Review of ‘Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story’ by Leah Hazard

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.

 

19 thoughts on “Review of ‘Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story’ by Leah Hazard”

    1. Yes, exactly! It’s a tough job and I could never do it. Midwives get a bad press sometimes and this book should help to challenge that.

  1. Just the thought of childbirth makes me feel sick so I think I’ll be giving this one a miss, even though it sounds very sensitively written. Great review!

    1. This book isn’t for everyone, it certainly doesn’t hold back on any details so I understand why you won’t be reading it! Thanks 🙂

    1. Thank you! It’s an important book which I’m glad has been published (with the advantage that medical themed books are popular right now) – it won’t be for everyone, however.

  2. Thank you for this thoughtful review! I spent two years training to be a veterinarian but dropped out because I couldn’t cope with the emotional pressure and stress, so I am very interested in the human/emotional side of medicine. It must be even worse for midwives where human life is at stake, and it’s great that your review acknowledges how their role is often underestimated. This book sounds fascinating – it’s gone straight to the top of my list! ?

    1. You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed the review! I could never be a midwife or a vet or any other role which could be so stressful and emotionally draining, so I do admire people who are able to do the job but I also understand why it would be too difficult. I hope you like the book if you get hold of it 🙂

  3. I am seeing medical memoirs all over the place at the moment, it seems to be on ‘trend.’ I’m interested in some but not all types but I like watching ‘One Born Every Minute’ and this sounds like the book version of that!

    I have a friend who was a trained midwife and she did it for a number of years but in the end gave it up to work in the corporate environment. It was a combination of struggling to work for an organisation like the NHS and the difficulties she had with its organisation/ efficiency and when things went wrong she really took it hard because, as she pointed out, there’s nothing more tragic when you lose a baby and/or mother especially when everyone is just waiting for one of the most joyous moments of their life.

    I couldn’t do it and I commend the midwife’s that do!

    1. I think ever since Adam Kay’s book became popular, medical memoirs are having their moment! I prefer not to watch programmes about birth but I don’t mind reading about it. I think there is a lot going on with the NHS and it must be really hard to stay there. Midwives will always have the problem of feeling responsible when things go wrong, even in cases where it wasn’t their fault, and it wouldn’t matter when or where this happened because it’s a part of the job. Thanks for your comment 🙂

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