Hard Pushed, A Midwife’s Story by Leah Hazard
Today I am reviewing Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard, A Midwife’s Story. Thank you to Hutchinson Books for a copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.
You haven’t slept for twenty hours, haven’t eaten for ten, and you’re in charge of twenty heavily pregnant women at midnight.
Welcome to the life of a midwife.
Life on the NHS front line is tougher than you could imagine. Marathon shifts, endless birth complications, staffing shortages, pushy families, panicking mothers – and that’s a quiet Thursday afternoon.
But the strength and camaraderie of the women working under such intense pressure is a beautiful thing. Together, they must withstand one of the world’s most difficult job, one that produces moments of pure, absolute joy and – terrible, heart-wrenching grief.
Through the experienced eyes of Leah Hazard, we meet women from all walks of life: the scared fifteen-year-old whose baby could be months premature, the same-sex couple whose child will be a miracle of modern medicine, the woman giving birth in a room drenched in essential oils and love, and the mother-to-be whose tale of exploitation and endurance has carried her thousands of miles to Leah’s ward.
I’ve always had a fascination with the work of a midwife and read many fictitious books about the profession.
However, I have never read such an honest, articulate and factual account of daily life working on a maternity ward. Leah explains the arduous shifts and the utter desperation suffered by NHS colleagues due to staff shortages. She describes the physical and mental strains of working in an environment stretched to its limits.
Despite all of this, a resounding note of pride comes across in the memoir. It is written in very plain language and laced with humour and heartwarming personal stories.
I loved her completely unjudgemental approach to her patients and how each and every one gets her absolute undivided attention. It doesn’t matter how tired and stressed she feels inside, Leah treats every woman professionally. The tremendously strong bond between the staff is described beautifully. Together they work twelve-hour shifts, with one aim, which is to deliver babies safely.
This is a vivid, no holds barred memoir told by a caring, compassionate midwife. Leah Hazard has the courage to tell her story, warts and all.
There is a glossary at the back of the book which helped with any medical terminology that I was unfamiliar with. I raced through this book, soaking up the short chapters and going through a whole kaleidoscope of emotions.
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.
‘The stories in Hard Pushed highlight the bravery of our midwives, and the women they care for.’ CHRISTIE WATSON, author of The Language of Kindness
‘Heart-rending, inspiring and funny, Hard Pushed brings alive the world of midwifery in all its complexity and radiates love and respect for women.’ PROFESSOR LESLEY PAGE CBE, former president of the Royal College of Midwives
‘It is Leah Hazard’s capacity to love and give so personally to the many thousands of women she has worked with which imbues this book with its power.’ JULIA SAMUEL, author of Grief Works
‘Not only powerful but well written too . . . a worthwhile addition to a genre fast becoming as crowded as a busy maternity unit.’ DAILY EXPRESS
‘A riveting read: heartwarming and heartbreaking’ SHEENA BYROM OBE, midwifery consultant and author of Catching Babies
‘A beautifully written, intimate portrait of the extraordinary work that midwives carry out each and every day.’ CAROLINE ELTON, author of Also Human: The Inner Lives of Doctors