Talk

Advanced search

June Book of the Month: Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard - answers back

(24 Posts)
SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 31-May-19 14:06:40

Our bookclub read for June is Hard Pushed by midwife Leah Hazard - an eye-opening account of life on the labour ward and a moving and candid love letter to new mothers and fellow midwives. To take part in the author Q&A, post your question(s) for Leah by midday Friday 28 June.

About the book

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, and from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a newborn baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.

Through her eyes, we meet a range of women - from Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science to Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the door of Leah’s ward.

Buy the book for £11.99



About the author

Leah Hazard is a serving NHS midwife. Having studied at Harvard, she left a career in television to pursue her lifelong interest in women’s health after the birth of her first daughter. She soon began working as a doula, supporting women in pregnancy and attending numerous births in homes and hospitals across the country. The birth of Leah’s second daughter prompted Leah to make the leap into midwifery, working in a variety of NHS maternity services, from antenatal clinics to triage units and labour wards.

You can follow Leah on Twitter.

Leah says: "I’m so thrilled to introduce my book, Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story, as a Mumsnet Book of the Month. These stories really are love letters to the women I’ve looked after, to the colleagues who work alongside me with such strength, wit and grace, and to the NHS. Thank you for taking the time to join me on my journey."

Get involved

Grab a copy of the book, read it and join the discussion here. Post your question(s) for Leah by midday Friday 28 June.

We'll then send over a selection to Leah and post her answers up by mid-July.

This thread is sponsored by Penguin Random House

Prices correct at time of publication. Mumsnet carries some affiliate marketing links, so if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale (more details).

roundligament Fri 31-May-19 20:34:27

I just started it today actually, I'm 230 pages in. It's fantastic. I'm really enjoying it!

IrishMamaMia Fri 31-May-19 22:38:57

I have a copy on reserve at my local library so will hopefully join in smile

morallybankruptme Mon 03-Jun-19 21:27:33

Disappointed with this months choice. I have no interest in reading about midwives .

avocadochocolate Tue 04-Jun-19 08:34:12

Just finished reading it. Fantastic book!

Mythreeknights Wed 05-Jun-19 06:30:06

Oooh am I in the book? Leah Hazard was my doula. I had a nasty back to back that went very wrong, nearly ending in both me and my son dying. Unfortunately Leah had to leave by the time I was being wheeled into theatre (!) I'd better get a copy from the library.

sjonlegs Thu 06-Jun-19 09:09:29

Oh my - a woman is so incredibly vulnerable in the throws of labour ... and Leah captures this beautifully.

Sleepyhead11 Sun 16-Jun-19 14:05:22

My library don't have this yet, might put a res on anyway though. (Or might buy it though will have to wait til pay day.)

SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 26-Jun-19 12:55:17

Hey folks - don't forget to post your questions for Leah by this Friday brew

Starheart Wed 26-Jun-19 21:07:13

Really enjoyed this book and found it a real insight into the experience of being a midwife . I have just finished it today .

In the book you talked about the impact of the job on midwives mental health and I was wondering what support is available for midwifes and what would you like to see ?

puzzledpandacorn Thu 27-Jun-19 17:24:30

I loved this book! I really enjoyed getting a real-life peer into the job and what being a midwife is like

I have two questions, firstly, have you always wanted to write or did you come to it later to share your story?

And secondly, what's your opinion on shows like one born every minute or even 24 hours in a&e? are they true to what it's like? (although I am sure by the time you've done your long working week you prob don't want to sit and watch even more of it on TV grin)

Thanks for coming to answer our questions!

orangecatsgalore Thu 27-Jun-19 17:36:12

Hi Leah,
I really enjoyed the book! I have a friend who is also a midwife and I am always in awe of women who take on this profession - thank you for your hard work and service.

What made you decide to become a midwife? What would you say to someone thinking of training to become one?

Thanks smile

ireallylovechessenonioncrisps Fri 28-Jun-19 09:54:21

Hey Leah, bit of a general question - but overall, what would you say is the best part of being a midwife, and what's the most challenging?

If you could go back, would you choose the profession again?

HarrietMWelsch Fri 28-Jun-19 10:29:39

Hi Leah

Reading the book at the moment and finding it very insightful!

You mention at the beginning that to preserve patient confidentiality, names etc have been changed and 'the stories told are not based on any one specific patient or individual, but are rather a selection of composite characters drawing from my various experiences'.

How hard was it to navigate that line between upholding confidentiality and presenting events as honestly as possible?

SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 02-Jul-19 16:28:49

Thanks for all your questions, we're sending those over now. We'll also be putting to Leah what we ask all our Book of the Month authors:

What was your favourite childhood book?

What was the last book you gave to someone as a gift?

What was the last book you read?

Can you describe the room(s) where you wrote Hard Pushed?

SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Jul-19 16:31:48

Hi all! Leah's answers are on their way smile

LeahHazard Tue 23-Jul-19 16:37:34

Starheart

Really enjoyed this book and found it a real insight into the experience of being a midwife . I have just finished it today .

In the book you talked about the impact of the job on midwives mental health and I was wondering what support is available for midwifes and what would you like to see ?

Every health board has its own occupational health department which should be able to signpost staff towards mental health services as required; however, creating a more positive workplace culture is the best thing any trust could do for its staff. This includes encouraging staff to take their breaks, zero tolerance of bullying and undermining behaviour, adequate resources for staff to do their jobs without undue stress, and management who are supportive and visible on a daily basis.

LeahHazard Tue 23-Jul-19 16:40:09

puzzledpandacorn

I loved this book! I really enjoyed getting a real-life peer into the job and what being a midwife is like

I have two questions, firstly, have you always wanted to write or did you come to it later to share your story?

I’ve loved writing stories since I was a little girl, and I’ve always been a huge lover of books. I studied English and American Literature and Language at Harvard before moving to the UK, and during that time I enjoyed writing short stories as well as my usual academic coursework. I stopped writing for a long time, though, when my children were young, and it was difficult to build up my confidence again when I began to write Hard Pushed. I feel like my writing improved as the book progressed – perhaps readers feel the same!

puzzledpandacorn

And secondly, what's your opinion on shows like one born every minute or even 24 hours in a&e? are they true to what it's like? (although I am sure by the time you've done your long working week you prob don't want to sit and watch even more of it on TV grin)

Thanks for coming to answer our questions!

I have mixed feelings about these programmes; on the one hand, women often tell me that they’ve watched One Born Every Minute rather than going to Parentcraft classes, so they must feel that there’s some value to be had in the viewing experience; however, it’s important to remember that these programmes are ultimately entertainment, and as such, they are highly edited to show the ‘best’ (funniest, scariest, most emotional) bits. OBEM does not accurately represent the whole birthing experience of either women or the midwives looking after them; it’s fine to enjoy the show, but I wouldn’t want people to use it as their sole source of education around maternity.

LeahHazard Tue 23-Jul-19 16:40:39

orangecatsgalore

Hi Leah,
I really enjoyed the book! I have a friend who is also a midwife and I am always in awe of women who take on this profession - thank you for your hard work and service.

What made you decide to become a midwife? What would you say to someone thinking of training to become one?

Thanks smile

I decided to become a midwife so that I could make the experience of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood more positive and empowering for other women. I hope I’ve been able to do that, but the job is much more complex, skilled and challenging than I could ever have imagined. If you’re thinking of training to become a midwife, I would say go for it if you’re passionate, but always remember to look after yourself too so that you’ve got the energy and stamina to look after others.

LeahHazard Tue 23-Jul-19 16:41:17

ireallylovechessenonioncrisps

Hey Leah, bit of a general question - but overall, what would you say is the best part of being a midwife, and what's the most challenging?

If you could go back, would you choose the profession again?

The best part of being a midwife is knowing that you’re undoubtedly doing something valuable with your time; you’ve helped someone have a positive experience, or maybe even saved a life. That’s a privilege and an honour that should never be taken for granted. If I could go back, I wouldn’t change anything – I’d still be a midwife. The job has been more personally demanding than I could ever have imagined, but that’s something I think you only learn once you’re doing it.

LeahHazard Tue 23-Jul-19 16:43:10

HarrietMWelsch

Hi Leah

Reading the book at the moment and finding it very insightful!

You mention at the beginning that to preserve patient confidentiality, names etc have been changed and 'the stories told are not based on any one specific patient or individual, but are rather a selection of composite characters drawing from my various experiences'.

How hard was it to navigate that line between upholding confidentiality and presenting events as honestly as possible?

As a practising midwife, I’m very mindful of the fact that I’m bound by the NMC’s Code of Conduct, as well as all the usual legal concerns of a ‘normal’ author. It was incredibly important to me that my book should preserve the privacy of patients and staff, and that my writing should be respectful and honest at all times. This was a tricky line to tread (and one which lost me many hours of sleep!), but I was lucky enough to have the support of an excellent legal team at Penguin Random House and I think we’ve done as good a job together as we possibly could have.

LeahHazard Tue 23-Jul-19 16:45:34

SorchaMumsnet

Thanks for all your questions, we're sending those over now. We'll also be putting to Leah what we ask all our Book of the Month authors:

What was your favourite childhood book?

I think I read every book by Judy Blume – she’s much bigger in America than she is here in the UK, but I would recommend her to any keen young reader.

SorchaMumsnet

What was the last book you gave to someone as a gift?

I gave my husband a book about World War II fighter pilots for Father’s Day. We’re both fascinated by military history, and how people are capable of astonishing acts of bravery under difficult circumstances.

SorchaMumsnet

What was the last book you read?

I just finished reading ‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones – I highly recommend it.

SorchaMumsnet

Can you describe the room(s) where you wrote Hard Pushed?

Hard Pushed was mainly written in a variety of local coffee shops – anywhere with good wifi and a strong flat white will do! I find writing at home too distracting; it’s easy to feel guilty about doing the washing if it’s staring you right in the face.

LeahHazard Tue 23-Jul-19 16:57:17

Mythreeknights

Oooh am I in the book? Leah Hazard was my doula. I had a nasty back to back that went very wrong, nearly ending in both me and my son dying. Unfortunately Leah had to leave by the time I was being wheeled into theatre (!) I'd better get a copy from the library.

I can honestly say that none of my doula clients are featured in the book, but I wish all of them – and all of my midwifery patients – all the very best! Again, every woman in the book is actually a composite of the many women I’ve had the privilege to look after, so ideally no one should recognise themselves in Hard Pushed.

boobear24 Thu 25-Jul-19 20:37:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »