Call the Midwife delivers again

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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

That’s it. Another series of Call the Midwife is over. Having binge-watched the final three episodes in one evening, I was left utterly exhausted, sobbing and cheering in equal measure as my emotions were tugged mercilessly with every contraction. The final episode had birth, death, marriage and even a vintage carousel. What a triumph!

I’m a big fan of the series for so many reasons: Trixie’s clothes and her clipped pronunciation; large prams with chariot-like suspension; hand-knitted matinee jackets; sensible Phyllis saying “Eeh lass!” and so many beautiful babies. Add to this the beatific smiles of the nuns of Nonnatus House and you’re onto a ratings winner.

Every year, on my birthday, my mum loves to share with me the story of my birth. I now have a vivid picture of my own journey into the world: the ward sister running into the delivery room in her nightdress; my dad arriving later that day with a fresh bunch of pink carnations; my mum, still groggy from Pethidine, telling all the nurses how much she loved him, and their cheery, no-nonsense reply, “Oh Lord, she’ll be back in nine months’ time!”

I tend not to regale my son with stories of his own birth 21 years ago – “Too much information, Mother!” – but still remember the drive to Pilgrim Hospital, Boston and the delicious taste of hot buttered toast I was given after my gorgeous boy was born.

My husband Dougie, who had delivered dozens of babies in that same department when he was a junior doctor, had to take on the role of father-to-be that day. Just like good old Dr Turner, who was eventually allowed to support his wife Shelagh during the birth of their baby, Dougie had to try not to interfere in the proceedings and for once allowed himself to be chief hand-holder and back-rubber.

The delivery room was historically a female-only environment. This all changed in the 1960s with the realisation that dads could also be of great support to mums in labour. My own dad was one of the very first to be allowed to stay with my mum in the delivery suite of a Newcastle hospital when my brother was born in 1961. My mum recalls the midwives warning him that if he fainted he would just have to lie there.

Over the six series of Call the Midwife the writers have ensured that many topical 
issues of the time are covered. Recently they’ve tackled Thalidomide, Down’s Syndrome, mental health and the contraceptive pill. The programme has proved to be an accurate historical documentary as well as a hugely popular drama.

I was thrilled to read that the BBC have commissioned three more series plus annual Christmas specials. Hankies at the ready...

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