I think that this show is one of my favorite shows that I have ever seen. It is based off of former Nurse Jenny Lee’s book about working in the poverty-stricken East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s. The main characters are Jenny Lee, Trixie Franklin, Camilla or Chummy, and Cynthia Miller.
The show tackles the issue of mothers giving birth at home in the poverty stricken neighborhood. Most mothers wanted to give birth around the house where they could be near their support system such as their mothers. This became a problem for the nurses as they tried to make sure that everyone had a clean place with space to give birth but most of them did not.
Jenny Lee moved there to join the league of midwives that had a weekly clinic to check up on the mothers, run the home visits, and also help with the birthing of the children. In Poplar, there was almost always pregnant women, and not only that but the society was nearly run by women because they were all taking care of the children while the husbands often were out at sea fishing.
The midwives were comprised of the main characters, along with nuns that lived at the Parish House, and so they all slept in the same quarters and ran their business out of there. They rode bikes around Poplar to get to all their deliveries, and answered the phone inside in order to send out the midwives.
Many problems could occur in the birth, and without the full time hospital care these women were the best medical care that the mothers could receive. Some of the issues with birthing that the show covered were disorders such as spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, babies being born in the wrong position, mother hemorrhaging, and even twins/triplets which could take a toll on a mother that didn’t have any type of pain relief medication available.
The show tackles the growing problem of racism in Poplar, when they had to service an African woman who’s husband was off at sea although the neighbors were against it, or when a mother slept with a black man so she and her white husband had a black baby to take care of. They have teenage motherhood, told through the eyes of a teenage prostitute who is afraid that she will be forced to have an abortion. Abortion is a big issue on the show, as it was not safe for women to have them as the tools that they used to get rid of the baby were primitive, unclean, and unsafe.
The midwives bond together through their work, through the joys and sorrows of child birthing, as they face the sadness of one of the extremely bright nuns deteriorating mentally as she became older. They have to do some of the toughest work with some of the most basic tools, and they do their best to serve the women of Poplar.
I love this show, as it is based on true stories and shows yet another example of strong women saving the lives of possibly thousands through their tireless and dedicated work. Although they were not recognized for quite some time, this show definitely shows them justice as their lives are portrayed through the actors and actresses and we in the present day get to see one of the most accurate depictions of early medical care. I would recommend this show to absolutely anyone, because everyone can take something from it and learn from the lives of these influential women.
Overall Rating: 6/5 stars