Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘baby’ Category

On Thursday 20th September women (and men) around the world will be hosting film screenings to raise the profile of midwifery.  I am joining this event because I passionately believe that women are entitled to better maternity care.

Everyone in the UK knows that our maternity services are in crisis and indeed the Royal College of Midwives has strongly stated this.

I am planning to take a break from midwifery as I am totally burnt out … this is partly the demands of being on-call 24/7 for the past 8 years, but it is also due to the increasing scrutiny, red tape  and pressures on midwives.  I believe that most midwives do their very best for women.  Of course there are some rouge practitioners and the public needs to be protected against them, but the pressures on midwives are immense; more paperwork, more investigations of our practice, pressures of working with a system that is barely fit for purpose ….

At the same time Independent Midwifery, which gives “gold standard” care is set to become illegal unless an eleventh hour solution can be found to provide us with Professional Indemnity Insurance which will become mandatory from October 2013.

What will happen to these highly skilled midwives and the clients they currently care for?  I’m afraid that I feel ground down and beaten by all that is currently happening in midwifery … it is so sad, midwifery and childbirth has been my passion and my life for the past 20 years!

So, as my swan song to midwifery (for now at least) I am hosting this film showing in Milton Keynes and I hope this will serve to raise the profile of midwifery and to mobilise women to demand the service they deserve.

FREEDOM FOR BIRTH FILM SCREENING Thursday 20th September 2012 Two showings, 1pm and 7pm

The Bee House

Interchange House

Howard Way

Newport Pagnell

MK16 9PX

  • Entrance by donation – suggested donation £5 (Any profits to be donated to Midwifery Campaign)
  • Refreshments available at the venue
  • Birth related Exhibition and discussion after film showing

ALL WELCOME – please advertise widely! Please print and display the attached poster

For further information & to book a seat please email info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

FREEDOM FOR BIRTH – GLOBAL FILM LAUNCHA new documentary that reframes childbirth as the most pressing global Human Rights issue today is launching with hundreds of premieres all over the world on the same day, Thursday 20th September 2012.

Freedom For Birth is a 60 minute campaigning documentary featuring a Who’s Who of leading birth experts and international Human Rights lawyers all calling for radical change to the world’s maternity systems.

Hermine Hayes-Klein, US lawyer and organiser of the recent Human Rights in Childbirth Conference at the Hague, the Netherlands says, “the way that childbirth is being managed in many countries around the world is deeply problematic. Millions of pregnant women are pushed into hospitals, pushed onto their back and cut open. They are subject to unnecessary pharmaceutical and surgical interventions that their care providers openly admit to imposing on them for reasons of finance and convenience. Women around the world are waking up to the fact that childbirth doesn’t have to be like this and it shouldn’t. Disrespect and abuse are not the necessary price of safety”.

Made by British filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Freedom For Birth film tells the story of an Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb who has been jailed for supporting women giving birth at home. One of the home birth mothers supported by Ms Gereb decided to take a stand.

When pregnant with her second child, Anna Ternovsky took her country to the European Court of Human Rights and won a landmark case that has major implications for childbirth around the world.

Toni Harman, one of the filmmakers says, “the Ternovsky vs Hungary ruling at the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 means that now in Europe, every birthing woman has the legal right to decide where and how she gives birth. And across the world, it means that if a woman feels like her Human Rights are being violated because her birth choices are not being fully supported, she could use the power of the law to protect those rights. With the release of “Freedom For Birth”, we hope millions of women become aware of their legal rights and so our film has the potential to spark a revolution in maternity care across the world. In fact, we are calling this the Mothers’ Revolution.”

Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), says: “A safe childbirth should be a fundamental human right for women. Sadly, for many, many millions of women and their babies across the world this is not the case. The world is desperately short of the people who can help to ensure and deliver this human right; midwives. There is a real need for leaders of nations to invest in midwifery care in their countries. I hope that the making of this film which the RCM is supporting with a screening will go a long way to help make skilled maternity care a reality for those women who currently do not have access to it.”

Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives adds, “Too many women across the world are dying or suffering terribly because of a lack of skilled maternity care. This is unacceptable and I call on all Governments across the world to give women the right and access to safe care in pregnancy and childbirth.”

Ms. Hayes-Klein concludes, “Freedom For Birth” holds the answer to changing the system. Birth will change when women realise they have a right to meaningful support for childbirth and claim that right. Birth will change when women stand up against the abuses that are currently suffered in such high numbers and say, No More.”

The filmmakers are aiming for 1,000 screenings happening across the world on Thursday 20th September, 2012. The countries with confirmed screenings include the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Belgium, Hungary, Israel, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Panama, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, China, South Africa and India.

Each screening is being organised by local birth campaigners.

Freedom For Birth is Harman and Wakeford’s third documentary film about birth. They were inspired to make films about following their own difficult birth of their daughter four years ago. A cascade of interventions in their birth led to an emergency caesarean section.

Contact Information:

Toni Harman, Producer/Director, Freedom For Birth info@altofilms.com +44 (0) 1273 747837

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Optimal Fetal Positioning (OFP) – Encouraging your baby into the best position for birth.  How and why? (including quotes from local independent midwife Valerie Gommon)

The best position for birth is when the baby’s head is down and facing the mothers back and baby’s spine is to the left of your navel (known as left anterior/lateral position).  In this position the baby can pass most easily through the mothers pelvis.  This will ensure a quicker and easier delivery.

Towards the end of pregnancy it is advisable not to slump back on the sofa as gravity will encourage your baby’s  spine (the heaviest part of her body) to swing back towards yours!  Instead, remember the good posture you have worked so hard to develop during your pregnancy yoga classes!  This will gently tilt your pelvis forwards, as well as maximise the space your baby has to move around in.  Whenever possible lean forwards to rest e.g over a yoga ball, table or legs wide over a backwards facing chair.  As in our yoga classes, remember to use cushions to allow your hips to be level or higher than your knees when sitting.  Use cat pose when ever you have a moment.  Valerie also suggests: “getting  onto your hands and knees to wash the kitchen floor or play with your toddler!” or just enjoy moving with your breath!
Another suggestion is that you “lie on your left side on the sofa with your belly hanging slightly over the edge – a nice relaxing way of encouraging your baby into the best position!” (Valerie Gommon).
However, do keep things in perspective if hoping to turn your baby…be comfortable, stay active and above all enjoy your pregnancy.
Remember babies can decide to turn right up to the last minute and some babies are just happy where they are whatever plans you might have for them!!
Sarah Cooper.

I was recently asked a question about painful stitches/perineum after childbirth  and thought it would be useful to share my reply.

I’m not so sure you were told all this! You *should* have been, but sometimes things get missed in the busy hurly burly of hospitals!
Okay, so the pain … I take it this is when you wee? This may well have passed by now? This can be eased by weeing in the bath or shower or by pouring water from a bottle of jug over yourself as you pass urine. The pain gradually lessens but it should already have started to improve. If it is getting worse then you definitely need to get your midwife to check you out.

Don’t know whether you have opened your bowels yet, or if this is what you are referring too? Women are naturally worried about the first time after stitches. I usually suggest that if a woman is anxious that she might like to support the perineum (the stitched area) with some toilet paper when she goes to the loo. This is mostly a psychological prop, but … if it works … it will be fine I promise! Just make sure you drink plenty of fluids (this will also help dilute the urine) and eat so that you don’t get constipated.

Regarding the bleeding, it is normal to bleed for several weeks after having a baby. Again, the bleeding quickly lessens and will often stop only to start again … it is not unusual to bleed on and off for somewhere between 2 – 6 weeks after having a baby.

Your midwife will be very happy to have a look at your stitches and will usually ask you if you are comfortable or not. If you are unsure definitely ask her to look as occasionally they can become infected and need treatment.

Hope you soon feel more comfortable … in the meantime enjoy your new baby.

Another Guest Blog from Sheila Sheppard, Nutritional Therapist.

We know that a baby is nourished in the womb not only by what its mother eats during pregnancy, but also by her body. It’s important, therefore, to be well nourished prior to, throughout and beyond pregnancy to protect your own health.

Here is just one example of how important it is for you to meet your baby’s nutritional needs as well as your own, throughout pregnancy and beyond.

Three weeks after conception, your baby’s brain begins to form, and continues to develop rapidly throughout your pregnancy. The brain is 60% fat and the two most important components are DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid from fish) and ARA (arachidonic acid, from meat, eggs and dairy). These fats are transferred across the placenta and are also present in human milk; they are accumulated in the brain and retina during foetal and infant development.

Most of us consume plenty of foods with ARA so this isn’t usually a worry, unless mum is vegetarian or vegan. Omega-3 is another matter though, as many people don’t eat any fish at all, or avoid oily fish such as salmon, pilchards, sardines, mackerel and tuna.

In her third trimester, the mother needs to eat foods rich in DHA: the placenta takes DHA from her blood and concentrates it in the baby’s circulation; the baby’s DHA level is now double his mother’s.  If she has low blood levels of DHA (because she’s not eating much – or any), DHA is also taken from the richest store – her own brain.  This may account for the slight shrinkage of women’s brain cells and the poor concentration experienced during late pregnancy. The baby continues to need DHA in his milk up to around 4 months and mum needs to keep up a steady intake to protect her own stores of DHA while making sure baby gets enough too.

Research shows that deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in pregnancy and beyond is linked to post-natal depression, and to behavioural, learning and visual difficulties in children.

Oily fish is recommended 2-3 times per week, and if you can’t manage this then you should seek professional recommendation of a fish oil supplement with good levels of DHA; vegetarian DHA supplements are made from algae. You could also enjoy a regular serving of home made taramasalata (made from fish eggs), a recipe for this is on my website www.nutribaby.co.uk/recipes.php. If you’d like to know more about nutrition in pregnancy, for infants or for weaning, please get in touch.

 

Sheila Sheppard Dip NT, mBANT, CNHC

NutriBaby

Sheila@nutribaby.co.uk

07799 132999

16th April 2012

A guest blog written by Moira D’Arcy, Women’s Health Physiotherapist at St Judes Clinic, Leighton Buzzard.

Protecting Your Back During Pregnancy

During pregnancy changes in your body can affect your back and your posture.  As the weeks pass your weight is no longer centred in the middle of your pelvis but moves forward with the weight of the growing baby.  For most women their posture adapts to compensate for this shift and you may find yourself either slumping forward and flattening out the curve in your low back, or counter balancing the weight by leaning back, at your upper body, which leads to a greater curve and a shift of your weight on to your heels.  The muscles of your back, lower abdomen and your pelvic floor are designed to move and stabilise the joints in your back and pelvis but as your baby grows they are put under more potential strain.  This, along with the adaptations you may make to your changing shape, combined with hormonal (hormones are chemicals that carry messages around your body) changes that loosen the ligaments around the pelvis, can result in low back pain, upper back pain, pubic bone discomfort and general postural strain.

What can you do to reduce those risks?

Stand Tall – imagine that someone is making you feel taller by pulling a string attached at the back and top of your head at the same time as you tightening your tummy muscles and pelvic floor as much as you are able.

Sit Correctly
– make sure your back is well supported. You may prefer a dining chair to a soft chair or sofa.  Placing a small rolled up towel in the hollow of your back may help if you are finding your back is adopting a flattened posture.

Avoid Heavy Lifting
– Your loosened ligaments make them vulnerable so ask for help whenever possible.  If you do have to lift, make sure you hold the object close to your body, and bend your knees rather than your back.  If you are shopping divide your goods into equal loads for each hand.

Wear Comfortable Shoes
– Generally, if you are finding the curve in your low back increasing, flat shoes may be more comfortable as heels will accentuate the curve.

Adapt The Way You Carry Out Your Chores
– eg when vacuuming stand in a walking position, with the Hoover in front of you, then move your feet to the next area and Hoover in front of you again.  Don’t be tempted to push it so far away from your body that you end up bending and twisting your back.

Exercise Regularly
– but unfamiliar routines may damage the joints that loosen during pregnancy so it is wise to seek advice if you are unsure of the suitability of your exercise regime. The most appropriate forms of exercise include swimming, walking, aqua natal classes, Pilates and yoga.  It is important that the instructor is qualified or experienced in teaching pregnant women.  If you are experiencing pelvic girdle pain, or symphysis pubic dysfunction, then always seek advice from a Chartered Physiotherapist prior to beginning any exercise.

You can reduce the risks to your pelvic area and pubic joint by:

 

  1. Standing evenly on both feet.
  2. Sitting on both buttocks and not crossing your legs.
  3. If you have other small children don’t carry them on one hip.
  4. Avoid movements where you are swinging your leg sideways, for example when you get in and out of bed, or a car, turn your hips, pelvis and back in the same direction, while keeping your back straight, so you are moving as a whole and not twisting.

Once your baby is born there is a period of time, while your hormones re-adjust and you resume your usual tasks, when your spine remains susceptible to damage.  This may even be increased by a busy, unfamiliar schedule involving lifting and carrying car seats and prams, combined with feeding postures, picking baby up from their crib and carrying them. It is important to protect your back in the same way you did when you were pregnant.

If you find you cannot resolve your discomfort with this simple advice seek the help of a Chartered Physiotherapist who will be able to identify your specific problems and aggravating activities.  They can then provide you with a tailored programme that will fit in with your schedule.  They can also advise and provide you with supports to relieve/reduce low back pain and pelvic girdle discomfort. 

This information is provided by St Judes Clinic and is intended as general advice during and after pregnancy.  For more detailed advice please book an assessment with us or seek further medical advice from your GP.

Moira D’Arcy  Grad Dip Phys MCSP AACP APPI

Practice Principal

St Judes Clinic

26 Lake Street

Leighton Buzzard

LU7 1RX

Tel: 01525 377751

E-mail: enquiries@stjudesclinic.com

http://www.stjudesclinic.com/health/pregnancy/

Another Guest Blog, this time written by Emily Malleson from Morrck Baby Hoodies www.morrck.com 

According to the UK Department of Transport, 60 to 80% of all car seats are used incorrectly, with harness tension being the single biggest failing. Getting the correct harness tension is even more difficult in winter as it is hard to tell whether you have a good harness fit if a child is wearing a thick coat.

To get the correct harness tension over a puffy snowsuit or thick coat, a parent really has to tighten it substantially, which can make the child uncomfortable as their freedom of movement is restricted. Being tightly strapped in a thick coat can also lead to the child overheating once the car warms up.

To test whether you have correct harness tension when using a coat or snowsuit, you can do the two finger test: 

  1. Put the coat on the child.
  2. Strap the child into the car seat and tighten to ensure a snug fit.
  3. Remove the child from the car seat – without loosening the straps.
  4. Take the coat off the child.
  5. Strap the child back into the seat – but don’t adjust the straps.

 Do the Two finger test.  If you can fit more than two fingers underneath the harness at the child’s shoulder bone, the harness tension needs to be tightened or you should avoid using the coat in the car seat.

The safest bet is to strap the child into their seat correctly wearing their normal indoor clothing so you can be assured of the correct harness tension.  To keep them warm before the car has had a chance to heat up, parents can place a coat or blanket over the top of their child, or use a product which is designed expressly for this purpose. The key thing is to ensure that whatever is used, still gives you easy access to the harness release button on the car seat so that they can be released easily in an emergency.  You should also make sure that when you buy the car seat it is the correct one for your car and it is fitted correctly.

Morrck baby hoodies are designed to fit in your car seat or buggy or anything with a 5 point harness, avoiding the need to use other outdoor clothing, you can just wrap and go.   The harness feeds through the openings in the travel wrap and fastens over baby’s indoor clothing. This provides extra protection across your baby’s forehead and ears in cold, windy weather and lies completely flat behind your baby’s head when it’s not being worn.

Morrck’s Baby Hoodie has been tested by an independent testing facility and it was certified as having passed the relevant elements of the ECE Reg R44.04 car seat safety test. Baby Hoodies are available from www.morrck.co.uk

Where to start?  Every day is different, so I’m going to give you a flavour of the sort of things I get up to.

Of course I have antenatal appointments; from the first tentative telephone enquiry I then arrange to meet up with a potential client (usually for an hour or so) so that we can discuss their past experiences, their hopes for this pregnancy, their concerns and most importantly so that they can get a “feel” as to whether they actually like and trust me.  Once a couple have decided to book me as their midwife I then usually give all their antenatal care in their own home (although I have done antenatal visits in The Bank of England medical room!).  The format of visits is that I carry out all the usual blood tests, urine and blood pressure checks, but also leave a lot of time for discussion so that over the course of the pregnancy we cover issues such as waterbirth, Vitamin K, when to call me and so on.

My clients come from a wide area – I am happy to take clients who live within approximately an hour’s radius of my home in Leighton Buzzard – so I do spend a fair bit of time driving, as well as liaising with G.P.’s and hospitals where necessary.

Four times a year I jointly organise an Antenatal Exhibition, this is an opportunity for pregnant couples to gather information about breastfeeding, pregnancy yoga, cloth nappies and the like.  We also organise Birth Preparation Workshops and am often to be found at the Community Desk in Central Milton Keynes on hand to speak to expectant parents and also regularly attend Study Day’s and midwifery meetings to ensure that I keep myself up-to-date with current research.

Obviously I spend much of my time being “on-call” for births.  My own family are now pretty much grown-up and the commitment isn’t as big as one might imagine as I rarely have more than two births during a month – it is important that I don’t over-commit myself as the whole point of what I do is that I guarantee to be there for the birth.  Babies don’t always read the text books though!  I have had three births in one week, as of course some babies do come early and some come late!  As you will appreciate, the birth is the big event, and it can on occasion go on for some time.

Baby being here doesn’t mean that my job ends!  In fact, postnatal visiting is often one of the busiest times as the family may need quite a lot of support in the early days.  The majority of my clients choose to give birth at home; however some either need to, or choose to give birth in hospital.

I visit my clients for up to four weeks postnatally and it is a joy to see the baby thriving and although discharging clients is always tinged with sadness it is also great to know that I have played a part in helping the family on to the next stage of their life.  (I do usually keep in touch, perhaps not as often as I would like, but I often get e-mails and photographs and usually pop in when I’m passing!).

So, in summary I guess the main differences between me and an NHS midwife are that you are buying my time; antenatal visits usually take around an hour and a half (instead of perhaps 10 – 15 minutes at your local surgery), are arranged more frequently and take place at a time and place to suit you. Most importantly you will receive full continuity of care – I will see you at each visit to build our relationship and plan your care and you will know that (barring exceptional circumstances) I will be with you in labour and available 24/7 for urgent help.

I am always happy to discuss anything that you are concerned about; please do feel free to call.

Written by Valerie Gommon, BA (Hons), RM, Independent Midwife

www.3shiresmidwife.co.uk 01525 385153


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