Panic attack

  • The REAL reason I left NHS Midwifery

    Autumn 2020…I was running a busy NHS antenatal clinic day. I was behind and feeling the pressure to catch up and it wasn’t even lunch time yet.  30 minutes to ensure the wellbeing of mum and baby (blood pressure, urinalysis, fundal height measurement etc) as well as discussing fetal movements, birth preferences, infant feeding, mental health, covid anxieties, domestic abuse, safeguarding….with the number of appointments being reduced due to covid restrictions and new guidelines and procedures I felt like I had so much to cram into such a short space of time (and I know some midwives are only allowed 15 minute appointment with their clients!?!) What if I missed something important? What if I didn’t tell them what they needed to know to help them prepare for this powerful and transformative experience of growing their family? 

    Most days I felt like I was on a covert operation working under the radar.  Borrowing 5 minutes here to give an extra 5 minutes there, sharing my knowledge and experiences of REAL midwifery and childbearing. About the power of the human body. About the sacred and transformative rite of passage into parenthood. I loved it, I really did but it felt like a lot of pressure. I was desperate not to slip into just covering the basics to be safe and professional, as I knew I had so much more to offer than that and that those in my care deserved more, they ASKED me for more, but I was done sacrificing myself to try and give more in a system that didn’t encourage or promote it.  I thought “how does everyone else manage to do it?” Then I had a massive realisation. They’re NOT doing it. 

    There are so many midwives in self preservation mode right now and its crippling them. Emotionally, spiritually and physically. They are suffering with compassion fatigue, conflicts around having their core values being compromised time and time again, anxiety, stress and burnout. This is not just the midwives working on the ground but those in middle and senior management too. Everyone is struggling in their own way but the root cause is the same. 

    They are having to deal with ongoing chronic short and unsafe staffing level, longer busier shifts, poor work/life balance, increasing complexity of care and processes, bullying,  poor support…the list goes on and on…..

    None of us came into this profession to work like this. 

    So many phenomenal midwives leave the NHS daily as they are not met with the compassion, level of autonomy or flexibility they need to thrive.  They have to get out even though it breaks their heart. And those who stay? Well, some get worn down over time, feeling defeated. They become just another cog in the machine, taking home their salary and counting down the days until retirement. 

    Some look around them and conclude that everyone else can manage, so it must be something innately wrong with them. That they don’t have what it takes to be the midwife that they know they are inside (which made them answer the sacred calling of midwifery in the first place). This eats away at their self esteem and confidence, increases their need for external validation and drives fear of failure and rejection and leaves them feeling stuck and powerless. They stay but are waiting for their breaking point. 

    Then there are some who have a gut feeling they can help themselves and things can be better but maybe just don’t know HOW. 

    They are done with having their voices muted. 

    They are done with playing small. 

    They are done with diluting themselves to please everyone else. 

    They are done with being at the bottom of the priority pile.

    They are ready to discover and bring in change. 

    Now to do this takes time, it’s not a quick fix. It take’s courage and vulnerability. It means having boundaries and holding yourself and others accountable to them. It means being a leader by example and being prepared to ruffle some feathers. It means holding up a mirror to yourself and being prepared to go deep or go home and keep on fighting. 

    I know so many wonderful birth workers who have already answered this call to arms but it will take more of us. Some are doing in under the radar like I was and more and more of us are doing it loud and proud. KNOWING that things cant go on as they are. 

    The real reason I left a contracted post in NHS midwifery was because I knew I had a vision of how things could be and I wanted to have the time and personal freedom to share it with others for the benefit of all.  

    I was done with hearing about and feeling the fear and frustration of other midwives. I wanted to help them see WHY they had those thoughts, emotions and feelings and how they could channel it to help them to realise THEIR truth and help them to own it. 

    I wanted them to rediscover their inner power and their potential. That they could step back into the leading role in their own life story and that it wasn’t too late to start a new chapter. 

    It’s not that you’re not good enough my lovely. It’s that you’re a round peg being forced into a square hole and I say enough is enough.  

    What do you think?

    If you’re already in a leadership position in maternity services and what I’ve said resonates with you, then why not get in touch to see how we can support your team together through my 1 day group workshop? Click here to find out more.  


  • Self Confidence and self esteem – what’s the difference and why does it matter?

    Have you ever considered the difference between self confidence and self esteem? Take a moment to reflect on it now. Many people use the terms interchangeably but I believe not knowing this difference is keeping us from making progress in our career and life in general.  


    Confidence is about trusting our innate qualities like intelligence, talents and physical beauty. It’s our belief that we can evaluate and deal with things and handle our abilities in a self assured way.  It’s the side of you that you show to the outside world, even if it’s a mask you’re wearing as you’re actually pretty terrified. You can fake confidence and often people won’t be able to tell.


    Self esteem however is different. Esteem is the lens through which we view ourselves, our self image if you like. It’s the value you place on yourself as a person and your recognition of your skills, qualities and achievements and acceptance of your flaws and weaknesses.  We need to be able to value ourselves and in turn allow others to value us too. 

    You are inside your head 24/7. You can’t fake high self esteem as it’s at the very core of you and sets the tone for your whole life. If your self esteem is low is has a negative impact on everything, puts limits on your hopes and dreams and makes your head a very miserable place to be.


    People with low self esteem often struggle with self doubt, anxiety, poor personal boundaries, lack of self worth and negative self talk. 

    We all need self esteem to function but often we maintain it at this low level by constantly telling ourselves how rubbish and incapable we are. We then feel bad about ourselves and often seek external validation and praise from others that we’re good enough or doing a good job.  

    The more we don’t feel good enough the more we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough. 


    To ensure you are able to build and maintain your self esteem at a healthy level you need to look inside yourself rather than outside. 

    Think of your self esteem like a mobile phone battery. It’s much easier to take the charger wherever you go so you know you’ll be able to keep it functioning than to just keep our fingers crossed that the battery lasts or that a friend or colleague will have one they are prepared to lend you.


    A wonderful consequence of high self esteem is our self confidence improves, our fear of judgement and criticism reduces and we feel more resilient and in control of our lives. 


    3 quick tips to help you boost your self esteem everyday: 

    • Think of 5 things that you are proud of about yourself and really let yourself feel it

    • Challenge any negative self talk 

    • Focus on the effort you are putting in rather than the end result



    During my 8 week 1:1 Midwife Sparkle Method Programme I help you understand about what motivates you, how low self esteem is formed and maintained and how to improve it to ensure it is ever replenishing! I show you how to keep your battery full of charge and how to show others how to keep theirs charged up too.

  • New beginnings – Finding the missing puzzle piece and peace with my birth experience.

    April is caesarean awareness month. There’s a good reason why it took me until the very last day to acknowledge it. On a personal level caesarean birth wasn’t something I wanted to acknowledge, as to me this meant failure. My failure. 

    I want to be very clear here that this in no way means that I believe that those who have had a caesarean birth are failures. To choose to lay on an operating table and have a skilled obstetrician cut you open and bring your baby earthside is, I feel, an act of pure maternal love. I’ve met lots and lots of people who’s baby ended up being born by caesarean and the way that each one of them feels about this is different. Some have chosen it as their preferred mode of birth in pregnancy and are confident it is the right choice for them. For others a situation arises in labour which means that a caesarean is deemed as the safest choice and necessary to save the mother or her baby and they are still coming to terms with this. However your baby comes into the world and however you feel about it is valid. 

    I want to tell you my experience now. Its taken me almost 3 years to get to this point. Where I feel at peace about how my little boy came into the world. I used to describe his birth as traumatic and its taken me such as long time to figure out why I felt that way.

    I was a midwife when I became pregnant so I knew all about labour and birth and I quickly started putting things in place to have the birth of my dreams. I hired an amazing doula, Vanessa, to support both my husband and I, and I was gifted a birthing pool from a wonderful friend, Gemma. I wrote my birth plan, made my ‘birthing nest’ in our spare bedroom and started to look forward to giving birth in the comfort of my own home. I was a healthy first time mum and with a healthy baby on board-I though I had covered every base and things would go according to plan. 

    To some, my birth story may sound standard. We were both kept safe and policies and protocols we’re followed. No one was unkind to me, or ignored my wishes. No one did any procedures or examinations without my consent and in fact a lot of the things on my birth plan were respected. Others may hear my story and say that it’s traumatic. In fact, a midwife who came to visit me at home in the early days said ‘I’m so glad your smiling and ok, as when I knew you’d had a caesarean after planning a home birth I wasn’t sure what to expect seeing you today!’. Others may hear it and say ‘well you’re both here and healthy and that’s all that matters’, as if this makes up for a birth not going according to plan (and this is a topic for another day…) but they are all just different opinions and interpretations of the same event. They are not fact. 

    For 18 months I couldn’t put my finger on why I was getting flashbacks to elements of my labour and birth at random times…whilst washing the pots, trying to go to sleep at night, in the shower. Why I felt so anxious and why I had put such rigid rules in place about how a mother should be and if I wasn’t following them then I was a ‘bad mum’. For so long I’d thought it was because I had failed to do one of the most sacred and feminine acts- push my baby out of my body. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that I was still beating myself up about something which happened so long ago. Why did it still matter so much to me?

    One of the amazing midwives who cared for me during labour said to me at one point, when a caesarean was looking more likely “you just need to be able to look back and know that you did everything you could” and for a while the memory of those words brought me comfort. But I couldn’t shake the thought that if I did everything I could to avoid a caesarean birth (which I really believe that I did) then why was I not feeling happy and fulfilled with my experience, regardless of the actual outcome?

    Its taken me almost 3 years and the help of some wonderful people to get to the bottom of it, in particular my recent work with the wonderful Sarah Brent in her Emotional Health Coach Academy. I have suspected for some time that attending antenatal classes, making a birth plan and having a supportive birth team wasn’t enough to ensure a positive experience (and I was living proof!) and I wanted to understand why this might be. Qualifying as an Emotional Health Coach has not only helped me understand this deeply but gave me an amazing opportunity to heal myself and hit the master reset button on so many things which have been negatively impacting me, particularly regarding my own birth experience. 

    My core belief prior to and during pregnancy was that if left undisturbed birth could and should be a natural, amazing and transformative experience. I had pre-loaded my expectations that this is how it was going to be for me, even though I had never given birth before so I had no ‘evidence’ that this would be the case. 

    I have cared for enough people in labour to understand that birth can be unpredictable, but I believed I had done everything I could to ensure it would go according to plan for me. 

    I’d started off with high self confidence and self esteem about the birth. I had put so many things in place to try and safeguard the ‘perfect birth’. The doula, the birth plan, my unwavering belief in the awesomeness of my body and trust in my baby…and for some birthing folk this would be enough for them to achieve a positive and empowering birth. But my self esteem took such a massive hit when all those external things i’d put in place were no longer working to help keep the birth I wanted on track. And they never would have. As the one thing which I didn’t have in place was my mindset. The reason I considered my birth to be traumatic and a personal failure is because unknowingly I was trying to control the uncontrollable through external factors rather than developing my own internal resources.

    I had needed a caesarean to give birth and as this realisation ‘threatened’ my core belief about birth, it had caused me to start thinking very negatively about my own birth. It made me internalise the outcome and blame myself for not being able to achieve the very thing which I truly believe in. I dwelled on it. Replayed that day over and over in my mind. Visualising all the different ways it could have gone. Feeding those negative thoughts and feelings. Not once did I give myself any credit for the hours and hours of preparation I had put in to trying to achieve my best birth. The pregnancy yoga and frequent chiropractic sessions, my nightly self care and bonding time with my baby bump, the birth plan I’d written to help me be able to clearly communicate the things which we’re important to me. I hadn’t even acknowledged the hours I had thrived in my labour- fully in my power and owning my experience. All I had been focusing on was the final few hours when everything had gone ‘wrong’. 

    I’ve realised that what makes one persons birth ‘bad’ and another persons ‘good’ is perception and interpretation. We don’t all feel and react the same in similar situations. I had been telling myself for so long that I had failed as I had not pushed my baby out. This is not a fact but a belief. No one else was judging me so harshly. I have come to understand that I can start to change this belief by changing my perception, and acknowledging all my efforts rather than just the end result. I already feel so much better. 

    I truly believe that the KEY to preparing for a positive birth experience should include an understanding of a persons own core beliefs about birth, mothering and in general terms. How they view themselves and their place in the world has such a massive impact on this and the ability to develop skills for their internal self esteem and self worth. All of which will help them approach motherhood with resilience and confidence. 

    This in my souls work and regardless of whether you already know how to approach labour and birth as a midwife, developing a view from the other side, how you approach birth as a pregnant person and the additional challenges being on the receiving end of care brings, will undoubtedly make a huge difference to your experience. 

    Love Radha x