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Newborn babies – photographed without their parents – my bugbear

Everyone who knows me knows that I promote , research and present about SkinToSkin contact . I know exactly why it matters to mothers , fathers and babies .

Just recently I’ve noticed an advert for an upcoming ITV series “Delivering Babies ” in which Emma Willis stars as a auxiliary nurse assisting on a maternity unit – the profile photo shows a picture of Emma holding someone else’s baby without any of the parents in the photograph – this is what prompted me to write this blog .

One particular bugbear I have is seeing a baby on a photograph with a health care professional without the mother or father being included in the picture .

I have discussed this with many future and new parents and explained that they are the guardians of the newborn – protecting it from unnecessary exposure to anything . At most schools there is a social media policy which prevents the posting of children on social media sites . However the same rules don’t seem to apply for newborn babies.

I see many programmes about pregnancy, labour , birth and the postnatal on TV which I choose to critique. Some I have given up watching through exasperation that the baby is not seem as a child of someone .

I have had heated debates with maternity managers , future midwives , midwives , maternity support workers about why a baby should not be photographed without any of its parents . I ask them this question “if you had a baby would you want it’s photo to be on someone else’s social media account , mobile phone or perhaps even framed on a sideboard in someone else’s home that’s not even related to you ?”

Just google “Midwife” and numerous photos will pop up of midwives holding someone else’s baby . There’s even one from Call The Midwife – time to rethink why these photos exist and consider the human rights of the newborn ?

Below are two collages I made following a google search – who are these babies and were the parents asked for full consent and counselled thoroughly about the fact that their babies would appear on internet searches ?

Please leave your comments below

Yours in midwifery love

@JennyTheM

Being busy as a midwife, Change management, Communication, Compassion, Courage, Discharge planning, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Labour and birth, Learning, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Postnatal care, sepsis, Women's health, Working from the heart

Here is your role as a NHS Midwife …… my suggestions

Here is your role as a Midwife in the NHS

  1. learn about the guidelines and policies at your place of work .
  2. Complete your mandatory training come hell or high water despite not being given allocated time to do so
  3. Get up in the morning / the evening travel to work be on time , report for duty .
  4. Push yourself each day to be a little better than you were the day before
  5. When you are upset about something try and soldier on because everyone else is in the same situation
  6. Support new midwives and future midwives – be a role model as everyone takes note of the way you behave at work (don’t for a minute think that they don’t !)
  7. Practice 1-5 each day now add in caring  for women families ,getting along with your colleagues , getting a break everyday and leaving your shift on time

Stick to …….

Wait a minute Wait a minute.   REWIND REWIND REWIND ……

  1. Get on Twitter and join the community of midwives there sharing evidence based practice
  2. Immerse yourself in the computer system that will give you stats for your own practice (as well as others ) and look at how to improve them.
  3. Practice a daily ritual that is kind to you – respect yourself and your body clock get fresh air and sunlight each day pre or post shift Watch this programme “The body clock- what makes us tick?” on the relevance light (measured in LUX) has on the body clock and circadian rhythm .
  4. When you are happy and /or upset about something try and reflect on it through writing or recordings and seek advice from your occupational Health dept. Team up with another midwife from a different NHS trust and see yourselves as support buddies , reflect together on what helps you at work and learn new positive ways of staying focused and compassionate in your midwifery work
  5. Be professional in all you do through the your words / deeds / behaviour towards others including the way you communicate on your break – integrity is a huge part of being a Midwife . The words you speak in the office / break room and out of work are like a fragrance upon you when you are caring / mentoring and teaching.
  6. Having a break is set into statutory employment law – it ain’t no privilege – so plan your own break and get away from your work environment eat your food in a quiet place, do three minutes of mindfulness – your break time belongs to YOU – if you can’t take the full amount at once try breaking into bite sized amounts so you can eat / / rest / reflect but perhaps on three short breaks instead of one long one -also support your colleagues to do the same
  7. If you are a manager/head of midwifery consider how you get your lunch and try to be a role model – go and eat with the staff you manage – you might find out more through this than leading meetings
  8. If you hear a group talking about another colleague in a derogatory manner then challenge them why are they discussing someone who isn’t there to defend themself, then ask them to stop – if you choose to ignore this kind of behaviour you are condoning it
  • Always remember you are not at work to socialise but to put the women and families at the heart of what you do . If you find yourself questioning a colleagues work style – ask yourself this “is that colleague putting the woman first ? “
  • You’ll probably find the answer for the style of work is because the answer is YES!! So if you have a colleague who may seems to take a little longer with women or isn’t seen in the office much try and shadow them – sometimes taking some extra time can be more cost effective – a long chat pre discharge can arm women with knowledge about how to recognise SEPSIS , help her to recognise when her baby is feeding well or not and also to pickup POSTNATAL DEPRESSION earlier .
  • These are just my thoughts and it’s my first blog for ages so I hope you enjoy it
  • Be kind ❤️
  • Yours in midwifery love
  • Jenny ❤️©️2018
  • Being a mum, Communication, Compassion, New parents, NHS, parents, sepsis

    A little story of Sepsis

    A guest blog by my fabulous friend, Val Finigan 

    ‘I had an idea-to write a little blog every few months that would help the midwives and nurses at gtdhealthcare with their continued professional development needs, in preparation for revalidation.

    So here goes, my first blog on sepsis.  I hope that you all enjoy it –please do comment if it is of use.

    The idea of blogging is to share ideas and to embed ‘things’ into the blog that make shared learning easy. Story telling has become an important part of learning in healthcare.  Here I will share my two personal stories of sepsis and links to evidence based learning tools and red flag symptoms of sepsis.

    Sepsis is more common than a heart attack ! Isn’t that shocking?

    The 2015, NCEPOD report, ‘Just Say Sepsis’,  Identified an overall mortality rate of 28.9% per annum, at least 120 people die every day from sepsis in the UK alone.The sepsis manual 2017 (embedded) says “it seems highly likely that, across the UK, sepsis claims at least 46,000 lives every year, and it may actually be as high as 67,000”. Who would have thought that the figures would be this high?

    Sepsis that occurs during pregnancy is termed, ‘maternal sepsis’. If it develops within six weeks of delivery it is termed postpartum or ‘puerperal’ sepsis. Sepsis is one of the leading causes of direct maternal death in the UK. See maternal sepsis tools in the Sepsis manual 2017 (below).

    The HEE have developed a wonderful e-learning programme on sepsis which can be accessed via the web link below.

    https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/sepsis/

    They have also produced a short film that is really helpful

     

     

    Sepsis is a condition which every health professional might encounter, and which can touch anyone at any time. In general, patients developing sepsis aren’t ‘labelled’ as being at high risk for that condition (in comparison with, for example, a majority of patients presenting with acute severe asthma or diabetic ketoacidosis). There is no one ‘hallmark’ symptom or sign, unlike the crushing chest pain which the public know might indicate a heart attack.

    Because of this, patients tend to present to healthcare late, as evidenced by a 2015 report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) which found that, where patients were felt to have presented late to hospital, in nearly 60% of cases it was because they did not ask for help and the delays were typically measured in days rather than hours.

    The National Institute for health and healthcare excellence (2017) have also published guidance on the prevention and management of sepsis- to take a peek CLICK HERE 

    I have had two personal experiences of sepsis, in the days when little was known about the condition. 

    My first child had sepsis and septic arthritis at the young age of 7 (29 years ago).  She had suffered with recurrent Tonsillitis for two years and had been treated with numerous courses of antibiotics. She developed severe pain in her hip and over the next five days became increasingly ill.  An initial xray revealed nothing and because there were not hot spots seen, her symptoms appeared to become irrelevant; the hospital staff would not listen to me nor would my GP. Although I took my daughter on many visits to the GP and Accident and Emergency Department nothing was done. In fact I was labelled as an over-anxious mother and directed to the paediatric pain services to learn to control my daughter’s ‘discomfort’. 

    On the 5thday of her illness she was hallucinating, confused,her temperature was 35C and she was mottled and cold to touch, her lips were blue. I took her straight back to Accident and Emergency.  Two hours later she was in theatre and then spent 6 weeks in hospital on traction and two weeks on intravenous antibiotics, her reminder a scar from thigh to knee. 

    The final diagnosis came, Sepsis and severe Septic arthritis of the hip.

    We counted our blessings daily; if I hadn’t been the awkward mother the outcome could have been worse. The hospital offered their sincere apologies and lessons were to be learnt.

    One lesson I took from this-was always take note of what the parents are saying after all they know their child better than you do.

    My second child had sepsis years later.  Age 11 years; his tooth was broken when he was hit accidentally with a cricket bat. The tooth was crowned and the temporary crown kept falling off.  Sepsis was quick to bite (pardon the pun).

    This time there was a more rapid onset of symptoms. My son came in from playing out and said he felt unwell; he was shivering excessivelyand looked pale and mottled. His temperature was high, yet he sat firmly besides the warm hot radiator because he felt cold.  I took him straight to Accident and Emergency and the staff in this department were trained to spot signs of sepsis.

    Immediately bloods were taken, he was admitted and intravenous antibiotics were were administered within an hour of our arrival at Accident and Emergency. Two weeks later we were back home with a well child.

    So what can be learnt from these two examples of sepsis? The symptoms can be variable –take a look at spotting sepsis below. The onset can also be variable. There are red flag symptoms, early assessment, diagnosis and management are vital.

    Spotting sepsis FINAL.pdf

    Sepsis_Manual_2017_final_v7.pdf

    I hope that the tools in this blog are helpful and that it has been useful. Please do comment

    Thank you for taking the time to read it

    Val Finigan July 2018

    RM. IBCLC. RGN. PhD. MsC. BA (Hons). FHEA. QTLS. Honorary research fellow, senior clinical nurse gtdhealthcare

    NHS

    What is culture? @JennyTheM’s midwifery musings

    Culture is the way something has always been done . Culture raises its head in many places including religion,politics, midwifery ,medicine , nursing education, the way we speak the way we work , the newspapers and tv we watch – we are easily influenced.

    Take for example The House of Commons where the culture is for members of Parliament to shout out to each other, to heckle to humiliate and sometimes to belittle. It’s a very male dominated place and I wonder if it would be the same full of women – will we ever know?

    FGM was a cultural norm but now it’s being challenged and stopped – see what I mean ?

    CLICK HERE for guidelines around recognising & reporting FGM and female cutting)

    Culture in a workplace it’s about doing things the way that “things” have always been done . Sadly for some it’s about behaving the way they’ve always behaved.

    This is based on messages (DMs) I receive from many midwives and Student midwives across not just the UK but the world 🌍

    For example

    • not tackling bullying head on
    • being in a group when someone is talking about someone who is not present and you know it’s wrong but you don’t speak out because no one else is speaking out
    • Joining in with that group to comply
    • It’s about people clucking together like hens that everything is bloody marvellous when it truly is not

    I could go on .. for me though being an anti culture agent (yes that’s me !!) is about

    • Speaking out
    • Not being part of a clique
    • Seeing the people you work with as professional colleagues not “mates to muck about with “
    • Working everyday with evidence based research to GUIDE you
    • Seeing the woman (I am a midwife so I don’t say patient ) as the focus of all actions deeds and words
    • Questioning the norm
    • Challenging crude comments
    • Reporting behaviour that is not professional and doesn’t adhere to the NMC CODE
    • Constantly thinking about why you are doing what you do and not just simply doing it (fish don’t see water)
    • Being the change you wish to see in maternity services (or politics or whatever your work is in)
    • Not bragging
    • Getting on with stuff
    • Networking to help others
    • Leadership

    The list is endless but this blog is merely to help you catapult yourself out of your own compliance.

    How would you describe culture ? There is effective culture & ineffective culture .

    I will always be an anti “poor culture in the workplace” agent

    That’s what integrity is to me

    Thanks also to the change agent that is Heather Gallagher for reminding me about my “be the change ” slide – you inspire many people each day Heather including me ❤️

    Onwards 💪🏻❤️

    Babies, Bereavement, Birth, Compassion, Dying, Grieving, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Kindness, Labour , birth, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, NHS, Obstetrics, Patient care, Post traumatic stress disorder, Student Midwives, Women's health, Women's rights, Working from the heart

    A Midwife’s heart and caring for families through stillbirth ❤️

    This is a very difficult blog to write . Yesterday someone highlighted a tweet to me about midwives and how they deal with the impact of caring for a family who may have to face the loss of a baby . It was to do with midwives knitting hats for stillborn babies .

    I have been a Midwife to many women whilst they birth their baby who has died before labour starts . It broke my heart each time I cared for these families. However I saw the fact that I was allocated to care for them as nothing but a true privilege and joy . I wanted to make the moments they had with their precious child special , full of love and memories . I helped them take the best photos . assisted them through washing their babies and also knew that I had to give them time to grieve and to communicate to them through deeds not words that I was “with them” totally . I cried with them , held them whilst they sobbed , even laughed with them – which may sound strange but it’s true . I cooked for them , made endless pots of tea and I washed their feet . I saw in these women & men a strength that can’t be put into words on a blog . I recall walking a couple through a labour ward to a bathroom with their stillborn son , so they could all be together in the bathroom whilst the mother took a bath – they insisted I sat with them ,so I did – on the bathroom floor – I know these memories are as special to them as they are to me.

    Midwives do not routinely get counselling post events like this – fire workers and police staff do so is the NHS missing a clue ?

    In 2006 I reflected on an incident at work where a woman came in to be induced and when I put her on the CTG monitor, we discovered that her darling son was not for this world . I was devastated and had to arrange childcare so that I could stay with the woman & her husband post my 21.00 shift finish . Another thing. that also hit me hard was that the friend I asked to help me with my young family had no qualms about saying yes – I later found out that the reason was that she had given birth to a stillborn son many years before (she told me that she felt by helping me she was helping the parents of the stillborn baby ).

    As I left the couple to go home much later , I wept from sadness for them and their empty arms as well as emotional exhaustion and was told not to cry by a senior member of staff. I couldn’t go into work the next day .

    What transpired was an article about my reflection by Rosemary Mander . The mother became a friend of mine & I helped her with a SANDS event – I went to her sons funeral and this connection helped me to cope as much as it did her to have someone who saw her son like she did – as a beautiful boy .

    It’s so important that we see our role as supporting parents through sadness & also happiness . The midwives who choose to knit hats are simply trying their best – they might not know what else to do – it’s s coping mechanism. You can’t train for events like these just like parents can’t prepare for this to happen to them .

    I’d like to thank Rosemary Mander for writing around my reflection in 2006 , the mum & dad of the darling son that was born asleep for giving consent to publish my reflection all those years ago (you gave me the courage to show my emotions to other parents) and also to my friend for her kindness in caring for my family whilst I stayed with the family ❤️

    Also thanks to @kwelsh1 for showing me this powerful sculpture by Albert Gyorgi called “Melancholy ”

    it sums up how any parent who loses a child must feel

    Antenatal education, Being a mum, Birth, Caesarean section, Compassion, Courage, Fear of Birth, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Human rights, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, NHS, Obstetrics, Respect, Skin to skin contact, Student Midwives, Surgery, Women's health, Women's rights, Working from the heart

    Fear of Birth – A Poem

    I didn’t want a labour -everyone in my family knew

    I did want a baby though

    -my desperate feeling was not new.

    I’d always been nervous,fainted at the sight of blood

    told myself time and again that at birthing I’d be no good

    My husband eventually won me round

    We started trying for a baby but my mind couldn’t rest

    So many ifs and buts and a maybe

    we were pleased when we found out the positive test,

    Inside my body though I felt so stressed

    I had a tightness in my chest

    I almost wanted to shout & shriek (no one seemed to listen)

    I tried to talk about Caesarean birth with health professionals through the weeks

    -somehow they didn’t hear me -I felt soft , so ridiculous so weak.

    I couldn’t express my feelings, my fear of giving birth

    I felt anxiety would pass to my baby -I had no sense of worth .

    I went into labour I was scared and full of fear

    my husband and my mother were with me it helped me to have them near

    I failed to express myself to the doctors that I just couldn’t do it

    But it was as if my words couldn’t come out- I truly almost blew it .

    What happened next was down to the perception of my midwife

    She saw the turmoil I was in recognised my inner strife

    She stood side by side with me , told the Drs what I’d said

    She was my birthing advocate – my saviour through the dread

    A plan was made they’d finally noted every word I’d spoken

    I was going to have a Caesarean section it was as if I had awoken

    Don’t presume my fear had simply run away

    I was worried ,scared and still not quite sure what to say

    During the birth I could not look or speak or move

    But when I held my baby skin to skin I was overwhelmed with love

    My child was born and passed to me – I had achieved so much

    And to the midwife that heard me through the tears – THANK YOU – for your listening touch

    You really made a difference to me and my family

    I don’t know how I’d have coped if you hadn’t stood side by side with me

    @JennyTheM 16.5.18

    Dedicated to Yana Richens OBE @Fearofbirth on Twitter for raising the profile of women who have fear of birth and for teaching Midwives and future Midwives strategies to help women ❤️ thank you ❤️

    12.5 hour shifts, Being a mum, Birth, Breastfeeding, Hospital, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Night shifts in the NHS, Obstetrics, Student Midwives, Women's health, Women's rights

    Jenny’s mutterings , midwives childcare and 12.5 hour shifts ….

    This blog is for #70MidwifeBloggers and I was inspired to write it by my two grown up children . When I look at them and the way they treat other people I always think “you did good Jen”

    I have worked in the NHS for almost 40 years , so I was IN IT for ten years before I became a parent .

    When my daughter was 6 months old I returned to work as a Ward Sister on a medical ward in Oldham Hospital (now Penine Acute Trust) . Part of the reason for my return to work was to prove to myself that I could be a good mummy and a good nurse. I have always liked a challenge and do I regret my decision ? Yes and No is the answer .

    When I first thought about child care for my daughter there was no “on site” hospital nursery. Both my parents had died when I was younger. To go back to work meant I was driving 25 miles each way to start at 7.30am – was I mad ?

    I was blessed – I found Gaynor a former nurse who totally understood my predicament. I managed to get my daughter ready put her in the car drop her off at Gaynor’s house and pick her up after work . I chose Gaynor as she was close to the hospital and I instantly connected with her . When I was on a late shift which ended at 21.00 I’d get to Gaynor’s to find my daughter ready for bed and a breastfeed and then I’d feed her at Gaynor’s house , pop her into the car (yes I had a car seat ) and drive home . Lots of times I arrived to find washing done for me / a meal to eat / a cup of tea / a hug and a huge welcome . Gaynor was also a mum and her children loved my daughter as much as she loved them . One particular thing about Gaynor was that her mum and dad owned a nursing home ( we are talking traditional family run home full of love , activities and good food – this was 1989)

    Gaynor regularly took my daughter to the nursing home with her and she made the residents day – I also went to the home and felt like I’d grown a new family – his lucky we were .

    My son was born 5 years later and I was also lucky with his childcare – he went to Maureen who I met when I had to find childcare in a new area to start my midwifery in 1991 and she became Auntie Maureen to both my children .

    My blog is really to raise awareness of working mothers and fathers in the NHS and my question is this —

    “Do 12 hour shifts have a negative impact on families NHS workers family love and home dynamics of NHS workers ? In fact if someone works a 12 hour shift they probably get up at 6am and get home around 10pm or later – that’s 16 hours of being up and active / put another day into that = 32 hours then three long days together = 48 hours – do you see where I’m coming from ?

    If a child does not see its own parent for three whole days does it have attachment implications ? Has anyone done any research on this ?

    IMO the 12 hour shift is seen as a money saving initiative for the NHS – 6 shifts covered in three days – bargain !!

    However a bargain ain’t a bargain unles you can prove it saves money.

    I hear both many sides to the arguments about 12 hour shifts but I also hear of staff who work 12 hour shifts “pacing” themselves , resting more on shift and I wondered if those working 8 hour shifts ever thought of “pacing” themselves at work ?

    More research and evidence is coming out about long shifts , that they can be a contributing factor in thyroid disease, cancer , heart disease , burn out and long term sick . Perhaps it’s time to analyse data on nursing and midwifery sick leave to see if the NHS sick leave has improved or worsened since 12 hour shifts became a “thing” .

    I have juggled child care most of my children’s lives and thank fully it’s been ok – even the time I caught one so called childminder pushing my daughter across a busy road by placing my three year old daughter across a pram!! I was actually a driver on that road (working as a community Midwifery student ) , so I went straight to her house and removed my daughter then & there . I rang my community manager in tears and she gave me two days of compassionate leave to help me arrange new childcare, this is how I stumbled onto Maureen – she embraced both my children into her family and like me she loved art and baking , so my children saw her home as an extension of mine .

    Anyway I’d just like the NHS to seriously consider why going back to short shifts might be the answer – it also costs more to pay a 12.5 hour Midwife as if she works both Saturday and Sunday her after tax salary can be from £600 upwards more than someone working short shifts – so think again NHS

    The 4 days that the long shift staff do not cover need to be covered – whereas when we all worked 8 hour shifts some staff would volunteer to stay late – this is impossible and dangerous on a long day .

    thank you for reading

    Yours in love and light ,

    Jenny ❤️

    Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Nursing

    Happy 70th Birthday NHS: and to all who work in it – go eat cake 🎂 . A blog by Val Finigan

    birthday-cake-cake-birthday-cupcakes-40183.jpeg

    Happy 70th Birthday NHS:and to all who work in it-go eat cake 🎂
    A beautiful blog by @ValFinigan

    I can’t believe that the NHS has reached a 70 year milestone and that I have been part of this amazing service for 40 years. I saw the twitter feed asking for midwives to write a Blog to celebrate the NHS and its achievements over the years and I decided that I would like to be a part of this. Of course, I am not a Blog person and so I sought expert help from the lovely @JennyTheM who always like me, says yes (so hugs Jenny and remember “together, we always achieve”). I have been proud to work in the NHS, to wear my Consultant Midwife’s lanyard with pride. Indeed, I am immensely proud of the NHS Constitution and values and of NHS staff commitment to deliver a quality service regardless of demands made on them.
    My career in the NHS started in 1978 when I became an Auxiliary Nurse caring for the elderly and my full time service almost ended in 2017 when I retired from position of Consultant Midwife for infant feeding. It has been an amazing journey and a privilege to be part of so many people’s lives, helping women to bring babies into the world and at the other end of life –supporting with compassion and care, those who are leaving.
    I have worked in many different roles and positions which I feel empowered me, enabling me to understand everyone’s role and the part they play in the NHS as a whole. Sadly, I am not sure that all senior people have this same journey or focus and not everyone is aware of individual roles and how collectively they underpin NHS effectiveness and efficiency. T

    This is important as the large wheel will not turn without all of the little cogs functioning. and that is why all NHS staff must be supported, be valued and be cared for must

    This is important as the large wheel will not turn without all of the little cogs functioning and that is why all NHS staff must be supported, be valued and be cared for as in the NMC code ( CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE NMC CODE    )

     

    To achieve this, you must:
    8.1 respect the skills, expertise and contributions of your colleagues, referring matters to them when appropriate
    8.2 maintain effective communication with colleagues
    8.4 work with colleagues to evaluate the quality of your work and that of the team
    8.5 work with colleagues to preserve the safety of those receiving care
    8.6 share information to identify and reduce risk, and
    8.7 be supportive of colleagues who are encountering health or performance problems. However, this support must never compromise or be at the expense of patient or public safety.
    I look back with emotional pride; I remember the first time that I lovingly ironed my uniform and then proudly placed the nurse’s cap on my head. I was in Utopia and I had achieved my dream. My parents had saved to buy me a fob watch engraved with my name and a silver buckle and belt and I still have them today.
    I was fortunate enough to be given many opportunities to develop. I became an Enrolled nurse in 1978 and worked in paediatrics and infectious diseases. When Project 2000 came in, I re-trained to become a RGN and worked as a staff nurse on cleft lip and palate and also within general nursing roles.
    I didn’t understand the political aspects that have driven my career pathways until much later when I entered the world of academia at University of Salford and considered this. Like most nurses and midwives’ my time in the NHS has involved life-long learning and development. Here I went from the Langley dunce to a BA (Hons) and then to a PhD achiever. Now who would have believed that I could have achieved that?
    I qualified as a midwife almost 30 years ago and then specialised, becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, taking 4 hospitals to UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation and sharing research globally on women’s experiences of immediate skin-to-skin contact from diverse population groups. We celebrated our teams’ achievements in style, with Elle McPherson presenting the award and talking to mothers and cuddling babies.
    The emotional context of midwifery is fundamental, midwives need to have emotional awareness in order to deliver care sensitively, and also be able to acknowledge and respond to women’s feelings. Elle McPherson could have been a midwife; I was impressed at her sensitivity and respectful stance on women’s rights to best care. It was impressive to see her give her bouquet of flowers, a hug and a tear shed when a local Asian mother (who had delivered her baby prematurely) was separated from it whilst it received neonatal care.
    I helped to care for the first HIV positive patient admitted to Monsall Hospital, Manchester in the 80s(which has now been demolished) and I trained to care for patients that had Lassa fever which was quite a scary thing to do back then and involved caring for the patient in a sealed unit-a bubble.
    In my later days (once I had grown a brain) I helped the Manchester HIV team develop the first guidelines to support breastfeeding for HIV positive women and I held the first motion for this at the CHIVA conference in Manchester (which was very frightening as many renowned HIV experts were present). Sometimes we have to be brave (‘Courage butter’, JennyTheM, would say) without courage change will never happen-someone has to be brave enough to take the first step and ask “can we”, “should we”, “what is the evidence for and against”, “how do we start this journey together”, “will this make a difference?” Better Births and the Midwifery Transformation agenda are the new movement where midwives and the government are considering change-change that will fundamentally , hopefully, put women at the centre of ‘personalised care’.
    I have seen so many changes come and go in the NHS 70 years ;often to be replaced with similar changes –just with a different name (‘Changing Childbirth’ to ‘Better Births’, being the latest example). Yet I also have proudly witnessed the compassion, care and tireless commitment to the NHS given by midwives and nurses who continue to deliver the best care whilst being under immense pressures and challenges. There is a lack of funding and still we are 3500 midwives short across the UK.
    Sadly I have also seen many experienced and talented nurses and midwives leave a service they truly love because they can no longer function well under the pressures of systems.
    When I first retired from the NHS, I was adrift. I was shocked at the overwhelming loss I felt and sadly there was nowhere to turn for support. I was angry at myself, all that training, learning and now both it, and I had no value. The problem with being a midwife is that once you take on the role it becomes you, not a part of you.
    Thankfully, my story does not end there. Now I am looking back through a different lens and with a rush of positivity embracing my soul. I am back, resilient like our NHS, doing what I was trained to do, and what I do best; serving the public, caring and providing support. The NHS is a UK flagship-I have no doubt it will continue, the scary bit-is what changes have to happen next to allow this.
    I now work in the Urgent Care services where I continue to use my nursing and midwifery knowledge and skills wisely. I am working with and alongside of women, babies and families, providing evidence based care and advice in pregnancy, motherhood and for infant feeding and also for a wide variety of other illnesses; and for people of all ages. The hours are flexible and therefore offer a work –home live balance that evaded me in my full time role. In this service I am valued and my talents are fully utilised.
    Happy birthday NHS and congratulations to the hard working workforce (cleaner to Chief Executive) that make those tiny cogs turn to deliver such a fantastic service.

    I hope you enjoyed reading my blog . with love ,

    Val

    Babies, Being a mum, Birth, Caesarean section, Communication, Compassion, Courage, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Intra-operative care, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, Learning, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Student Midwives, Women's health, Women's rights, Working from the heart

    Making a sacred space for birth

    This blog is inspired by the women I have cared for as a Midwife and also the wonderful Spirituality and Childbirth book book by & Dr Susan Crowther and Dr Jenny Hall . The women I have met and cared for in my midwifery career have helped me to invent new ways of working for and with them.This experience has shown me that in order to achieve a special birth experience we must be connected with the woman . The value of approaching each woman with a different perspective but the same professional compassionate values regardless of their mode of birth is the core of individualised care .

    It’s taken me all my midwifery career to reach this point and I am still evolving.

    Making a sacred space for women and birth is something that we should all consider as midwives. How many times do we enter a room of birth to find the light shining brightly the window blinds up, the CTG machine on full volume and the sounds of the hospital permeating into the room ? Who has the right to enter the birth room ? Perhaps now is the time to talk about consent and to ask women whether they want people to come in and out of their room for non-essential reasons such as trying to find equipment or the medicine cupboard keys . Do your labour wards and your birth centre rooms have a curtain after the door to maintain the dignity and privacy of the woman and her partner and to keep the sacred space? Are the room, it’s people and contents treated as “our” (Midwives and obstetricians ) space or as the woman’s (family , partner , newborn) space. Do we GIVE the space to the woman she enters the room? Saying “this is your room , this is your space I am your guest” or is it seen that we take control of the area ? What exactly is the solution? . I think one of the answers is to start by questioning ourselves as to how we are behaving. There are guidelines to help us give evidence based care and evidence shows that dark quiet rooms , aromatherapy , touch and the continuous presence of a midwife are all beneficial for women in labour as they give birth . How do we transfer this to a birth in the operating theatre or an area where women with a higher chance of intervention are cared for ?

    Do we need a new guideline that encompasses making a sacred space ? I think so .

    We must celebrate that midwifery care is still an essential core aspect of birth in the U.K. and share our stories . To summarise the work of Dr Trish Greenhalgh – each person we care for shows us new evidence and this can be individual evidence – it doesn’t need to be large scale. Therefore if your compassionate care works then that’s your evidence .

    My tips for making a sacred space are

    • Explain to the woman why a newborn appreciates a peaceful place to arrive in
    • Ask about aromatherapy try to stick with no more than three essential oils as using more can dilute the effect
    • Look at the lighting in birth rooms – can the lights be dimmed – find a lamp to give you some light for record keeping
    • Take all that’s required into the room and make yourself an area that does not intrude into the woman’s space but that also increases your time in the room
    • If the Drs come into the room and require extra lighting turn it down after that requirement ends and try to use local lighting instead of general lighting
    • Use a drape in theatre to create a skin to skin tent where the new family can bond and take photos and don’t leave them to do your notes – do that later . Keep a check on the mums and baby’s condition regularly.
    • Use massage to help increase the woman’s own oxytocin levels and darkness will also enhance the melatonin / oxytocin effect .
    • Stay calm and talk quietly – try not to disrupt the woman’s hormones which are affected by noise .
    • A sacred space means comfort , calm , love and kindness must be tangible within that area – it’s not about the space as much as the atmosphere- the way you help a woman to achieve this will have a long lasting positive effect not only on her self value but also impact you in your own practice in a wonderful way .

    Please think carefully wether you are a hormone disruptor or a hormone enabler .

    Be a true Midwife .

    This blog is not to tell you how to be but to provoke thought on our practice and try to help you and others to see how we can effect a positive change for women in their birth settings

    Thank you for reading

    Yours in midwifery love 💕

    Jenny ❤️

    Against the odds, Babies, Being a mum, Being busy as a midwife, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Change management, Communication, Compassion, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Postnatal care, Respect, Skin to skin contact, Student Midwives, Women's health, Women's rights, Working from the heart, Young mothers, Young women

    Postnatal transfer to the ward from labour ward – my thoughts

    A DM (Direct Message) on Twitter is a message you receive from someone that no one else can see – apart from the people included in the message.

    In the past four weeks I have received 7 DMs from a mixture of midwives , future midwives and women all with the same subject matter . This subject is mainly about ‘who decides when a woman is transferred from the room she gave birth in to the postnatal ward’ This seems to be a hot topic at the moment as the variation in time from birth to transfer is huge – especially when comparing Caesarean birth transfers to other birth transfers (and it might surprise you to know that the variation in birth to transfer time to the ward for women who have Caesarean birth is also vast – some units care for these women on the labour ward until their spinal has worn off , some units transfer to ward within a short time in recovery which leads me to question that support with breastfeeding must be patchy).

    Just the other week at Salford University Midwifery Society Conference ‘Transforming Birth’ click HERE for a summary of the day – I asked a question to the audience “are you, as future midwives pressured to move women to the postnatal ward (after they have birthed their babies) faster than the women themselves would like or you as a future autonomous practitioner would like ?” The result was that over 80% said YES.

    Do we as Midwives consider our own autonomy enough when we are working ? In order to give the woman a sense of feeling cared for and nurtured individualised, compassionate, holistic midwifery is paramount . Each woman is different- some may prefer a rapid transfer , others may not . Some women may need extra support to establish breastfeeding or be debriefed post birth or some women may want to rest in a quiet place with minimal noise before they are moved to the ward . If a birth takes place in a birth centre which doesn’t focus on time , women will stay in the same room post birth until their discharge home.

    In the NHS patient care sadly revolves around the concept of time . If a patient is not seen , admitted or discharged within a four hour time frame (see photo below ) it is considered a “breach”

    Certain procedures have a standard time frame in which so many can be done – this is how operating theatre lists are generated and how the NHS deals with waiting lists .

    However birth is and must be a positive experience – even though it has coding costs and some births are planned to the day -we must give women more than they expect – stand up for them , be their advocates. Challenging the system is one of the ways we can make change happen – if we all accept each day “this is the way we do this” we cannot be developing our roles or our practice to improve woman centred care . I’m not saying it’s easy but I want you to imagine what care you would want for your sisters and your daughters ? Then give the women THIS care – I am in the NHS as I nursed my own mother until her death at home – I see the connection between care at birth and care at death . I have been a nurse to the dying and that experience has impacted on the care I give to women in a most human way .

    Whatever care you give , whether you transfer a woman in your fastest time or not is all rather irrelevant when you focus on the bigger picture – YOU are responsible for the care you provide , or you don’t provide -if you tell a student to do something that is YOUR responsibility and I suggest referring to this NMC publication which I look at each day The NMC CODE . If advice or suggestions are not kind , caring and have a direct clash with your duty of care , if a more senior Midwife tells you to do something this should be documented in the notes and be evidence based, kind and resonate with your trust guidelines plus the NMC code.

    Sometimes we are stretched short staffed , rushed and under pressure but at no point should this be the woman’s problem.

    So the next time you are preparing a woman for transfer to a ward just think

    • Have I given her & her partner enough time alone with their newborn
    • Have I helped initiate feeding
    • Am I rushing her ?
    • Do I feel under pressure ?

    Then if necessary give her some more time – and when you arrive on the ward give continuity of care to the woman and her newborn by transferring in SkinToSkin contact , admitting them both to the ward environment yourself , taking and recording observations , checking the woman’s pad and fundus ,getting the woman a drink and this will also help your colleagues on the ward immensely.

    ❤️Be a holistic professional caring Midwife ❤️

    Thank you to the student of Salford University and those who DM’d me on Twitter – you inspired this blog

    Thank you for reading

    Yours in midwifery love

    JennyTheM

    ❤️