International Day of the Midwife - Blog

May 5 is the internationally recognised day for highlighting the work of midwives. The International Confederation of Midwives established the idea of the 'International Day of the Midwife' following suggestions and discussion among Midwives Associations in the late 1980s, then launched the initiative formally in 1992. 

Clare Patterson is a midwife working at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Clare kindly agreed to write the following blog. We are proud of Clare and of all our midwives. Please feedback on this blog through Facebook or Twitter. We'd love to hear what you think?


May 5 is the internationally recognised day for highlighting the work of Midwives. The perfect time to pause and reflect on this remarkable career path I’ve found myself on.

I can recall the exact moment I set my heart to Midwifery. I was gven the gift of a brother at age fourteen and experienced the love that a newborn baby could bring to a family. I could then envisage no better way to spend my working day than sharing in a piece of that over and over again.

It is almost impossible to articulate, but here is my attempt on what I feel it is to be a midwife.

As a full time rotational clinical Midwife I work three or four 12 hour shifts a week. A healthy mix of Dayshifts and nightshifts on both weekdays and weekends come with the territory- as newborn babies do not yet keep to office hours. I leave for work either when my family is still fast asleep or settling down for the night, so I can care for someone else’s.  The responsibility is huge and at times can feel claustrophobic. You have to be on the ball, observant, ready for anything to happen and be prepared to deal with it.
You can sit down seven hours into a shift to document care and realise you haven’t yet been to the bathroom (is that what the backache is?). You can hide the hypocrisy when promoting a healthy diet to new mothers, when all you’ve eaten on shift is a handful of chocolates given by a grateful patient. 
So why do we do it?I do it because I find birth beautiful. There is nothing more wonderful than watching women become mothers and men become fathers. Knowing I played some small part in getting that baby into their arms safely fills me with pride every time. That look on a new mother’s face when she meets her baby for the first time and hears their cry can still draw tears. As I am currently working on the postnatal ward I find myself stalking for the grandparents first visit in order to see a glimpse of that same first look that makes my heart swell. A look reserved for all newborns, reflecting the hope and joy that they bring into this world. I am privileged and proud that I can call this everyday miracle of birth my work.
255 is the number of babies first held by me, how I wonder who they’ll be. Though not every story has a happy ending. Some shifts I will care for mothers that know they will birth a baby who will not cry. A deafening silence following delivery. This is the hardest part of my job and one which I never wish to become hardened to. I take comfort in providing the best care and support I possibly can for these families.
I am still learning every day from my women, from their families and from my amazing colleagues. I don’t think that will ever stop, nor should it. My first four years as a Midwife have been fantastic and, thinking back to the feeling I had when seeing my brother born, I was perhaps naive of its challenges, ignorant of its hardships but I was right about one thing. Midwifery is the job for me.