“Call the Midwife” Delivers

I’m always on the lookout for shows about health care providers (particularly nurses). Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment, because they usually disappoint. But thanks to The Truth About Nursing, I’ve discovered a gem.

Call the Midwife is a BBC series about a group of midwifes and nuns serving the East End of London in the 1950s. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the first season was so successful in the UK that PBS picked it up. It is a delightful story about compassion, strength and humility. The acting is superb, and the show strikes just the right balance of gravitas and comedy.


Although I am neither a midwife nor a labor and delivery nurse, I loved the birth scenes. They can be graphic, but I appreciated that they were real. And as someone who sees a midwife for my lady needs and has considered home birth for my potential children, I was glad they didn’t gloss over the scary and painful stuff. It happens, and I emerged from the season premiere so deeply grateful for my midwives of the past, present and future.

One of the aspects I appreciate most about the series is how non-judgmental it is in portraying London’s East End. It would be easy to offer a caricature of the poverty and hardship experienced by the midwives’ patients and their families. But rather than make demeaning comments about these women (many of whom have many children), the midwives meet a need and offer support, education and safe care. As one of the nuns says, “they are why we are here”. Having practiced in community health, I was struck by this philosophy of service. Perhaps because I hear and see fellow nurses (including myself) operating from a place of judgment far too often.

My only (minor and very American) complaint is that I sometimes have to rewind it to catch some of the dialogue, thanks to an untrained ear for British accents. But I don’t mind rewatching. 😉

I highly encourage you to check out Call the Midwife – Sunday evenings on PBS. The show premiered here in the US on September 30, but you can watch any episodes you might have missed online. Or you can buy the DVD of the entire first season here. It is returning to BBC for a second season, so fingers crossed PBS hangs on to this one!

P.S. Not to be overtly political or anything, but programming like this is one of the reasons public television and radio are SO vitally important. I’ve tried to stay out of the fray this election season (although it’s pretty clear where my loyalties lie). But cutting funding for PBS? Really, Mitt Romney????

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