Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘Private midwife’ Category

Very sadly it looks fairly certain that Independent Midwifery will end in October 2013.  The Government and Nursing and Midwifery Council have for a long time been recommending that Independent Midwives should have professional indemnity insurance (negligence insurance) despite it not being commercially available in the marketplace i.e. insurers do not provide this insurance for midwives.  You can read more about the current situation here http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/?node=11615

An E.U. Directive is now due to come into force to implement this change and our current information is that it will be illegal for us to practice without professional indemnity insurance from October 2013.  This means that women will be denied the choice of choosing an Independent Midwife and we will be denied the choice of working independently and will be forced to stop practising or to return into the NHS.

The Independent Midwives UK organisation has been working tirelessly for years to find a solution and it is just possible that an eleventh hour solution will be found but this is now looking unlikely.

A group of midwives have formed an organisation called Neighbourhood Midwives www.neighbourhoodmidwives.org.uk/ and are working towards setting up an employee-owned social enterprise organization, to provide an NHS commissioned caseload midwifery homebirth service, based in the local community.  This may prove to be a workable alternative to Independent Midwifery but at present (if it comes to fruition) the service will only be able to accept “low-risk” women and this is of concern to all of us who have supported women with more complex situations, for example first time mothers, vaginal birth after a previous caesarean, twins, breech birth and women who are not deemed “low risk”.  The aim of Neighbourhood Midwives will be to extend their remit to include more women as soon as possible.

There is already a precedent for this type of care as One to One Midwives in Liverpool www.onetoonemidwives.org have already managed to set up a caseloading midwifery service (similar to independent midwifery in that a woman will care for a caseload of women throughout the whole of the pregnancy, birth and postnatal period) within the NHS.

It is a very sad time for midwifery and for women’s choice, but perhaps good things will come out of it, I certainly hope so.

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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

No two pregnancies are the same, so it is very important that you continue to look after yourself by eating and resting as much as you possibly can.  Remember this time you are also looking after your little one(s) too.  You may feel better or more tired this time around; and certainly having a toddler is hard work.  If your toddler sleeps then you should rest and not rush around doing housework!  If you are exhausted try asking a friend if they would have your toddler for a couple of hours so you can rest.  I can’t stress enough that you need to eat a good diet – ensure that you eat plenty of protein and iron rich foods.

You may notice that you “show” earlier second time around, this is because your tummy muscles have been stretched before and is quite normal.  You may also notice baby movements a little earlier because you know what you are looking for, but don’t worry if you don’t!

Some women say that they are anxious about labour second time around; if you had a difficult labour talk to your midwife about it – ask her what happened and why it happened and what are the chances of it happening again, however second births are usually much easier and shorter.  It is usual to be a bit anxious about labour – most women are, but remember you did it last time and you can do it again!

I think it is definitely worth attending childbirth classes if you can – I had four children and I went to classes each time – it gives you time to concentrate on this pregnancy and this new baby; and a birth plan is a great idea, second time around you are better prepared as you know what to expect, you know what you want and don’t want to happen so put it down into a birth plan and if you need advice speak to your midwife.

Successive reports have called for one-to-one care in labour as all outcomes are improved, for example women are more likely to have a normal birth if they receive one-to-one care.  However, to some women this means having the same midwife from booking, through the antenatal period, labour and birth and until postnatal discharge – this type of care may not be available in your area unless you employ an Independent Midwife www.independentmidwives.org.uk.

Consider having your baby at home, there are so many benefits, women usually have shorter and easier labours and this time you will be better able to read your body and can stay at home if you feel comfortable and relaxed and you won’t have to leave your first child whilst you are in hospital.  Staying upright and active will help with the contractions and also keep the baby in the best possible position for birth, but your body will tell you what you need to do; try to relax and have faith in the birthing process.

Women generally recover quicker second time around, this is partly because labour is usually quicker and easier – and also because being an experienced mother usually helps to establish feeding more quickly.

Unfortunately, the more babies you have, the stronger the after pains usually are – this is because your uterus is having to work harder to contract.  Ask for paracetamol which will help and is perfectly safe to take.

Remember that your other child(ren) will need extra love and reassurance – your new baby is much tougher than you think, try to involve the older sibling(s) in what you are doing and have patience – it is usual for children to regress a bit when they have a new baby in the house.  Accept any help that is offered and consider staying in your pyjamas for a few days – it shows that you are not at full strength.  I think women try too hard to be superwoman, just allow yourself some time to enjoy your new baby – they aren’t babies for long, although it sometimes feels like it when you are in the thick of it!

Another guest blog by Sarah:

Harlow Zen’s Birth Story

Harlow is my third baby having had Rohan 9 years previously and Nayt almost 8 years ago.  With Rohan I was induced at 10 days late, in hospital, with an epidural given as I was told he was back to back and it would be too painful, I ended up after 17 hours flat on my back, with a nasty tear and a pretty miserable painful experience to tell but a beautiful baby nonetheless.  I had Nayt 16 months later and keen to never set foot in a hospital again, we used 2 Independent Midwives and had an amazing natural home water birth, in less than 4 hours with no pain relief, no stitches and 23 days late! I was out and about within days, a completely different experience to my first. Both babies were reasonable sizes at 8lb 13oz and 9lb 2oz respectively.

With Harlow, because he was my husbands first and I was a bit rusty having had a good few years off baby making, we decided to use another Independent Midwife as the 1-2-1 care is like nothing else, and gives you the confidence that you will get the best birth outcome and overall experience possible, as they really get to know and understand you.  As my pregnancy progressed it was clear this baby was going to be on the large size, which I had kind of expected. I was advised to cut down on sugar but with a massive cake craving, this didn’t really happen, so I tried damage limitation by continuing to ride as long as I could and towards the end to swim daily and keep up with walking the dog.

I think my confidence in giving birth was knocked a bit towards the end because I had to have a series of late scans to check the placental position, as was slightly lying low at the 20 week scan. This showed up that at 34 weeks the baby was the size of a full term baby. I am reasonable at simple maths, and that added up to one BIG bubba!!

Because of this, I was told to expect an early baby. Unlike my other two pregnancies where I had no pre-labour signs whatsoever, I was starting to get runs of proper contractions about 3 weeks prior to my due date. I had so many signs in fact that I have decided there are no signs until the baby is literally crowning!! Along with contractions, I was nesting, had a show,  had a permanently bad tummy, babies head engaged….never happened to me before labour with the other two, bump shifted down….and then my due date came and went…and my bump un-engaged and shifted up!!!

On Tuesday 18th May after my husband Adam had taken the kids to school I started to get decent contractions. I really felt like today was the day. By midday they had gone, and annoyed I took my dog on a hill walk hoping to jolt the baby out with some gravity! Nothing! I was really sure that was it too, as my dog Phoebe had been all over protective, following me around and sleeping beside me wherever I went.

They started again around 11pm, but having sent our midwife numerous ‘I think its started’ texts over the last few weeks, decided to sleep on it.  At 1.55am Wednesday 19th May I woke up with a jolt as my waters literally burst all over the place. I managed eventually to wake my husband up who had fallen asleep on the sofa downstairs and after a massive clean up operation we called our midwife Valerie and she came out straight away.

The contractions had stopped but restarted around 3am and were roughly every 3 mins, reasonably painful (a 5-6) but not lasting too long. We all tried to get some sleep at 6am, but the contractions slowed down a lot.  By the time my kids woke up and we had agreed they could take the day off school, they were back to quite painful and we all thought finally ‘this is it!’. By about 9.30am I got into the birth pool my husband had busied himself filling and my labour ground to a halt and slowed down. My parents came and took the kids out for lunch as it was my Dads birthday, and gave me a bit of space and peace. At 1pm-ish we asked Valerie to examine me and I was disappointed to find I was barely dilated, and all that pain and hard work had merely helped Harlow to get into a better position.  Valerie left for home and me and Adam went for a walk, had some lunch and then at 5.20pm decided to get some sleep.  My kids were sent off to their rooms to watch a film.

At this point I was feeling despondent and was sure my pain threshold was rubbish. I started soon after to get contractions every 8-9 mins, lasting almost 2 mins and they were really painful. The peaks seemed to last for 40 seconds before subsiding. By almost 7pm I was crying and convinced I was still about 3 cm dilated.  I got very emotional and was convinced I would end up in hospital with a c-section. Adam was amazing and really supported me. He suggested we call Valerie, who had just text me. She came out with the entonox and as soon as she arrived I was getting the urge to push. I was on all fours and could not move into any other position…how I got downstairs I have no idea!!!

I managed to get downstairs and Adam re-filled the pool which we had drained down partially earlier.  I got in, and contractions were very close, strong and the peak lasted ages. Adam was great and helped me get the gas and air when I needed it, and provided emotional support as well as an arm for me to dig my nails in (sorry Adam!!), and Valerie helped me to get past the panicky ‘I cant do this’ with encouragement that I could really trust in.  At 8.20pm I could feel Harlow move down and he was born in the birth pool at 8.40pm. Valerie had called my kids down and they both watched their little brothers entrance into the world.

Harlow was born behind me, so with some jigging I was able to climb over my cord and hold him.  He cried a little and had a feed quite soon afterwards.  He was covered in vernix and his skin felt so soft.  He looked just like 3d scan picture and apparently my first words were ‘Hello Harlow’.  Adam cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and Valerie tied the cord with a cord tie I made specially for the event, and as I delivered the placenta naturally an hour later, Adam, and the kids had all taken turns to hold Harlow and make their introductions. It was the most special sight ever and something they will never forget, nor will I.

At 10.30pm we sent the kids to bed, and after a glass of champagne with Valerie; myself, Adam and Harlow settled down for our first night together. Perfect.

We were all a bit shocked that Harlow tipped the scales at 10lb 6oz, and I got away with a tiny tear and a graze and no stitches!! It was a more painful labour than Nayts birth, and the longest overall labour, but an amazing experience that 5 days after the event makes me ask ‘when can I do it again’???.

This is a guest blog, written by one of my clients.

My name is Donna and I am a mother of three.  Two year old Grace and nine week old fraternal twin girls Olivia and Faith.

My husband Paul and I had always agreed that we didn’t want a big age gap between our children so when Grace was one year old, we decided to begin trying for baby number two.  I fell pregnant fairly quickly but unfortunately suffered a miscarriage at 5 weeks which was very upsetting.  After a few weeks we were ready to try again and as before, I fell pregnant within a couple of months.

I was very anxious during the first few weeks hoping that this time I would hold onto the baby.  At 12 weeks it was time for the scan.  I was feeling quite relaxed as the pregnancy was going well and I was feeling extremely sick which I thought was a good sign.

The last thing on my mind was the fact that I could be carrying twins.  When the ultrasonographer casually told us ‘oh, you have two in there’, we knew that our lives were going to change forever.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – so I did both!  Everyone in the room was so excited for us but my husband and I were just stunned.  His face was a picture.  They told me that the reason why I had felt so sick was due to the additional hormone racing round my body. They also told us that the twins were fraternal and each had their own placenta and were in their own sac which is the safest type of twin pregnancy.

The first feeling I had once I had calmed down was that of being pregnant for the first time.  My pregnancy suddenly went from having a singleton baby and feeling confident that I had done this before so it will be ok, to all the anxieties of a first time pregnancy.

I knew that I had to do my research so as I could make some informed decisions about my pregnancy and birth.  When I told the ultrasonographer that I was planning a home birth, her reaction was ‘oh, you won’t be able to do that with twins’.  I had a fantastic pregnancy with Grace and had her at home in a birthing pool.  The thought of having to follow a medical route and have my babies in hospital filled me with dread.

As with my first pregnancy, I chose to take on an independent midwife.  This was my preference as I knew I would be less likely to end up with a hospital birth.  I made sure I looked after myself by eating well, getting plenty of rest (as much as Grace would allow me!) and exercised regularly.  I found swimming was great for keeping me fit and taking the weight off my bump.  I had regular scans to check on the twins’ development and position.  Throughout the pregnancy, Olivia (first born) remained head down and Faith was breech.  I knew that this wasn’t ideal but also knew after doing some research that as long as Olivia remained head down and although a little more risky, I could still safely deliver Faith as breech.  At 38 weeks I went for my final scan and to my surprise, Faith had done a full turn and was now head down along with Olivia.  The perfect combination for birth.

We had put together a birth plan that covered every eventuality if I needed to be transferred to hospital at any stage.  Two days after my last scan; my waters broke at 9.30pm when I was lying in bed.  I felt a pop and then a head drop down.  I walked into the bathroom and called downstairs for Paul saying ‘I think my waters have broken!’  He chased upstairs and I told him to call the midwife.  My contractions started almost immediately after my waters broke.  I spoke to my midwife and she told me to go back to bed as things may not start to happen until the morning and I would need my rest.  Olivia was not going to wait until morning.  I came downstairs and stood in the bathroom leaning over the toilet with my contractions coming fast and furious.  I tried the TENS machine but that didn’t really work for me.  Paul was in the dining room putting together the birthing pool which I got into as soon as it was ready.  The relief was immense.  I had heard that water was the most effective pain relief next to an epidural – I can well believe that.

I had four midwives looking after me and the babies and they all arrived at my house in time.  It was all happening so quickly and Olivia was born in the pool at 11.55pm.  She shot out and I heard her crying straight away.  I stood up and held my baby; I was elated and also amazed that my babies would have their own birthdays.  One of my midwives held my stomach to make sure that Faith fell and engaged in the right position.  We knew she was head down so we needed to make sure she stayed that way.  We decided to wait for my labour to progress naturally however, it slowed down.  I got out of the pool to walk around and see if I could get it started again.  Four hours passed and a decision was made to break the waters around Faith as the midwife discovered they were still intact.  As soon as the waters were broken, Faith was born on the sofa, again extremely quickly.

She cried straight away and the midwife placed her on me so as I could give her a cuddle and have skin to skin contact.  Another of the midwives was looking after Olivia.  Both my babies were born healthy and I couldn’t have been happier than I was just then.

The down side was that I now had to deliver the placentae.  I was so tired but knew I had to keep going.  One of my midwives helped to keep me relaxed with hypnobirthing techniques and control my breathing.  The placentae had fused together and were not budging.  With a combination of experience from my midwives and a hot towel placed across my stomach, the placenta moved and came away.  If it hadn’t been for the determination and skill of the team of midwives, I think I would have ended up in hospital with a retained placenta and that would have been disappointing after going through the entire birth at home.

So all was well.  I was in good health and although extremely tired, felt elated and proud that I had accomplished the birth I wanted.  My husband Paul was fantastic during and after the birth and I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive birthing partner.

A home birth is not for everyone and if there had been a health issue with either myself or my babies, I would have chosen hospital care.

I wanted to share my story so as other women can see that you do have choices during pregnancy even when you are having twins and you can make decisions that are right for you.  For more information about twin and multiple pregnancies visit www.tamba.org.uk

Donna has also set up a website which offers information about homebirth; she offers a free ebook at www.happyhomebirth.com

I guess this may be more useful if you are planning to hire an Independent Midwife as with the NHS there is less choice, but you still do have a choice of midwife and should remember that if you don’t get on with your midwife you can ask the local Supervisor of Midwives (at the local maternity unit) to help you to find a new midwife.

If looking for an Independent Midwife, I would suggest that you start by looking at www.independentmidwives.org.uk where you can enter your postcode to find the midwives who live closest to you.  This website will then lead you to look at the midwives own websites and you should get a “feel” of the midwives from their websites.  The next step is to email or telephone your favourite midwife(s) to have a chat with them, again this should help you to gauge whether they might be the right midwife for you.

The midwife will want to know where you live (to ensure that she is able to travel to you), she will also want to know when your baby is due (to ensure that she is free at that time) and whether it is your first baby.  If you have had a baby/babies before I would expect her to ask about your experience.  She will also be keen to know where you plan to give birth.

Questions you may like to ask of the midwife include:

How long have you been a midwife? / An Independent Midwife?
Do you like homebirths/waterbirths?
Do you have additional skills (hypnosis training etc)?
What would happen if my baby is breech/I am expecting twins?
What is your normal birth rate?
What is your caesarean rate?
What is your breastfeeding rate?
What is your homebirth rate?
What is your transfer rate?
How much do you charge?
What can I expect from you?
Antenatal care? Labour and birth care? Postnatal care?

I would expect an Independent Midwife to outline the issue of the lack of professional indemnity insurance to you.

If you enjoy speaking to the midwife, I would suggest that the next course of action might be to arrange a consultation.  The midwife will usually be happy to come to your home to meet you and your partner to discuss things in more detail.  Many midwives make a small charge for this meeting to cover their time and petrol costs (this meeting make last a couple of hours) and will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions of the midwife and again to enable you to decide whether she is the right midwife for you.  Most midwives will deduct this fee from the final balance if you decide to book with them.

Some women do “interview” a couple of midwives, and this is perfectly acceptable and perhaps a sensible approach as it will be an important relationship.

An Independent Midwife’s fee may seem expensive, particularly when you can get a similar service for free on the NHS, but I always say to clients that you won’t have many babies and it is important to get things right!  It may be better to employ a midwife and wait a bit longer for the new car or foreign holiday!  An Independent Midwife will usually give you a lot more time than an NHS midwife is able to; she will see you more frequently and give you longer appointments.  The other main benefit is that you will see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, birth and postnatal period.

I wish you well in your decision-making whether you choose an NHS or Independent Midwife, and if I can be of any help to you please feel free to email info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

It has been a hard week for Milton Keynes Maternity Unit and for midwifery in general.

Milton Keynes has been severely criticised for staffing shortages which may have led to the death of a baby earlier this year; the Albany Midwifery Practice has been suspended and a midwife hung herself after a baby died.  Tragic.

I trained at Milton Keynes General and I know the staff do a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances – it is obvious that staffing is an issue and this is one of the reasons I left the NHS to work in Independent Practice – I just wanted to be able to give a better standard of care to clients and to give continuity so that women know the midwife who will deliver their baby.  I feel so very sad for the woman and the staff involved.  My only hope is that the service will be better funded as a result, but in the meantime local women will be frightened and this is sad.

Most women will receive safe care in Milton Keynes and from the NHS – the NHS is excellent at delivering acute or emergency care – but what they probably won’t receive is the extra TLC to make the experience special – that is down to the individual midwife and luck depending upon how busy the Unit is.

The excellent Albany Practice in London, which has for many years provided amazing NHS care, has also been closed.  There is a campaign to save it at www.savethealbany.org.uk.

Independent Midwifery is always under threat as the Government insist we must get Professional Indemnity Insurance despite it not being commercially available.  Go to www.kentmidwiferypractice.net to support our campaign.

Midwifery in this country is severely under threat – we must fight to keep midwifery alive!

Sadly a midwife took her own life when a baby she had cared for died.  She mistakenly thought that she was to blame.  How desperately sad that midwives feel so afraid.  We do a difficult job and some babies will die no matter how hard we try to save them.  Midwives, in general, do the job because they care – the vast majority will do their very best for the clients they care for – we need to be supported, not witch hunted and blamed.

I can be contacted at www.3shiresmidwife.co.uk / info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk


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