Title: Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story
Author: Leah Hazard
No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers… Welcome to the life of a midwife.
Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.
Through her eyes, we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious, flickering life within her threatening to come far too soon; Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love until an enemy intrudes and Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the open door of Leah’s ward.
Hard Pushed is a novel I just didn’t want to put down, because the content – although not something I could relate to myself directly (I haven’t had any children or helped anyone give birth!) – and the stories and information within Hard Pushed’s pages are completely fascinating!
I loved reading about the different women (and their families) that author Leah Hazard has helped during her career, and also the shorter but no less interesting chapters on general musings or thoughts on being a midwife in the NHS today. It’s scary how much pressure is put on midwives and their teams with so little funding and support – and yet they do such an important and amazing job.
At times (in fact, a lot of the time!) it can be incredibly emotionally and physically draining, and this occupation – alongside of course nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals – deserves far more support than is given to them by this current government. It never feels overly preachy, though – Leah Hazard makes it clear that there are elements to the job which need to be changed or altered if they are to do help women and their babies to the best of their ability, but she strikes the right balance between being clear on these issues and also reverting back to interesting, sometimes lighter stories and annecdotes.
I raced through this in a matter of hours, and only wish it had been longer; I’d happily sit and listen to Leah talk for much longer about her experiences, or read further books by her.
Many thanks to Cornerstone for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.