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'This dangerous political situation risks the health of thousands'

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As huge changes in global politics impact on healthcare both abroad and at home, midwifery student editor, Anna Merrick, reflects on what these changes might mean for midwives and the women they care for

Not many midwives like the sight of meconium stained liquor. It is a potential indicator of fetal distress and can initiate a cascade of transfers and obstetric-led care.

It arouses uncertainty and suspicion.

Nobody seems quite clear on what exactly they are apprehensive of, but apprehension remains in the air.

“We can’t quite see our feet and at times the swell is so strong that we start drifting away”

The same goes for the current picture of midwifery/healthcare in the UK. The waters surrounding us are blurred and dirty. We can’t quite see our feet and at times the swell is so strong that we start drifting away. We’re not sure what threats or events lie ahead of us, but the darkening water that we are standing within is disturbing.

There is something foreboding about it, something sinister. We keep on wading through it, but every step forward is soon lost in a massive black wave and we’re pushed back into the mud again.

The waves come in different forms. Of recent, they take the shape of authority. On 13 January, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) announced that the indemnity insurance provided by IMUK, used by a number of independent midwives across the country, was inappropriate, and concluded that until rectified, all midwives using this insurance would be unable to practice.

Women already under the care of these midwives were left with little option but to arrange alternative support, leaving them both physically and emotionally vulnerable – something that the charity Birthrights strongly and rightly highlighted in a letter to the NMC. It is incredible that a regulator, defined by its ability to safeguard the public, was able to sever the ties between women and their caregivers so abruptly.

“Current popularity in right wing, conservative politics poses a greater threat to international women’s health”

This is only the tip of the wave. Current popularity in right wing, conservative politics poses a greater threat to international women’s health and maternity services than first meets the eye.

At home, our government literally refuses to admit that the NHS is in crisis. You only have to turn on the BBC’s latest documentary ‘Hospital’ and simultaneously scroll through Hunt’s redundant, propaganda-fuelled Twitter feed to figure that one out.

We. Need. More. Money.

Has anyone even sat through one of those episodes without wanting to punch a wall/build their own hospital/give up their bedroom for a patient? Oh wait. No. Except for Hunt. He just switches over to The Simpsons and happily counts his £17 million.

“Who, in their right mind, would pay a minimum of £27,000 to become a healthcare professional now?”

Did I mention that someone decided to add a massive pot of Deluxe Ultra-Opaque Jumbo XXL paint to the murky mix by removing the NHS bursary? I’m sorry, I know this is old news, but loads of us are still asking the question: who, in their right mind, would pay a minimum of £27,000 to become a healthcare professional now?

As if the water wasn’t unappealing enough, over on the other side of the lake, the reproductive rights of women are being jeopardised. In fact, the reproductive rights of some women still don’t even exist. I saw a disturbing tweet the other day that highlighted the fact that we’d never see a boardroom of women signing legislation that governs the rights of men and their reproductive organs. How is this even a thing? The amazing and empowering swell of thousands upon thousands of people across the globe at the recent Women’s March shows that we won’t just sit down and let this be a thing.

“The whole structure of our world is wobbling”

In amongst all the upheaval and confusion of being a student, the whole structure of our world is wobbling. If the world were a laboring woman, and the sea was her amniotic sac, the words ‘MECONIUM STAINED LIQUOR’ would be plastered all over the clinical notes right now.

As midwives, students, feminists and humanists, we will do our best to support this laboring and groaning world regardless. Because that is what we do - we are good at making the best out of meconium stained situations.

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