glimpse into the joys and the burdens of working in the birthing world during times of austerity and chaos. Overdue is witty and dry where levity and eye rolling is called for most – which is often in the birthing world. Overdue is also intensely moving and pain-filled in moments were compassion and outrage are needed most. This book has something for everyone....including some wonderful birth stories of course, but a whole lot more. It's a must read for anyone working in Healthcare or birthing, but also for parents-to-be, birth parents who've used the service before, and women who are struggling to keep it all together personally while pursuing their dream vocation.
Amity has a way with words like no other! Her vivid descriptions of motherhood, midwifery and agenda for change are truly remarkable. Every woman, childbearing couple, midwife, doctor and maternal-child practitioner needs to read this book and take on board her advice for the future of not only the NHS but maternity care globally!
An absolute eyeopener
An eloquent, descriptive and informative book which I find impossible to put down. Amity Reed carefully weaves her own personal story into the wider background of maternity care, providing statistics to support her arguments and capturing both the soaring highs and desperate lows of working as a midwife in the NHS. As someone who has been contemplating retraining and joining the profession I was both delighted and horrified by what I read. An incredibly important book and one which will hopefully have a huge impact. Thank you, this book has made a huge difference to me.