Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘Association for Improvements in Maternity Services’ Category

Following the recent screening of “Freedom for Birth” a film documentary discussing the plight of maternity services and midwifery world-wide I have put together an Action Plan of ideas that you may like to consider to support the midwives and maternity services.  Please do as much as you can to make things better for women today and our daughters in the future.


Please consider joining the following Facebook groups:

Independent Midwives UK

Fighting for Independent Midwives

The Birth I Want

ARM Conference 2012

One Born Every Minute—The Truth

One World Birth

Human Rights in Childbirth

Face of Birth


The Birth I Want:

Register an Interest in Independent Midwifery at:

The Association of Radical Midwives—Midwifery Matters:

The Association for Improvement in Maternity


The Face of Birth

Sign the petitions:


View the short version of “Freedom for Birth” available November 2012

Write a letter of support for Agnes to President of Hungary, János Áder



Royal College of Midwives (RCM), National Childbirth Trust (NCT) Independent Midwives UK (IM UK) Association of Radical Midwives (ARM) Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (AIMS) and the Albany Mums Support Group present:


Please consider joining us for this important Rally to support mothers and babies.  “Mothers and babies are the foundations of our society, what is more important than getting the foundations right?”

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity – with an election coming up – to send a very loud message, there is a real sense of all the different stakeholders being united in one voice and it could, with hindsight be seen as the turning point for the midwifery profession.

We demand that all women should have a midwife they can get to know, be able to access home birth, a local birth centre, and that there should be independent midwifery available as an option for women to choose.

Meet at 1.00PM in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Lambeth Road, SE14EQ

We will march to Whitehall to hand in a petition to the Health Minister and letters to the Prime Minister

Master of Ceremonies: Peter Duncan.  Speakers include: Professor Wendy Savage, AIMS Chair Beverley Beech, Albany Midwife Becky Reed, IM UK Board Member Annie Francis, NCT CEO Belinda Phipps, Albany Mums Support Group campaigner Emma Neamish and Duncan Fisher OBE


Joanna Moorhead writes in The Guardian about how hospitals are trying to reduce the trend of repeat caesareans

The caesarean section rate is shockingly high.  The Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (AIMS) wrote in 2004 that the caesarean rates had continued to rise to 23 per cent, but many hospitals had rates approaching 30 per cent, indeed The Portland private maternity hospital had almost a 90% section rate.  The national caesarean section rate has continued to rise and in 2007 – 2008 was quoted as 24.6% .

Moorhead’s article highlights the dilemma – one woman was encouraged to attempt a vaginal birth after having had a caesarean first time around – sadly this woman ended up with a repeat caesarean however another woman was supported by a sympathetic obstetrician and given information about the benefits of trying for a normal birth – this woman went on to have a normal birth and was very happy with the outcome.

In fact the chances of having a vaginal birth after a caesarean are actually very good (this is obviously something you will need to discuss with your midwife and obstetrician) and I am happy to report that I have supported many women to achieve this.  There are some women however who will need a caesarean and we need to be careful not to make them feel that they have failed when a caesarean is necessary.  It is important to remember that without recourse to good medical help some women and babies would not survive!

If this is something you wish to discuss further I would be happy to speak to you, feel free to contact me by email

I have also been given a copy of “Real Healing after Caesarean” by Martha Jesty which I confess I still have to read!

The Department of Health recommends that all newborn babies be
given a Vitamin K supplement at birth. Approximately 1:10,000
babies may have a rare condition known as haemorrhagic disease
of the newborn, a condition whereby the baby may have
spontaneous internal bleeding. Vitamin K is used in the blood
clotting mechanism.

Vitamin K is available by injection or orally and you should decide
whether or not you wish your baby to receive Vitamin K, and if you
do in what form. The booklet “Vitamin K and the Newborn”
produced by AIMS ( provides a detailed
discussion of the subject.

Babies at higher risk of haemorrhagic disease (Vitamin K
Deficiency Bleeding):

  • premature
  • complicated birth e.g. forceps/ventouse/caesarean section
  • have liver disease that may show as prolonged jaundice or have pale stools or dark urine
  • fail to take or find it hard to absorb feeds
  • are ill for other reasons
  • have bleeding or spontaneous bruising in early infancy

It may be helpful to increase Vitamin K in your diet from 36 weeks.
It is also important that from birth, until a year old if you notice
bleeding or bruising which is unexplained that you get this
investigated as a matter of urgency as it could be an indication of
haemorrhagic disease.

Foods containing Vitamin K include:

Yoghurt, alfalfa, egg yolk, soya oil, fish liver oils, wholegrain
cereals, cauliflower, turnips, green leafy vegetables, broccoli,
cabbage, lettuce, green tea and kelp.

I confess that I’ve been quiet – I’ve actually been away!  As I have no babies currently due (in my Independent Midwifery Practice we took advantage and went up to the wilds of Cumbria for a week and had a great time staying at Dent railway station – my husband is a train spotter!  So lots of walking, snow, eating and drinking for a week – fantastic.

Whilst away I saw a couple of interesting items in The Daily Telegraph.  One article discussed that scientists have found that young women are sensitive to babies physical appearance whereas post-menopausal women and men were less able to distinguish between babies.  The researchers believe that the difference could be a hormonal one and plan further research in relation to postnatal depression.

In the same newspaper there is an item discussing that early terminations of pregnancy (up to 9 weeks gestation) are to be provided in some GP surgeries

On a happier note, today I have been to a first birthday party – the baby was born at home a year ago.  Her mother had previously had a caesarean with her first baby but really wanted a natural birth second time around.  She laboured in a birthpool and had a relatively short and easy labour and birth second time around – wonderful!  It was lovely to visit and catch up with the family.

VBAC or vaginal birth after previous caesarean section has previously been controversial, but with better surgical procedures even doctors are keen that the majority of women attempt a vaginal birth next time as this is a safer option for both mother and baby.  Obviously it is important to review what happened during the last labour, and for some women a repeat caesarean may be the best option, but for many a vaginal birth will be possible.  Doctors and many midwives will recommend that a woman planning a VBAC give birth in hospital and that she be closely monitored, for example by having continuous external monitoring of the baby’s heart, and by having intravenous access in case of  uterine scar rupture which is a rare but very serious possibility.  Scar rupture rates are quoted at between 1:200 and 1:2000 depending upon which research you read, there is an excellent booklet discussing the subject “Birth after Caesarean” published by AIMS However there are some who believe that by labouring at home, in a calm and relaxed environment, with no monitors or drips, will give the woman the best chance of giving birth normally.  Indeed some hospitals are now comfortable with “allowing” VBAC clients into the birthing pool for labour.  Most midwives and doctors agree that women attempting a VBAC should not have their labour “interfered” with; it can be dangerous to induce or augment a labour when a woman has a scar on her uterus.  If you are considering a VBAC I recommend that you discuss the matter carefully with your midwife or doctor and give yourself the very best chance of having a normal birth next time – many, many women are now achieving VBACs, and indeed I know of several women who achieved vaginal births after several previous caesareans so it is possible!

I have just returned from an Association of Radical Midwives (ARM) meeting.  It was great to meet up with other midwives who feel passionate about normal birth.  Tonight we viewed a film about the “Lotus Birth” of twins, in a birthpool, at home in Australia; the film is available from


A Lotus Birth is when the umbilical cord is not cut after the birth of the baby, instead the baby remains attached to the cord and placenta until the cord naturally detaches at the baby’s umbilicus.


The placenta is usually salted and treated with herbs to preserve the placenta until it separates.  The cord dries quickly and shrinks in diameter and detaches within a few days after the birth.


There may be many reasons why families choose this unusual method of managing the ultimate separation of the baby from the placenta; they may have personal or spiritual beliefs about the significance of the placenta, but also it is true that the baby extra blood, via placental transfusion, which contains iron, red cells, stem cells and other nutrients if the cord is either left intact or left until the pulsating ceases.  Additionally advocates of Lotus birth are aware that the mother and baby are more likely to be left to “bond” and establish breastfeeding with the placenta remaining attached to the baby.


This raises other questions: that of when to cut the umbilical cord, and also the question of stem cell harvesting.  In the vast majority of births within the UK the mother is given an injection of an Oxytocic to speed up the delivery of the placenta as it is believed that this lessens the risk of post-partum haemorrhage (NICE, Intrapartum Care September 2007). This national guidance is questioned by some midwives and also Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (AIMS) (Delivering Your Placenta, The Third Stage 1999)


Routine stem cell collection is not recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists or the Royal College of Midwives however it is a question midwives are often asked about.  In a routine hospital environment the cord is quickly clamped and cut after birth, however in a physiologically managed third stage the baby receives the extra blood supply and also the stem cells.


On a separate and sad note, I acknowledge the death of Hope Williams one of the conjoined twins.