Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Independent Midwifery and snow Part II

Posted on: January 13, 2010

Well, the snow continues, but so does work … I did cancel a non-urgent appointment that was an hour’s drive away, but other than that it is business as usual.

I admit that it is daft to go out unnecessarily, the roads have been dreadful at times and I have been mighty glad to get home some days, but most days the roads are fine if you exercise caution and drive slowly.

On Saturday night I was just going to bed when I received a call from a concerned father-to-be.  His wife was in early labour and they planned a homebirth.  When he called to request a midwife to attend he was told that homebirths were cancelled due to the weather conditions and that they should make their way into hospital. 

The man was distressed that they might need to change their plans and angry that the NHS was letting them down.  Okay, so there was a little snow on the ground, but the main roads were clear and he felt that it was an excuse.

Fortunately a friend suggested he give me a call and I was able to go out to them.  I got there without difficulty, and was able to spend the night with them.

I appreciate that we have to consider the safety of the health professionals – but we also have to consider the safety of the mother and baby – a baby born unexpectedly en route to a hospital would not be good in present conditions!

I am happy to say that I went to see the couple yesterday and mother and baby are doing fine.  I came away clutching a bottle of champagne, so I think they were pleased with me!

5 Responses to "Independent Midwifery and snow Part II"

Speaking as an NHS midwife………if she was in early labour then it would be unlikely that she would deliver en-route to the hospital, as you said you spent the night there. That aside, I know that in our area, fairly close to you, our roads were impassable, not just for midwives in ordinary saloon cars but also ambulances. So even if one midwife had managed to get there there is the question of safety should an emergency transfer be required. A decision has to be made as to circumstances really; has it stopped snowing; do the parents have a 4 wheel drive or does the midwife; is it feasible for the 2 midwives to travel together?
The Trusts have a duty of care and if they send a midwife out in dangerous driving conditions they are risking not only her safety but also a large legal battle if there is an accident.

Hello, yes I take your points, but the woman had previously laboured quickly and expected to give birth quickly … the roads were quite clear and it wasn’t snowing … I realise that conditions are difficult but in fact the father had offered to collect the midwives in his four wheel drive. Without going into too much detail I do feel (and so do the family) that they were let down.

Perhaps I am also a little guilty of “artistic license” in trying to make an interesting article – I know you are doing a great job too!

[…] Have just been reading this blog by an independent midwife in my area:…t-ii/#comments It is an article about how midwives continue with their work even in the snow. In it she describes […]

If it is too dangerous for a midwife to attend, then it is most certainly more dangerous to put a woman in labour in the same position ? Wonder what the litigation status would be if they had crashed en route to the hospital after being let down at the last moment?

I am so glad they managed to get the safe one to one care they deserved in their own home at last despite being let down so badly and at incredibly and unacceptably short notice! No doubt their community midwife knew homebirths had been cancelled and could have contacted them so they had time to make alternative plans if they did not wish to risk a hospital birth?

Women are often told it’s “too late” to book home births, presumably in labour is not too late to cancel them though!!

[…] Independent Midwifery and snow Part II January 2010 4 comments 4 […]

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