That first time you enter the maternity ward, for real

Let me just set out my stall — I think midwives and nurses are extraordinary people who should be paid the same as boom-time property magnates (although if that were the case, they’d probably all be living off-shore at the moment which would be no good to us).

Yes, midwives and nurses are wonderful people.

But maternity wards are unusual places, and the staff and patients populating them are different to those you’d find in any other hospital ward. For the most part, patients are hopefully not sick and are there for life-changing-ly exciting reasons.

But every Mum I know has a story of the midwife whose cup of tea or kind words at just the right time were a godsend, versus the one who made them feel as if they had wronged them in a previous life.

Most Mums-to-be are just like most other women I know — bright, opinionated and perceptive.

Women who know their own minds, and when it comes to birth, know what they want, or equally, what they don’t. But many lose their confidence the second they walk into the maternity ward.

I know a lot of you will have stories of empowerment and taking control, and I swear if I have a second baby, I will try to be like you, but I walked in through those swinging hospital doors and forgot EVERYTHING I was going to do and say.

From what I can remember, all I did was thank everyone profusely and look terrified.

Even when a midwife brought in a team of trainees to stare at my naked lower half and discuss lochia (trust me if you need that one explained, you don’t want that one explained), I just nodded and smiled like someone newly arrived in a country where I didn’t speak a word of the language.In my case, I didn’t know any of the midwives or other staff in the hospital I was in; they were strangers on whose kindness I relied. And most of them were very kind indeed and I deferred to their knowledge and experience.

But the first 24 hours with a newborn is like nothing else on earth.

You run a gauntlet of emotions and feelings, wrapped up in that strange post-birth euphoria and pain. And every couple of hours or so, a midwife or nurse will pop in and check on you, and they are like angels. Angels bearing smiles and occasionally very welcome slices of toast.

But at least once in your hospital stay, you may meet the midwife you’d like to beat with her own smile. In my case it was the one who kept telling me I was letting my baby “run rings” around me already. And then she lost my respect forever by telling me I couldn’t have any toast.

I consoled myself by googling “Les Dawson wife jokes” and simply replacing “wife” with “midwife”; it was surprisingly satisfying.

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