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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Baby's Coming by Virginia Howes

The Baby's Coming: A Story of Dedication by an Independent Midwife
Virginia Howes was a mother of four doing the ironing when she had a revelation. Still broody, but not really wanting to add to her family, she realized that becoming a midwife was her true vocation. It was a long journey to get the education and qualifications she needed, especially with a young family, but she was determined and never doubted her decision. Following her training, she spent three years working within the NHS, but her naturally independent spirit fought against the constraints of the system and twelve years ago she decided to set up on her own. Virginia works with mothers who want to give birth at home naturally, something which Virginia believes in passionately. 350 births later, Virginia still loves what she does. The Baby's Coming is Virginia's memoir and tells the stories of her training as a midwife as well as some of the most memorable of those 350 births: the most dramatic, the most touching. Virginia particularly remembers the births of her own grandchildren, whose arrivals in the world were some of the most special moments for her as both a midwife and grandmother.

I am a mum, I have two children aged nearl 10 and nearly 12. Both births were quick, one in hospital and one an unscheduled home delivery with dad delivering his son in a rare footling breech birth. I also work in a children's centre and am surrounded by children aged 0-5 years throughout the week. My husband knows I am broody and would have another baby at the drop of a hat, however he is not wanting anymore, and if we did , i would be in hospital at 20 weeks and not allowed out until the baby is born!  However, this book has really made be want another baby and to have a birth at home, which is scheduled and to my wishes!

I first heard about Virginia Howes through a television programme on ITV last year which followed midwives about their work. Working in a children's centre I knew that there were district teams of community midwives who cared for ladies from the moment they knew they were pregnant until around ten days following the birth however I had never heard about independent midwives. Virginia Howes is one such midwife and after reading this book I think she is a remarkable lady. 

Through this book, the reader learns about Virginia's life - her early years, her school life, her teenage relationship which lead to her becoming a teenage mum who's child was planned and the subsequent years and the births of her other children. The care that she received changed with each pregnancy and it was through these experiences that Virginia decided midwifery was for her and also that she wanted to support women in giving birth how they wanted to and in a calm and relaxing environment with minimal intervention. 

When reading this book I believe that Virginia is a very strong willed lady and is confident to speak on behalf of her patients whenever possible and also to remind her clients of their initial wishes and try her best to ensure that these are followed to the letter.  There are many birth stories included in the book, although they are all relevant to the progression of Virginia's career, and some are the ones included in the television programme.

I would recommend that all student midwives should read this book as part of their course as it really encourages the mother's wishes to be central to their work. It is a great read which also is one of social history of the medical profession as practice changed.

Many books which document a midwife or nurse's life has the obligatory ten or so pages of glossy pictures, this one doesn't and I don't think it needs it, in fact I believe it shows Viginia's beliefs that her clients are most important, not all about the end result, although of course healthy babies are also important. This book is evidence that Virginia Howes should be recognised for her work in the medical profession.

Thank you to the publishers, Headline, for sending me the book to review, although I am not sure my husband is glad I have read it as I keep on about having baby number three!


  1. cant wait to read it myself! virginia looked after us for our 2nd and we'd do it again with her no doubt about it :-)

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