Audiobook Spotlight #8

It’s Monday again so it means it is time for another Audiobook Spotlight – the post where I talk about an audiobook that I’ve listened to and review it. I love audiobooks and enjoy listening to them on my commute and when I’m doing chores around the house. Although I’m not a big fan of babies and small children, I am fascinated by pregnancy and childbirth. I adore programmes like One Born Every Minute and Call The Midwife. If I wasn’t a little bit squeamish, or more inclined towards sciences, I think midwifery would have been a profession I would enjoy. So, when I saw this memoir on BorrowBox, I thought it played right in to my interests!

The Secret Midwife: Life, Death and the Secret About Birth by Katy Weitz (ghost writer)

Publication Date: 6th February 2020

Publisher: John Blake

Narrator: Gloria Sanders

Genre: Memoir

Format: audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Goodreads Synopsis

Strongest supporter, best friend, expert, cheerleader and chief photographer . . . Before, during and after labour the role of a midwife is second to none. The Secret Midwife reveals the highs and lows on the frontline of the maternity unit, from the mother who tries to give herself a DIY caesarean to the baby born into witness protection, and from surprise infants that arrive down toilets to ones that turn up in the lift.

But there is a problem; the system which is supposed to support the midwives and the women they care for is starting to crumble. Short-staffed, over worked and underappreciated – these crippling conditions are taking their toll on the dedicated staff doing their utmost to uphold our National Health Service, and the consequences are very serious indeed.

My Thoughts

CW: mental health, depression, medical procedures, infant death

The identity of The Secret Midwife is, indeed, a secret. We only know the name of the ghost writer and the alias, Pippa, that she is given throughout the book.

In recent years since Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt (which I highly recommend by the way), there seems to have been an explosion of memoirs about life on the NHS frontline. I sometimes fear that these will just be jumping on the bandwagon and won’t actually be that great; this book was not a disappointment at all and I loved it!

The first part of the book tells of The Secret Midwife beginning her training and qualifying as a midwife. There are plenty of interesting anecdotes. One I particularly enjoyed was her horror when she ended up delivering a surprise baby in a lift! These stories were heart warming, emotional and often humorous. Stories where people get inadvertently covered in bodily fluids at just the wrong time is almost always going to provoke a snigger and a cringe! Each anecdote really brought to the fore the important role midwives have in our health service, from antenatal care, bringing new life into the world, caring for new parents and also the compassion needed for those babies who are born sleeping.

The latter half of the book, however, changed its tune. The Secret Midwife begins to talk of the stress they face in an underfunded health service run by bureaucrats who do not seem to understand the need for compassionate care, and who are more interested in balancing the books. Like many other health care professionals, The Secret Midwife battles with burnout and depression. Just like Adam Kay’s memoir, the impact of an overstretched NHS is brought to the fore: I cannot believe that after reading these stories that anyone would be able to take our health service for granted.

This memoir was full of light and shade and very enjoyable to listen to!

Have you read any other good memoirs about the NHS? Let me know in the comments!


2 thoughts on “Audiobook Spotlight #8

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