Last updated at 6:43 PM on 15th December 2009
Precious moment: But midwives can spend just minutes with expectant mums in the run-up to birth
Clutching her husband's hand and with agony and exhaustion etched on her face, a young woman struggled into a room in the maternity unit where I worked.
She was in the early stages of labour with her first baby, she was terrified, in excruciating pain and desperate for any crumb of support.
Helpless beside her, her overnight bag in his hand, her poor husband looked equally traumatised.
My heart went out to them. But I knew there was little I could do. With five other pregnant women to care for at the same time, all with hugely different and complex problems, I was rushed off my feet and didn't have the time to look after her properly, to allay her fears or to hear about how she wanted the birth to unfold.
I longed to sit with this poor young woman, calm her and remind her gently to breathe deeply through each contraction.
Just half an hour of my time could have made all the difference. Instead, I put on my cheeriest smile and followed hospital procedure. 'Would you like a painkiller?' I asked.
Ten hours later, after she had been drugged to the eyeballs to dull the pain, I heard she'd given birth.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1235921/Midwives-meltdown-A-NHS-worker-reveals-understaffed-maternity-wards-sinking-chaos.html#ixzz0ZnxlvaWB