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Publisher's Summary

Strongest advocate, best friend, expert, cheerleader and chief photographer. Before, during and after labour the role of a midwife is second to none. 

The Secret Midwife reveals the highs and lows on the frontline of the maternity unit, from the mother that tries to give herself a DIY caesarean to the baby born into witness protection, and from surprise infants that arrive down toilets to ones that turn up in the lift.

But there is a problem; the system which is supposed to support the midwives and the women they care for is starting to crumble. Short-staffed, over worked and underappreciated - these crippling conditions are taking their toll on the dedicated staff doing their utmost to uphold our National Health Service, and the consequences are very serious indeed.

©2019 The Secret Midwife (P)2019 Bonnier Books UK

What listeners say about The Secret Midwife

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Such a good book!

The story and narration were so captivating that I had to keep listening! Best book I’ve listened to in awhile. 100% recommended!

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Yes!

Exceptional narration from the moment I started! Couldn't put it down. Can easily get lost in the characters.

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a must read

At a time when single payer health care is being so hotly debated this is a must read. you still may not get care, but that will be due to shortages. And for those working in the system management support or lack of itmay or may not change based on what you are accustomed to

2 people found this helpful

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Compelling read…even as an RN in the U.S.

The Secret Midwife is well written and poignant, sharing the heartfelt experiences of a dedicated professional in the UK! As a nurse myself for over 50 years I found it to be compelling’. Having birthed two babies I know how important the person who assists in those milestone experiences is to a woman! I know the national health system in the UK makes it a bit different but this is an excellent book and I enjoyed it very much!!

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Insightful glimpse into UK midwifery

Captivating modern reflections of the life of a midwife within the NHS.”Call the Midwife” in the current generation. Kept my attention from beginning to end. As a person who works with women in birth in the USA I found many stories close to home. Medical procedure were explained is a narrative way. This is a story, and there is a point, but the story is not lost or preachy. Performance was excellent.

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  • Jt
  • 06-20-22

contrived

definitely struggled to finish. the first half was good, the second half was very depressing.

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Inspiring

I truly enjoyed every chapter. The reading was very realistic and captivating! I loved it!!

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I thought it was a good book.

I thought it would be a good book, but I was rong. Yes the story’s idea was good,
But I would not listen to it again. In fact I would not finish it.

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Very touching

This book shared experiences that were sweet and lovely, as well as those that were heartbreaking. I don’t know why the title is Secret Midwife, because there wasn’t anything secretive about it.
The prologue could have been written about those of us in the teaching profession as well. We too are under appreciated and under supported by administration. We too have a strong bond with our children. We truly care about them. It isn’t a job that turns off when you go home in the evening.
I enjoyed this book very much.

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Good Title, Bad Book

No wonder the author did not use her name. The narrator is no better, her voice was annoying. I was only able to get through three quarters of this dreck. I am just thankful I did not have to waste a credit on it.

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  • C. Mcintosh
  • 02-16-21

Heartbreaking for all the wrong reasons 😭

This book is full of inaccuracies. Given the fact it’s ghost written, this is probably down to shoddy proof reading - or did “Pippa” not proof read her own book before it went to print?

The main inaccuracy is the title - The Secret Midwife - It should be titled The Secret Obstetric Nurse. She comes across as the type of “midwife” who lives on the adrenaline and excitement of the job - like living in a tightly edited episode of One Born Every Minute. She pays lip service to having an understanding of the wider social and deeper psychological elements of why the women we care for make the decisions or do the things they do sometimes. However she clearly does not. She blames women for being “stupid” and “stubborn” when they don’t listen to her superior knowledge and training. She comes across,apparently unashamedly, as judgemental and sanctimonious. So long as women are following her advice and allowing her to be the heroine she’s happy. Chapter 5 left me with a headache and sore jaw with the clenching and seething I did!

As other reviews have said, the second half of the book comes across as one giant moaning session about The System and Management. All of her complaints in this respect are very valid and I would not be surprised if the unit she worked in was one which has subsequently gone on to be under an independent investigation and subject to special measures. I have been lucky enough to train and work in a country of the UK where labouring women are ALWAYS provided with 1-1 midwifery care and it is never acceptable to give more than one labouring women to a midwife, even though we are one of the busiest maternity units in Europe. Even with 1-1 midwifery care, it can still be extremely busy and stressful for all the other reasons “Pippa” talks about. I have trained and worked in exactly the same timeframe as “Pippa” describes yet her management/acceptable working culture seems utterly archaic. This is certainly not reflective of a UK wide culture. Perhaps she needs to put her heroic efforts into changing that culture for the women and fellow midwives in her area now that she has gotten her moaning out of her system in her book.

I’m sure most midwives have had non-midwifery people say to them “oh, you should write a book!!” Because for sure the events that happen to us and life stories we come across are fascinating, hilarious and terrifying. However, the vast majority of the most interesting things that have happened in my career could never be published in a book without the express permission of the women involved because they are far too identifiable. This leads me to think that many of “Pippa’s” stories are composites or embellished for dramatic effect. Even in our own private reflections we have to do as nurses or midwives in order to be allowed to continue to register with our professional body we we are allowed expressly told - do NOT include identifiable information. (spoiler: How many women have walked into a maternity unit with their grandmother carrying a baby in a Tesco Bag for Life?)

This book left me sad for many reasons:

Sad for my profession that anyone reading this as a student midwife to be thinks this is a good book and reflective of how the job is. Similar to people watching One Born Every Minute and thinking “oh! Being a midwife looks so exciting!!”

Sad for “Pippa” that her Managers allowed a situation that affected her mental health to deteriorate to such an extent. Life is short and children are children for such a short time and her relationship with her family and child have been affected by something that should never have happened

Sad that the system Pippa has trained and worked in have not allowed her to become a Midwife. She sounds like a great Obstetric nurse though.

Sad for the women “Pippa”
Judges in her memoir

Am glad that “Pippa” has found writing this book useful as a therapy and it’s helped her.

Read this book if you want to feel better about the unit you work in as a midwife. However, don’t buy it thinking you’ll learn anything about midwifery.

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  • Zoe Burns
  • 02-20-21

So many inaccuracies! Good description of burnout.

This is in no way reflective of current midwifery education. In fact it reads like Pippa trained very many years ago. How did she get into university without A levels or equivalent? How was she qualified at 20? The midwifery degree is one of the most difficult and competitive that there is.
Really misleading and as a current student midwife I’m actually disappointed that people will read this thinking that this is the way thing are today.
The comments on a third year who can’t catheterise doesn’t ring true at all. We’ve completed 2 years of skills, assignments and exams at that point plus around 2000 unpaid clinical hours working in the hospital. Unless she had a previous awful mentor who took all of her confidence?
I almost gave up reading when it said baby runs out of room towards the end of pregnancy which is just so dangerous. The comments about catheterising & ‘incubation’ instead of ‘intubation’. Calling a mum stupid and stubborn. Then starting the next chapter by talking about being an advocate for women and their choice. This all made me angry!
The stories about some of the mums, Sally for example her story had no resolution, what happened? The Polish workers story too, so judgemental & felt like a lack of compassion. We have to raise awareness of safeguarding issues to try to help these women. I really hope both of those were followed up by someone to get the help the obviously needed.

I have to say the 2nd half was a lot better in its description of burnout. I am a mature student and experienced burnout in my previous career as a teacher so that all really did ring true. Unsupportive, ineffective management are rife in lots of public sector areas! I could relate completely and it was a really accurate description of stress and depression. Also good that writing helped her therapeutically & Will sounds like a fantastic support. I just wish someone had proof read properly before publishing.

Hard pushed is a great book about the realities of midwifery & I also really enjoyed the language of kindness & the courage to care by Christie Watson. I would recommended reading those for a more rounded view.

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  • Cajcrafts
  • 10-03-21

Very judgemental and shocking

I got as far as chapter 8 and thought I can’t listen to this anymore - quote from this chapter “she looked normal, not rough at all no tattoos or piercings” so basically she was saying people with tattoos or piercings were lesser than others! My daughter is a great mother, has a good career, contribute to society and has TATTOOS and PIERCINGS, glad her midwife was judgemental!

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  • Sigrin
  • 04-13-22

Midwifery laid bare


I see there are a lot of slanders on Pippa in the reviews from other medical professionals. I personally think this is unfair.

I agree there needs to be a better proof read or edit, the incorrect use of the word incubation for intubation is a classic example.
However the slight on her character I feel is s bit cruel.

All midwives are not the same and neither are all pregnant women, thank goodness for that, so we cannot critique her beliefs and feelings for her profession and patients.
Pippa is obviously very passionate about her career and the mums in her care which is very evident in her words.

I fully understand her burnout with short staffing and an unsupportive management system. I personally feel, having worked in both the NHS and Private sector, that when the NHS bought in so many admin managers as opposed to medical manager to run units years ago, this was a major downfall. These medically untrained managers just do not understand the environment they are trying to manage, making poor clinical decisions due to their lack of training and ostracizing the staff working in these units.

Thank you Pippa for telling your story, lots of interesting stories and anecdotes.

I know that you covered up you patients names and details as confidentiality is first and foremost for medical personal especially when writing a book. So, one reviewer scathing you about the baby in the Tesco bag for life is just silly.

Perfect narration by Gloria Sanders.

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  • Liz
  • 11-25-21

We must fight for our NHS.

Amazing, sometimes harrowing but so true. Please listen, and then go fight for our NHS and stop voting Tory I beg. From a fellow NHS worker.

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  • Tracey
  • 10-04-21

very gripping

very gripping story, showing the struggle of the NHS midwifes, and what is needed to help them, and were the financial focus is lacking and the support our NHS needs.

1 person found this helpful

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  • shannon
  • 09-09-21

Absolutely brilliant

What an amazing book. So glad I read it and it gives a brilliant insight into what life must be like as a midwife. Excellent!

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  • Troyca
  • 08-29-21

A Rhea judgemental midwife ….

Was hoping for something a bit less preachy but then remembered it was written by a ‘secret midwife’. No real revelations here but a lot of superior chat about inadequate mothers and ‘know more’ midwives. Disappointing but predictable I guess having met a few midwives.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-29-22

Wonderful insight into what we all know but like to ignore

Wonderful insight into the nhs, we all know it’s struggling, we know how difficult the jobs are but its easy to ignore when we live our day to day lives and are rarely exposed

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  • Kayleigh C.
  • 06-12-22

Amazing!!

Honest, sad and funny. Loved this book, it was breathtakingly honest about the highs and lows of midwifery and the truth about how not everything goes to plan.

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  • Angela Pridham
  • 08-22-21

Brutally honest story about undervalued Midwives

As a retired midwife, I could totally relate to everything Pippa experienced and at times it could have been my story. I even knew what would happen next at times. From the adrenaline rush and privilege of helping women birth, to the absolute lack of care and support from management. This entrenched top heavy management. understaffed and overworked midwives who ultimately shoulder the blame when anything goes wromg has to stop. Sadly it is not just NHS but happening in Australia as well. Just the same. Well done Pippa for speaking out. If you didnt have to be anonymous youd be applauded by Midwives the world over and named Midwife of the Year.

1 person found this helpful

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  • chantel
  • 01-28-21

Insightful

The Secret Midwife was a really moving and insightful book, it gave such an in-depth view on something that the general public would never know about.
The book was well written and narrated.
The NHS really need to take a good hard look at themselves and what danger they are placing their midwives, new mums and babies in.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-20-22

Raw Open Loving Anger at England’s NHS


A.H. Brisbane Australia 🇦🇺

My Mum was a Midwife, during Nazi occupied Holland. With, an obtained, Gestapo pass, to be out after Curfew, Mum had plenty of times, when a handgun was placed against her head.

Under orders to open her bag, which she steadfastly refused, as her instruments were sterilised !

During those 6 long years, my Mum delivered Babies in Homes.

Mum was always excited if the Birth was at a Farm. There usually were some potatoes and vegetables in a Cellar.

Instead of having to dig up Tulip Bulbs, Mum, during the seven days confinement, ate a much better diet.

I must mention this: my Mum had a false bottom of the old style Doctors bag. Hiding false Identity Papers, Food stamps, and Bullets, for the Jews in hiding and the Dutch Resistance. Mum’s Mum was a Jewess !!

To me Mum was a heroine !
I wasn’t told of my Mums’ story until I was in my Thirties.

Reading ‘The Midwife’ gave me a totally different perspective !

Whereas some Mothers, in Holland still have Home Births, I am not aware how Holland treats its Midwives.

I have lived in Australia for over 51 years now and had our Three Children in Country Hospitals. Could not utter one complaint about our two Sons and one Daughter’s Births.

‘The Midwife’ ought to be a must read for Nursing Students. Particularly in Britain !!

The NHS certainly is run by fat cats. Hang your heads in Shame !!

To the Midwife who, so eloquently, told us your Story ? You have confirmed my belief Nursing is a Vocation, not just a job.

I’m proud to say I have my Mum’s Midwifery Badge.

Thank you for the privilege of listening to your Story.

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  • Not Half
  • 06-08-22

An important story beautifully told

An amazing insight behind the scenes. Made me appreciate the work of those on the front lines of healthcare, even more than I already did.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-27-22

Bloody brilliant!

This was an excellent & enjoyable listen. The combination of exciting & dramatic stories, as well as the harrowing health system challenges faced by Pippa & midwives across the NHS, makes for a great story. It also highlights the systemic issues that all should be aware of & compassionate towards.

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  • Jo Williams
  • 04-24-22

Health System Exposed

This is a realistic recount of a health system under the pump.
We all go into health for the right reasons, yet for the most part, consistantly nurses & midwives are expected to live & work carrying the load from understaffing & top-heavy management, while providing a perfectly seamless shift caring in a personable & professional manner.
Ultimately the nurse & midwives need higher staffing & better pay, for bringing lives into the world & providing top class care to the sick.

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  • Jean Mitchell
  • 04-02-22

lovely story

The secret midwife. Absolutely beautiful a beautiful story I did enjoyed. And so true.
Love the story.

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  • Anthony
  • 04-01-22

Enlightening

An easy listen, it was an insightful look in to the world of a midwife.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-14-22

A great book that will resonate with midwives everywhere.

As a midwife I absolutely loved this book with the stories of birthing women and the crazy things we encounter. It reminded me of the many women I have cared for and their stories, both wonderful and heartbreaking. Unfortunately the burnout from lack of staffing and stress rang so true to what I also have experienced in my own career. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-20-22

Very insightful

I enjoyed listening to her early anecdotes about events on the delivery suite and her training to be a midwife - they were an interesting mixture of both hilarious and heartwrenching situations to be in. And while it was sad to hear about how strained the NHS is and how little support the hospital is able to provide, I was very inspired by her rising through these challenges/struggles. Highly recommend this!