This week I have seen midwife burnout rear its head more than a few times. This is an issue close to my heart and one I dedicate my research to on a daily basis. Being a registered midwife and having practised through turbulent times myself, I know how it feels to give all that you have and yet forget to put yourself first at any time. You become a burnt out midwife, unable to give the highest quality or safest maternity care.
Here’s how it may happen…
The recent National Maternity Review highlighted that midwives were more likely than any other professional group to report feeling pressured at work. Also, levels of staff stress in the NHS are the highest of any sector and staff consistently report a lack of compassion shown to them from leaders and managers within their organisations.
I find this incredibly sad…. We want to care so much for women and their babies…yet we fail to care for ourselves and each other.
@MidwivesRCM work-related stress guidance cites one of my paper’s, which claims that “Midwives are entitled to a psychologically safe professional journey”… This is wonderful to see…but will we ever see midwives being cared for in equal partnership with the women and families they care for?
A colleague of mine recently noted that ‘as soon as we say that patients come first…we immediately devalue the staff’….
This got me thinking….and writing this blog post.
In the midwifery news this week:
I have come across the following articles in one way or another…
The experience of professional burnout can be one of extreme personal pain which some midwives feel they may never recover from. Despite global recognition of the destructive phenomenon of burnout, midwives may not understand what was happening to them. They can feel judged as managing their practices poorly, experience isolated feelings of shame, and feel unable to disclose their escalating need for help.
My 3 latest papers have addressed the issue of midwife burnout and psychological distress in great detail…I shall be publishing more shortly… for further reading see:
Pezaro, S. The midwifery workforce: A global picture of psychological distress – ARTICLE
Pezaro, S., Clyne, W., Turner, A., Fulton, E. A., & Gerada, C. (2015). ‘Midwives overboard! ‘Inside their hearts are breaking, their makeup may be flaking but their smile still stays on. Women and Birth. In press.
Midwife burnout is rarely understood…Yet one thing is clear, we really do need to find new ways to support each other and look after ourselves for the benefit of all midwives working within midwifery profession, and the families we care for.
This week I will continue to write my systematic literature review which aims to identify the nature and existence of interventions designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress, and their effectiveness at improving the psychological well-being of midwives.
Once this is complete, we will be one step closer towards effectively supporting midwives in work-related psychological distress.
Until then, look after yourselves…and each other.