The Royal College of Midwives is balloting its members about industrial action this week in its row with the Government over pay. Results are expected on Friday. Jennifer Kelsall is a midwife at Wynthenshawe Maternity Hospital, south Manchester.
Training: five and a half years

Experience: 28 years

Hours: 32 a week

Salary: £l6,640 annually (Hourly rate £10)

The job: "The hospital delivered 2,900 babies last year. I've lost count of how many I've delivered, it must be hundreds. But midwifery isn't just a question of fishing the baby out. It's about supporting the woman before and after. One day I'll be on the antenatal ward looking after ladies with high blood pressure, the next I'll be in the theatre, scrubbing down for a Caesarean.

"We try to give continuity of care. If I admit someone at 8am, I'll care for her, monitor her progress and take her across to the delivery suite. Hopefully, I'll deliver her before I go off duty, then I'll take her back to the ward, give her a bath and get her into bed. That's the ideal anyway. I'll deliver people in any way they want, so long as it's safe: standing up, on a chair, on the floor. If it's a normal labour, she won't see a doctor, but you have to know when to send for help."

Pros: "Enabling a woman to have the best possible birth experience."

Cons: "Staff shortages. When the ward clerk is away and the phone is going all the time, when you've run out of linen without noticing. Sometimes people are coming through the door so fast, you rush around, and at the end of the day you feel the quality of care is less than you would like.

"Morale is very low. Midwives feel undervalued, underpaid and overworked."