The latest in the current trend for medical memoirs, Hard Pushed is a compelling and emotionally engaging account of what it’s like to be an NHS midwife. This is an important book which emphasises the value of midwives and explores the reasons why so many of them are leaving the profession. It’s no spoiler to say that they are indeed ‘hard pushed’.
By turns shocking, amusing and sad, Leah Hazard’s narrative is so vivid that it’s guaranteed to stay in your head long after the book is finished. I’m glad I’ve read it, even if some of the content was upsetting. Not limited to the topic of safely delivering babies, other topics are included, such as people trafficking, FGM, depression, anxiety and interpreting. There is so much involved in being a midwife, particularly in under-resourced NHS hospitals in today’s diverse society. It’s a constant challenge to provide decent care for babies and parents. The strain on midwives’ mental health is considerable too and I admit I never considered that before.
I liked the author’s writing style. It was easy to read and she even provides a glossary at the end. Her love for the patients and her dedication to the role are evident. I suppose that having had children myself increased my interest in this book and also desensitised me to some of the gruesome details. Different readers may have different reactions. There was the potential for birth ‘horror stories’ to dominate, but to Hazard’s credit she includes as many easy births as difficult ones.
In summary, this is a wonderful and gripping book which will bring tears to your eyes and give you a new appreciation for midwives.
Thank you kindly to the publisher Random House UK for the advance copy via NetGalley. This book will be published under the Hutchinson imprint on the 2nd May.