Search This Blog

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

You Tube film of freebirthing poetry

AIMS (Association for Improvements in The Maternity Services) has posted a 10 minute film on You Tube in which Gemma McKenzie has created poems from the narratives of free-birthing women.  It is  very moving and beautiful and disturbing - the women's words trouble (about the maternity services) and inspire (about women's strength and insight) at the same time.

Gemma McKenzie has researched women's experiences around free-birth and this use of i-poetry to convey her findings is a very powerful and effective way of communicating women's experiences and thoughts.  It puts women's voices at the centre of research instead of as an afterthought or appendix to the main report. 

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Hidden Gem: Northampton project to reduce midwifery stress and work unhappiness

 "Midwives" is the magazine of the Royal College of Midwives and is one of the dreariest reads imaginable.  It manages to kill all the wonders and glories of midwifery and birth stone dead in every issue.  The articles are formulaic, conservative, and firmly adherent to the current UK NHS medicalised model of birth, whilst making all the usual nods to political correctness.

November 2020's issue has 50 pages.  Tucked at the very back on pages 45 to 48 is one of the rare articles worth reading. Called "A Problem Shared" and written by Tara Pauley (currently deputy Head of Midwifery at The Rosie Hospital in Cambridge) and Matt Kendall, it describes a project the authors led at Northampton General Hospital maternity unit to reduce midwives' stress and unhappiness.

The project resulted from Professor Billie Hunter and team's report on the Work Health and Emotional Lives of Midwives (WHELM) which clearly showed that UK midwives experienced significantly higher levels of work-related stress, anxiety and depression than midwives in other participating countries.

What is heartening about this article is that it shows a real effort in one unit to take the WHELM findings seriously (as they should be taken) and do something about it.  The project was a creative and caring initiative that may well have a limited shelf life before being quietly forgotten, but it is one of those efforts that does shift culture and make a difference for whatever period it survives.  Tara and Matt used the Pathway to Excellence model to promote a "positive practice environment".  Of course other models are available, but the point is that managers need to invest money, time and effort into improving the maternity workplace culture.  This is something that needs care and attention in each and every unit if UK midwifery is to retain its precious midwives.

Any model is only as good as the people adopting and using it and leading its usage, but it is critical that all those who care about the workplace environment and deplore what the WHELM study found try to do something to alleviate the misery of too many UK midwives.  UM hopes that some of the gains in Northampton described in the article are ongoing or that, if they are not, that the project is revisited and revised.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

AIMS Covid-19 and maternal choices journal.

The AIMS Journal (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services) is out online and this edition is full of women's birth stories of being pregnant and having a baby during the Covid-19 lockdown.  It includes stories of induction, freebirth, homebirth, Caesarean birth amongst others, and how each woman came to make or be forced into those choices.  It's a moving and useful read for everyone facing those choices at the present time.

AIMS Helpline is, as ever, open:

AIMS Helpline
The Helpline is intended for anyone using the maternity services or their supporters to seek information and support.
This email will go to a group of AIMS volunteers and someone will respond as soon as possible.

AIMS supports all maternity service users to navigate the system as it exists, and campaigns for a system which truly meets the needs of all. The AIMS Helpline volunteers are all experienced in providing information and support on pregnancy and birth issues. We do not give medical advice, but instead we focus on helping those who contact the Helpline to find the information that they need to make informed decisions which are right for them, and support them to have their decision respected by their health care providers. They are also able to provide a listening ear and practical support for women who are unhappy with their experiences.
Telephone: +44 (0) 300 365 0663
This phone number will connect you to an AIMS volunteer when possible, otherwise please leave us a message, or email us, and someone will get back to you.

(Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and will be covered by phone contract inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls. See for further details)

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Something useful from the Royal College of Midwives (!)

UM is pleased to report finding something of interest and usefulness on the RCM website!

Since the unjustified smothering of the Normal Birth Campaign by the RCM about 4 or 5 years ago and the removal of the excellent NBC resources from the RCM website, there has been very little of interest on it.  

However this may be of interest to all those setting up (minus the present SARs-Covid-2 interruption) much longed for and safety-enhancing Continuity of Care schemes: 

It's a little sparse on detail but the issue of proper rostering and staffing is fundamental to CoC and it is faintly encouraging to see the RCM has some grasp of this.