‘It’s a strange thing, watching someone cross over into the shady world of pain, and it’s an even stranger thing to find yourself willing them to make that journey.’

It’s hard to really comprehend what goes on day in and day out on the frontline of the NHS, but, thankfully, a collection of recent books have shone a light on the amazing work that goes on in our hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. Leah Hazard has written a memoir based on her career as a midwife, and BooksfromScotland caught up with her to hear more about her experiences.


Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story
By Leah Hazard
Published by Hutchinson


You have been a midwife in the NHS for a number of years. What made you decide to write a book about your experiences?

I realised from the earliest days of my training that the goings-on of a maternity hospital are stranger, more wonderful, more entertaining and more moving than fiction. I always fancied writing something midwifery-related after my retirement, but my decision to write Hard Pushed was motivated by a growing love for my profession and an equally strong sense of frustration at the constraints of an under-resourced health service.


You probably had too many amazing stories to fit in one book! How did you decide what stories you wanted to tell?

Every midwife can remember the events that really moved her, no matter how long or short her career may have been. I made a list of the women whose stories had really stayed with me, and chose the ones that I thought would move the reader and also illustrate the breadth and complexity of my role.


There’s been a few books recently about working within the NHS. Why do you think readers are so fascinated about the day to day experiences in the health service?

The human body is a site of endless mystery, and the practitioners who understand and treat the body have assumed almost mythical, magical status. At the same time, people are aware that those very same practitioners are human, and I think it’s that humanity that readers find captivating. We are so lucky in this country to have the NHS, and I feel very privileged to be part of an institution that continues to capture the public imagination in this way.


What did your fellow midwives feel when you told them you were writing this book?

I have to admit that I was a bit scared to tell my colleagues about this project; midwives are an opinionated, passionate bunch! I needn’t have worried, though. On the whole, my colleagues have been delighted that I’m trying to show the world how hard we’re all working, and under such difficult conditions. There will always be midwives who don’t feel that my experience represents their own, and that’s fine, too – our diversity is part of what makes us special.


Hard Pushed doesn’t shy away from revealing some hard truths about the NHS. Are you optimistic about the future of healthcare? What would you like to see changed?

I have to be optimistic – the alternative is too depressing. We need to recognise and respect the pivotal role that midwives can play in public health. Our profession goes beyond cuddling babies and holding women’s hands, and once the complexity and value of our role is understood, then perhaps we’ll get the funding and institutional support we need to provide a better service.


Now that your book has been published, will you carry on writing?

Absolutely. Book Two is outlined and ready to go on my laptop…watch this space!


Hard Pushed: A Midwive’s Story by Leah Hazard is published by Hutchinson, priced £16.99

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