Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story by Leah Hazard

I don’t read very much in the way of non-fiction, and this book has me wondering why the heck not! Not only did I find it a riveting read, but I found it really inspirational too.

Hard Pushed is part-memoir and follows the career of the author, Leah Hazard from her student days right through to present day as a fully qualified midwife. Chapters focus on cases of specific women, all of which in turn educate the reader on some element of the midwifery system. These chapters are then interspersed with ‘Notes on….’ chapters, which are essentially musings, opinions and anecdotes, either as a way of introduction or just because of its relevancy.

As a Mum of two (5 and 1) I can remember having my children very clearly. Midwives are goddesses sent from some fantastical being as far as I am concerned. Every single one I encountered was wonderful. I had two very different births; my first was very traumatic to the point where my husband thought he was going to lose us both (and my body felt as if it had lost a wrestling match with a tank), to my second where my daughter arrived in less than an hour and I was so undamaged that I felt perfectly normal just a day later. Those midwives who cared for us were just everything, and this book did nothing to dissuade me from this opinion. Quite the opposite in fact, I only hold them in higher esteem in the knowledge of what challenges they face.

The author’s narrative voice is incredibly likeable and held me captivated throughout. She brings home her point about the shortfalls of the NHS Midwifery service by demonstrating just how varied their role is, how much they are relied upon and the sacrifices they make. I love how unflinchingly honest she is, and how despite the frustrations and the limitations, Leah and other midwives like her and so incredibly committed to their job, and for doing the very best for women and their babies when they need them the most. I was concerned that it was going to be a very negative read and just a book which essentially moaned about how terrible things are – but it achieved transparency whilst remaining (on the whole!) positive and upbeat, which I feel made it all the more successful.

From the first to the very last page I was utterly captivated; I have laughed, I have cried and I am left with an even deeper respect for midwives and the wonderful jobs that they do. Truly inspirational – I highly recommend.

Synopsis

No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers… Welcome to the life of a midwife.

Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.

Through her eyes, we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious, flickering life within her threatening to come far too soon; Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love until an enemy intrudes and Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the open door of Leah’s ward.

Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, Hard Pushed is a love letter to new mothers and to Leah’s fellow midwives – there for us at some of the most challenging, empowering and defining moments of our lives.

*I received an ARC ebook via Netgalley. The decision to read was my own and this review forms my honest opinion.

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