Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

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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

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

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 53 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 172 posts. There were 2 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb.

The busiest day of the year was April 7th with 144 views. The most popular post that day was Birth before the arrival of a midwife.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were 3shiresmidwife.co.uk, facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, twitter.com, and studentmidwife.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for midwife blog, valerie gommon, skinny women and pregnancy, albany midwives suspended, and placentophagy research.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Birth before the arrival of a midwife May 2009

2

“Super skinny pregnancies” March 2009
6 comments

3

Independent Midwifery and snow Part II January 2010
4 comments

4

Eating the placenta (placentophagy)? October 2009
3 comments

5

Freebirthing / Unassisted birth May 2009
5 comments

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

In recent years most breech babies have been born by caesarean section in the UK.  Doctors usually suggest that a caesarean is the preferred option, however some midwives and doctors do not necessarily agree and certainly some mothers prefer to attempt a vaginal birth.

There is an excellent resource written by Jane Evans called “Breech Birth – What are my options?” available from www.aims.org.uk which talks about all the options.

If you should find your baby in the breech position there are several things you can try in an attempt to turn the baby cephalic (or head down).

First of all you could ask your doctor about External Cephalic Version (ECV) when a doctor attempts to manually turn the baby (from the outside).  This is done under very carefully controlled conditions; usually on labour ward just in case the baby becomes distressed and a caesarean is needed.  ECV can be quite uncomfortable and even painful but does have a reasonable success rate.

I always think it is worth considering alternatives, be that acupuncture, homoeopathy or chiropractic.  After all you have nothing to lose and they may well be successful.

Another suggestion is to lie at an angle, either on pillows or ironing board, with your head down and feet up and help the baby to turn over this way.  The theory is that this angle helps the baby tuck their head, thus making it easier for them to flip over, like doing a somersault.  It is recommended doing this fifteen to twenty minutes two to three times a day as early as 32 weeks and until the baby turns head down.   At the same time try to relax and visualise the baby moving into a head down position – even try to communicate with the baby and “tell” him/her to go head down if they can.

Another version of this would be to try few somersaults in the swimming pool (if you can manage it!).

Massage, either used alone or in combination with other ideas mentioned here, such as the “breech tilt” may be helpful.  Simply rub both hands wide and flat around the belly in the direction you want the baby to turn.  Both hands should stay opposite each other and move circularly, around the baby.

A slightly more drastic option is to place an ice pack (do not place directly on your skin) or even a frozen bag of peas against the top of your uterus may cause your baby to attempt to turn it’s head away from the cold temperature, or some people talk about shining a torch on their abdomen to direct the baby to the bottom of the uterus – weird and wacky, but worth a try … you’ve not got anything to lose!

If you want to speak to a midwife about any of these ideas you can always contact me info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

As an Independent Midwife I have clients within quite a wide geographic area, and it isn’t unusual to have a client who lives up to an hour from my home.  If the client has had several children and previous quick labours I occasionally sleep over at their house when they may be in early labour to ensure that I can get to them in time.  However, although my last client usually had long labours and I was thinking that I’d have plenty of time to get there, but when I saw the snow expected I decided that I should go and camp out with her just in case I couldn’t get to her.  I drove over (in blizzard conditions) and felt very relieved that I had as I wouldn’t have relished the journey in the middle of the night.  In the event, her baby didn’t arrive that night, but she laboured the following afternoon and her baby was born in her sitting room at around 9pm.  It was a fabulous birth, in the pool surrounded by her husband, mother and two children who watched in awe.  We all tucked up in bed afterwards, very content and secure.

The following morning after breakfast I was able to perform a postnatal examination on both mother and baby and had the opportunity to discuss the nights events with my client and her children before setting off to go home.

Fortunately my next clients are much more local to home, but I confess to waking several times in the night recently to look out and check how much snow has fallen – after all a midwife can’t stop working just because there is a little (or a lot) of snow!

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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