The Duchess of Cambridge has penned an open letter thanking midwives for their hard work, praising them for going above and beyond to help people “at their most vulnerable”.
Kate Middleton spent several days shadowing midwives at Kingston Hospital’s Maternity Unit in November and says she felt privileged to witness the work that “goes on behind the scenes, and away from the spotlight”.
“You are there for women at their most vulnerable; you witness strength, pain and unimaginable joy on a daily basis,” she wrote in the letter.
“Although this was not my first encounter with the care and kindness provided by midwives across the country, it gave me a broader insight into the true impact you have on everybody you help.”
Her letter has been welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives, but chief executive Gill Walton told HuffPost UK midwives also need better pay and working conditions in order to do their jobs.
The Duchess gave birth to her own three children at the private Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital.
At Kingston Hospital, she spent time at the hospital’s NHS clinic and post-natal ward as well as visiting new parents at home alongside the midwives.
“No matter the setting, I was continually struck by the compassion that those of you I spent time with showed, and the incredible work ethic you demonstrated on behalf of your entire profession – not only performing your rounds but working tirelessly through the night to support people that were at their most vulnerable,” the Duchess wrote after her visit.
The Duchess’ royal work has focused on Early Years – improving the lives of young children and supporting charities and projects that focus on childhood mental health – including guest editing the HuffPost UK project Young Minds Matter in 2016.
Her letter thanked midwives for playing a “crucial” role in Early Years care and for the “help and reassurance” provided to parents-to-be and new parents. “It goes a long way in building parents’ confidence from the start, with lifelong impact on the future happiness of their children,” she wrote.
January 2020 marks the start of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, and the Duchess ended her letter by saying: “As we look ahead to next year, I want to thank you for all that you do.”
“You don’t ask for praise or for recognition but instead unwaveringly continue your amazing work bringing new life into our world,” she added. “You
continue to demonstrate that despite your technical mastery and the advancement of modern medicine, it is the human to human relationships and simple acts of kindness that sometimes mean the most.”
Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said she’s “delighted that the work of midwives and MSWs has been recognised in this way by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge”, but midwifery remains under funded and understaffed in the UK.
“We need to invest in maternity services so that mothers, babies and their families get the world class maternity care this country should be providing,” she told HuffPost UK. “Midwifery vacancy rates remain high, running around 9% when sickness and other temporary absences are factored in. Senior midwives are also telling us that vacancy rates have increased considerably in the past year.”
To ensure NHS hospitals have the resources needed to meet the demands services are facing, we must not only train more midwives, but support those already working “through decent pay and conditions”, Walton added.
“The training grant for midwives announced this month is welcome, but there is still a long way to go.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.