Book Review – Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard

The Book Blurb:

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.

Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard is available on Amazon in Hardcover or Kindle Format from 2nd May 2019.

Hard Pushed is a compilation of short snippets, stories of the women who have come through the doors at an NHS hospital and been treated in triage or on the labour ward by Midwife Hazard. She writes honestly, informatively and emotionally about the thoughts that a midwife has when dealing with women in a wide variety of situations. Each story imparts something different – a new experience, thought or emotion, and there’s a running commentary on the pressures that a midwife is under, especially as the NHS becomes more overburdened.

We all know from the news – and perhaps from experiencing it ourselves as I certainly did during the birth of my son – that staffing problems are especially difficult in midwifery right now, but hearing it from a different angle – from an overworked midwife who genuinely cares about every single woman who walks through the doors, really brought home how this is impacting all the families involved. Will the right people take note of the plea for help in this book and make the changes we need to see? Will new midwives be given inspiration to keep going? Will young people want to pursue midwifery as a career? I hope so. And in that regard this is a book for everyone – from those still in school wondering if this might be a career option for them, to politicians to expectant or experienced mums and dads.

Nothing is glossed over here, no reality is too hard – from the teenager with PPROM, to the trafficked woman carrying a rapist’s baby, but it’s not all drama and complications. There are stories about the simplicity of birth and how easy it can be, about the ebb and flow of both life, and death. I’ve read countless birth stories – pouring over them before my son was born to prepare myself (thanks Type A + anxiety), and afterwards, reading and supporting the stories of fellow bloggers. I must have read hundreds of birth stories over the last few years so all of the terms and problems in this book were actually familiar to me – but until this book, I’d never read a birth story from the point of view of the midwife. I think reading about it from the other side helps put things into perspective and gives a bigger picture of childbirth.

I had an awful childbirthing experience, one which left me scarred both physically and mentally and ultimately helped seal my fate as a mum of one. As I read this book, I wish I’d had an opportunity to be treated by Leah Hazard and it made me realize I didn’t even know the names of the midwives who had treated me, despite what an important part they ultimately played in my sons beginning.

As a gentle trigger warning, this might be a hard book for women who have struggled during labour, so if reading or discussing birth stories upsets you, this would not be an easy read. For myself, although I had a very traumatic birth experience, I don’t mind reading about the birth experiences of others. If anything, it puts me at ease to realize that in the entire scope of childbirth – mine was somewhere in the middle, probably just one more emergency c-section for an overworked midwife who I could tell wanted the best for me, but who quickly rushed off to the next woman needing her attention. I feel reassurance that my story played out, just a tiny snippet in a myriad of lives – like all the stories in this book.

I found Hard Pushed a compelling read, an insightful glimpse behind the scenes and gained perspective on my own challenging birth experience by reading it. I would highly recommend it and give it five stars.

Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard is available on Amazon in Hardcover or Kindle Format from 2nd May 2019.

I received this a review copy from the publishers through Netgalley.

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