Reflection: Midwife off sick – how it has felt

July 5, 2014

I have been off sick now since April 2014. My back finally gave in and it is apparent only surgery will sort it.  But hey, this has been an opportunity that I hope I have really taken advantage of.


My injury means that I cannot walk very far, cannot sit for long, and cannot stand for long. This in itself has been a challenge at times. The pain relief has also made me sleepy which has felt very strange.


But in this period of enforced time away from the clinical coal face I have been able to develop my skills in Twittering. This recently culminated in a Tweet chat with @WeMidwives concerning the topic of “hands on or off” at delivery. 

It was exciting to be involved with a controversial topic and to listen and respond to other people’s ideas.

Through Twitter I have discovered other midwives and mothers and I am engaging with them. They are from all over the world. I believe it really widens your vision of maternity care.  I honestly believe I would not have heard of many things that are happening in the NHS and Midwifery if I had not been connected to Twitter.

Through this medium I am also able to directly link to senior midwives in the UK. They are leading our institutions and making decisions on the future of midwifery.  I value their comments. I hope they value mine.  It is this flattening of the hierarchy that really excites me about the future.


I am also preparing for a month in Cambodia in January 2015. I am part of the RCM Global Twinning Project.  So during this enforced time off I have done more reading than I might about what it is like to work in maternity care in the third world and in particular Cambodia.

It will be a challenging month I am sure but I hope I can help in some way to try and push maternity care forward a little bit. I have been a Practice Development Midwife in the past so am able to share skills. 

I hope to learn about the women, who care for women at birth. I am open to learning from them too, to work with them where they are but to improve birth outcomes in the long term.  I feel privileged to go.  I am very against the wholesale importation of western medicine.  I am aware it is not all good.  I am also making the most of my time off to learn some of their Khmer language. Very challenging indeed.



It would have also been easy to put on weight whilst I have been off. Usually a very active person it has felt strange and extraordinarily frustrating not to be able to do yoga, pilates, be whipped into shape by my personal trainer or go walking on the hills.

But as the surgery involves me being flipped over onto my tummy once asleep I thought I would make it easier for the staff in theatre. I have now lost over two stones. I hope they appreciate the gesture.


I have also been doing more blogging. Having my computer tilted to one side whilst I perch on one side or the other has become an art.  Having better pain relief in the last month certainly has helped. But I believe I am finding my voice not only as a midwife writer but as a general writer.

I have tried hard to keep in contact with work, finally being able to access emails from home has helped. It has been very frustrating not to be able to fulfil my role and watch as deadlines are missed because I am unable to meet them. But the end is now in sight. Surgery is imminent. I will be back before they know it.



It could have been a very difficult time.  I am not saying it did not have very painful and emotional moments. But I believe it has enabled me to take a step back and look more globally at Midwifery and how I want to share my knowledge and skills in the future. 



3 Responses to “Reflection: Midwife off sick – how it has felt”

  1. Hi Helen, thanks for sharing. It is frustrating when we are used to being so busy and active and our bodies betray us. Sounds like you are making fantastic use of your time and not allowing the situation to drag you down

  2. lucciagray Says:

    You have certainly been through a great deal in the last months. Every cloud has a silver lining, and you’ve certainly found many things to keep you busy and motivated. I admire your dedication to your profession. Good luck with the rest of your recovery. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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