Antenatal education, Anxiety, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Compassion, Courage, Fear of Birth, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Human rights, 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, Patient care, Post traumatic stress disorder, Postnatal care, Psychology, PTSD, Respect, Skin to skin contact, Women's health, Women's rights, Working from the heart, Young mothers, Young women

Fear of birth 

How can midwives help women who have a fear of birth ? 

If you meet pre labour I cannot over emphasise the benefits of using a doula service – doulas connect with women and support them through pregnancy , labour, birth and the postnatal period – I value all doulas and I have learnt so much from them . 

Sit beside the woman at her level , listen carefully with your eyes and your  ears . Demonstrate that you accept her fear as real and tangible and do not dismiss  it by saying “you’ll be fine, lots of women give birth”. When as a midwife you first meet a woman, it’s crucial for you to have open body language which means arms by your side , warmth in your eyes, and you should display love and truth . Ask the woman if she wants you to hold her hand , this is a connective proces and a simple yet effective of cementing your relationship with her . 

Help the woman to gain a rapport with you and confidence in herself by demystifying some of her previous experiences  eg the gas and air didn’t help last time , I tore badly last time , I failed at breastfeeding last time. this time it just might . Be a source of knowledge and light for her .  Explain that you are with her that you love your job and you will be her advocate throughout .  

Explain the process of pain in the cervix and why relaxation can help , use mindfulness links for her to listen to and actively take part in them with the woman and her partner to show your commitment to them both . Teach her that an internal examination is about choice, consent and that she is the one in control with an ability to stop the process at any time . Also explain her human rights matte in labour. . The woman may decide against internal examinations – be with her in this decision. 

Hold the woman’s hand when she is talking to you , this will let her see that you are kind and that you  want to help her . Say things like ” I can see vulnerability in your eyes , tell me how I can help you , I am with you” “how are you feeling at this present moment? ” 

Ask what her fears are – one woman I met recently was so scared , she thought that she might die in labour – this may seem irrational but it’s acutely important to know that these expressions of fear are very real to the woman herself . 

Don’t talk about feeding intention , sometimes a woman’s confidence and belief in herself are knocked for six when there have been difficulties with breastfeeding and this can manifest as fear in labour . Discuss instead why her newborn craves for skin to skin with her at birth and that these physiologically magical hours are also to help her feel validated once she has given birth . 

Help the woman to focus on the moment not what might happen this is mindfulness in labour.

If a woman has had a straightforward birth before , her perception of it is what matters not what the notes say or the fact that it appears to have gone smoothly. 

Try your best to stay in the room most of the time , even use the ensuite in the room yourself once you have asked her permission to do so . Your aim is to to reduce her anxiety and fear of being left by the midwife .

Handover information to the team on shift about the woman and her fear of birth so that staff enter the room peacefully and introduce themselves . If someone enters the room and doesn’t introduce themselves, do it for them. 

Ensure that the partners voice is heard and that they see you are trying to help by using open questions . Learn what they do , how they met and see their love for one another . 

Don’t push the woman to have stronger analgesia , the key is give information. It’s crucial to give full explanation of all analgesia and their effects not only on the woman but on the baby and its ability to feed after birth . The pain is the woman’s pain and she must feel heard regarding her analgesic choices. 
Never underestimate the value of finding  a midwife that knows the woman and also suggest aromatherapy. Frankincense is wonderful scent that reduces anxiety and if used in combination with other scents has a calming pain relieving quality . 

Keep the room darker and ask staff to be respectful by not  entering the sacred birth room – interruptions increase adrenalin response which blocks the production of oxytocin and if her partner can get on the bed too this helps the woman to feel safe and loved . 

Explain that you will not talk loudly during the birth and also try not to leave the woman afterwards , complete all notes in the room . Sometimes the most vulnerable time for a new mother is immediately after her child is born . Staying with her to help with positioning and handling of her baby will serve to strengthen her own belief in herself .

Avoid using terms such as “good girl” use the woman’s name to speak to her so that a sense of trust is built upon . 

Explain why prolonged skin to skin contact will help the woman after the birth , it is revalidating

If you think she might need your help with a shower or bath that’s fine – ancient cultures have washing rituals and cleansing is sometimes quite cathartic for a postnatal woman plus you are showing that you care about her and reaffirming that human kindness makes a difference to someone’s experience .

It’s important to be aware of fear of birth and how it manifests in women sometimes it’s difficult to recognise  in the antenatal period and might not be disclosed until labour . Women with a fear of birth  must’ve given time , feel listened to and feel supported . 

Whichever way the birth takes place stay with the woman , and be a constant for her . 

Read as many articles as you can about fear of birth let women know that you understand , follow @FearOfBirth , Yana Richens is a consultant midwife at University College Hospitals London NHS Trust who has just submitted her PhD on fear of birth , she has extensive knowledge and experience . Also Kathryn Gutteridge aka @Sanctummid who is a consultant midwife at Birmingham Women’s who recently co- hosted a tweet chat on  the @WeMidwives platform together with   @TheLovelyMaeve  Maeve O’Connell (a senior Irish Midwife who has also submitted her PhD) . The tweet chat discussed  the subject of Tocophobia . 

Lastly try to write a birth story for the woman from her newborn . When a woman sees words on paper that reflect how she gave birth and her newborns belief in her the effect is indescribable . This will pass into the next generation and you will be affirming birth to many others who read the letter. Never underestimate the effect that your actions , inactions or displays of love , kindness and compassion will have on a woman and her family , they will unknowingly to you. Quite simply your support kindness and compassion will last much longer than a lifetime. 

Thankyou for reading and thank you to wonderful Claire Harrison midwife and friend for believing in me and inspiring me to write this piece .

Love from Jenny 💛❤️💛XXXX

Babies, Being busy as a midwife, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Care of the elderly, Change management, Children, Community care, Compassion, Courage, Helping others, Hospital, Human rights, Kindness, Labour and birth, Learning, Media, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Nursing, Obstetrics, Patient care, Respect, Surgery, Teaching, Women's health, Young mothers, Young women

#LeadToAdd 

LeadToAdd click HERE to learn more is the latest NHS England campaign # is #LeadToAdd. As a Caremaker I will be linking this on Twitter with my work on #skinToskin , #futuremidwives and #couragebutter to inspire others to see themselves as leaders regardless of their role . Patients, women, families and non-clinical staff are also leaders .  
I feel this will inspire/activate different meanings to different people

Here are some of my thoughts around it

What does to lead mean ? 
To take charge , to be at the front , to inspire , to educate, to be diverse 
Leading is about being at the front and CONSTANTLY looking back to bring others with you

Leading is about being the first to begin something but not necessarily holding onto that but looking at how your actions impact on the way others fulfil their role. Leading is being a positive role model, leading is about looking inwards at your own behaviour and also looking outwards at the behaviour of others . 

In the NHS all staff need encouragement to recognise themselves as leaders and also to see that some behaviours do not embody leadership. We are all learning each day, so don’t stay still – question yourself and the way you speak to others . Ask a colleague to listen to you talking to patients and staff and to give you feedback -what could you change ? Integrate telephone conversations into drills training-  talk to your practice development team – think outside the box . 

Someone who leads others into poor practice is a poor leader but a leader non the less so be aware of your own commitment to pass the positive leadership baton . We are human and it’s ok to make mistakes , however we must learn, evolve and change .

The other day I had a car journey with Joan Pons Laplana (@ThebestJoan on twitter) and once again he made me think hard about how the 6Cs are integrated into practice . Joan said to me that as a health care professional all tasks and procedures must embody the 6Cs – even answering a telephone call. 
As a form of reflection I’d like you to read passage one and then passage two
Passage One 
Busy labour ward – phone ringing , midwife answered the phone – we will call the person making the call Tony and his partner who is having a baby is called Dolores. The midwives name will be Darcy . 
Midwife ( confident and cheery) ” hello labour ward , midwife speaking how can I help you?”
Tony (nervous voice) ” oh hi – err my partner thinks she’s in labour , it’s our first baby and we are a bit nervous . Could I ask you some questions , she’s here but having a contraction right now and then she feels sick for a few minutes after its gone. 
Midwife “oh right well I need to talk to her please and decide what’s happening’  
I’m not going to continue this but could the midwife change her approach ? Is this midwife you ? A colleague? This approach has been learnt from a peer
Passage Two 

Busy labour ward – phone ringing , midwife answered the phone – we will call the person making the call Tony and his partner who is having a baby is called Dolores. The midwives name will be Darcy . ….

Midwife ( confident and cheery) ” hello labour ward , my name is Darcy Jones I’m a midwife and how can I help you?”
Tony (nervous voice) ” oh hi Darcy – I’m Tony – err my partner Dolores thinks she’s in labour , it’s our first baby and we are a bit nervous . Could I ask you some questions , she’s here but having a contraction right now and then she feels sick for a few minutes after its gone. 
Midwife “ok well I would like to take some details first whilst Dolores has a contraction . Thank you so much for ringing us . How are you feeling ? This is your first baby ? How exciting for you both!” 
I’m not going to continue this but could the midwife change her approach In either scenario – which is the best one in your opinion ?  ? Is either of these scenarios you ? A colleague? This approach has been learnt from a peer. 
So you see two examples each one leaving the person contacting  the service with different emotions . 
Start your journey as a #LeadToAdd leader today  ❤️
Thank you for reading 
Love , Jenny ❤️

Antenatal education, Babies, Being busy as a midwife, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Change management, Children, Compassion, Courage, Helping others, Hospital, Human rights, Intra-operative care, Kindness, Labour and birth, Learning, Manual removal of the placenta, MatExp, Media, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Patient care, Post traumatic stress disorder, Postnatal care, Respect, Skin to skin contact, Surgery, Teaching, Women's health, Women's rights, Young mothers, Young women

The natural caesarean / the gentle caesarean 

There’s a debate on Twitter this morning about the ‘natural caesarean’ as a term that promotes a positive experience of birth by caesarean. I don’t agree with the term and I think as health care professionals working in the area of birth we should ensure that every birth is a positive birth . Milli Hill started the The Positive Birth Movement  with this goal in mind (@birthpositive on Twitter ) 

Bearing this in mind I’d like to ask the following questions for you to consider and share with with your colleagues, family , friends , midwives and obstetricians . 
1. How many women who have an emergency caeserean and/or instrumental birth (forceps or ventouse) are given information in the antenatal period about the far reaching health and psychological benefits of skin to skin contact in this setting to both mother and baby ? 

2. Compare the above with how many women are given information about  skin to skin contact around normal birth ? 

3. Compare both to how many woman are informed that skin to skin is possible during manual removal of placenta and repair of any perineal trauma in the theatre setting ? 

4. Are women informed 

  • They can TELL midwives to defer the weighing of their newborn in order to enjoy the benefits of prolonged skin to skin contact 
  • That they should never be separated from their baby unless a clinical situation becomes apparent or they themselves choose not to have skin to skin contact despite being FULLY informed
  • That their baby could ‘self latch’ at the breast without any handling by staff and also correct its own acidosis and stabilise its own breathing because of skin to skin contact ? 
  • That skin to skin and early breastfeeding “Pronurturance ” is linked to a reduction in the incidence of  postpartum haemorrhage?  CLICK RIGHT HERE for the Pronurturance paper 
  • That if babies could talk they would choose skin to skin contact despite their birth environment 
  • That skin to skin contact is the building block for a persons social and psychological development 

The midwives and staff on social media who talk about caesarean are not promoters of it , they are giving women information about choice – so that if the operation (which is major surgery) does take place then these women are able to not only enjoy their birth experience but give their relationship with their baby the best possible start . 

I suppose it’s similar to the question “does having a teenage pregnancy strategy increase teenage pregnancy rates ?  (and I much prefer the term  “young women”to ‘teenage pregnancy’) 

Does having full information about your choices if you do go on to have a caeserean increase caesarean rates ? I don’t know the answer to either of these questions but I do know that the women I have assisted and sometimes fought for to have skin to skin contact with their newborns in different birth situations have all told me this 

 
-that they never realised the positive impact it had on them as a successful mother

To me this is enough .   
Thank you for reading 

With love , Jenny ❤️

I am also promoting #MatExp as a platform which enables and encourages discussion between women, families and health care professionals . 

Antenatal education, Babies, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Change management, Children, Compassion, Courage, Discharge from hospital, Helping others, Hospital, Human rights, Intra-operative care, Kindness, Labour and birth, Learning, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Patient care, Postnatal care, Respect, Skin to skin contact, Surgery, Teaching, Women's rights, Young mothers

The Gentle Caesarean – Gentle with what ?

Last year I was lucky enough to work in a general theatre for a week . I met a wonderful general surgeon and watched him perform bowel surgery . I noticed immediately how gentle and kind he was with the internal tissues and how calm and respectful he was not only towards the patient and his body , but also the staff in the operating theatre. All the staff admired this surgeon – you know when you can just tell ?  

I asked the surgeon afterwards about his technique and he said this

 “I always respect the tissue Jenny- tissues , blood vessels  , muscle and skin are part  of our human make up and being gentle with them means I am showing tissue respect and respect to the patient who is a fellow human . Being a gentle surgeon takes longer but believe me the outcomes are better and I know that there is less trauma , post-op bleeding , infection, pain and therefore happier patients and staff .”

Currently there is a lot in the news and emerging research around “The Gentle caesarean” and I am looking at this from a different angle  (and for those who know me well I don’t do acceptance well – I like to ask things so that others unable to ask might think differently ) so I am questioning what this term “Gentle Caesarean” actually means . Does Gentle Caesarean mean just the moment of birth or should it be right from the decision or choice of the woman to have an operative birth through to arriving home ? 

So for all those who work in the field of midwifery , obstetrics , intra-operative care, surgery , pain management -I would like you to watch a caesarean from start to finish and ask yourself “was that a gentle caesarean from that the moment that the woman arrived in theatre ? Was there gentleness with the woman’s feelings and choices ? Did the obstetrician, scrub midwife and others maintain gentleness towards the internal tissues and the to the baby? Was the transfer to the bed from the operating theatre table gentle ? Was privacy and dignity maintained at all times? 

Just because we have always done something a certain way does not mean that “the way” is always the best . 

I hope I spark someone to change practice and make “The gentle caesarean” standard across the NHS because then it will spread  globally – we must question on a  daily basis what we do and why we do it .
Thank you for reading , please leave feedback and / or share this blog with your colleagues 
With love and midwifery kindness , 

❤️Jenny❤️
Addendum today I am thrilled that The Times journalist Katie Gibbons has written an article about skin to skin contact at Caesarean  CLICK HERE to access or being the rebel that I am here’s a photo 😁

 

Antenatal education, Babies, Birth, Breastfeeding, Children, Courage, Helping others, Human rights, Kindness, Labour and birth, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, NHS Systems and processes, Patient care, Postnatal care, Skin to skin contact, Teaching, Women's rights, Young mothers, Young women

Memories of skin to skin contact 

Those were the days weren’t they? Or were they ? 

This week I met up with a friend (pseudonym Niamh) who is a mother of four. She recounted to me each tender moment that each of her children was born . The last three were born by Caesarean section . “Did you hold them straightway?” I  asked .

Niamh replied “to be perfectly honest no – I held none of my children that were born by Caesarean section immediately in fact not for severel  hours ” Niamh then recounted to me the birth of her son – when he was about 6 hours old she had still not seen him properly and asked a midwife how he was doing – the midwife told her that he was fine but due to breathing problems he was in an incubator . SIX HOURS !! I want to add that no one had told her until she asked . 

If you are a midwife , an anaesthetist , an operating department practitioner or a theatre nurse. If you work in an operating theatre , or  if you teach those who do -I want you to think carefully about why we must all strive to keep mothers and babies together in the theatre setting . 

I know it’s becoming more common for skin to skin to happen and I realise that if it’s not happening that to fight the system and challenge separation is difficult but we must keep moving forwards  . The reason is simple – skin to skin makes babies happy and it makes mothers happy and feel like mothers . It reduces postnatal depression and admissions  to neonatal units , I’ve even seen it stabilise a mother’s parameters. There is new evidence emerging to show that in effect if Nimah had held her son straightaway he may not have been admitted to neonatal unit with breathing difficulties . 

Skin to skin is human nature – we must tell women why it’s important not just ask 

      “would you like skin to skin contact ?” 

We need to say

 “If you hold your baby immediately against your skin and WE will provide help and support . As a mother you can instantly reduce the chance of your baby producing  the stress hormone cortisol and this contact can and does have a positive nurturing effect that is invisible as it happening.

As health care professional we must practice evidence based medicine and skin to skin is evidence based . We are responsible for teaching why it matters – not just throwing it into a checklist, box ticking exercise . 

The ‘Niamh’ I am talking about is in her late 70s – her children ages range  from 38 to 48 years of age . Niamh recalls each birth , each separation  but even more than that she remembers her feelings of despair at wanting to see touch and smell her babies but feeling like she couldn’t ask . 

That to me puts it all into perspective .
If you’d like more evidence here is some of the latest publications 
Pronurturance 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871519215003558

Skin to skin at caesarean 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003519.pub3/pdf/

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mcn.12128/full 

I recommend you follow the following people and organisations so that you can converse  with those who are champions for skin to skin contact 

@JeniStevensS2S @CarolynHastie @HeartMummy @FWmaternitykhft @KathrynAshton1 @Natasha47 @Csectioninfocus @hannahdahlen @bloodtobaby @AAGBI 

Please take a look at my “skin to skin FB page”  for more resources 

https://www.facebook.com/Mother-Infant-contact-skin-to-skin-in-the-operating-theatre-setting-445225315630071/ 

Thank you for reading  #Keepgoing ❤️
With Love , Jenny ❤️

Antenatal education, Babies, Birth, Breastfeeding, Kindness, Labour and birth, Learning, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, NHS, Postnatal care, Skin to skin contact, Teaching, Young mothers, Young women

A little book of labour and L❤️ve  

A while ago one of my dearest friends appeared at the front door of my home .When I say dear friend, she’s the kind of friend that you might not see for a few weeks or months yet when you do see her it’s just as if you saw each other yesterday- as if no time has passed since you last saw one another .You know what I mean – you both remain the same age as when you first met and restart  a conversation exactly where you left off . You know the kind of friend I’m talking about – one that will drop anything  anytime when he/she  hears those words “I need you”. That is exactly what she did for me and continues to do for me so many times I’ve lost count . She shows no judgment , never tells me what I “need to do” , doesn’t gossip and listens to me with true friendship and love in her heart for me , which is equally as strong as the love I have for her . 

Anyway back to the door – my friend was standing there and before she spoke I knew something was wrong , very wrong . I could tell in the wildness of her hair ,  the look in her eyes , the way she was standing and her sense of upset . I pulled her inside my home and hugged her . The news was that her 15 year old daughter “Verity” was pregnant .

We talked and I recalled a celebrity that once said ( I’m sorry but I’ve forgotten who it was) ….

” it might not be the right time or the right situation , but it will always be the right baby” 

I said those words to my friend , I listened , I didn’t tell her what to do I just gave her the love back that she’s always given me . 

The months went by and her daughter “Verity” (name changed for reasons of privacy)  was blooming , looking beautiful everything was going well . I sensed however that she was worried about labour and I decided to make her my “Little book for labour ”  I felt I had to do something to help her prepare in order to realise her own strength and to believe in her capability to give birth . I started the book I didn’t want to make it boring or prescriptive but fun and positive . I also realised the importance of going through the book , discussing induction of labour , vaginal examinations , acting on complications, early labour, food, and breastfeeding but most of all key support people and after the birth . 

So to sum up the book was a success with Verity . We held  a  “mini” Jen & Verity one to one antenatal group in my lounge which taught me things about not just what younger women want to know (perhaps women of all ages?) . I really don’t know if I could’ve written it in the same manner if I hadn’t made it especially for Verity . She calls me “Auntie Jen” so I wrote it not just as a midwife , but as her dear mum’s friend and as an “auntie”. 

Veritys baby is now over two years old and her birth was beautiful. I wasn’t there but my friend was ,they took the book in and read it . There were no complications and the birth was physiological . 

Last night I asked Verity if I could borrow the book back to look at it – I’d not seen it for over two years. Verity had kept it safe and sound – I was thrilled that she still had it . 

So here are a selection of pages from the book  – I am very proud of it but more proud of Verity and her beautiful daughter . It’s going straight back to Verity after I’ve published my blog.  (not her real name) 
Thank you for reading 
❤️Jenny ❤️

   
    
    
 

Birth, Breastfeeding, Courage, Kindness, Learning, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, NHS, Postnatal care, Teaching, Women's rights

Seeing the whole picture 

Each person we meet and care for  has their own story. 

As health care workers we must keep striving to tune into those that we care for – humility is needed and an ability to connect. Digital technology is a huge part of record keeping so it’s essential to realise that ‘CARE’ is not simply a tick box exercise but in fact a multi dimensional emotional process that may not have a solid beginning or ending . 

Trying to step into another humans story is a spiritual art form   – the way that we listen as well as the way we speak can have an immense impact on what a person imparts. A brusque manner can inhibit a connection, prevent sharing of valuable information, foster a disjointed attitude and is totally destructive to the priceless treasure of two way communication and empathy . A kind compassionate manner however, can help a person to open up and share information about themselves by helping them to relax and feel a sense of trust towards the other person. There are some people who have this off to a fine art and if you know such a person watch and learn from them you will gain so much. 

As midwives If we exude warmth and kindness we will send out positive connections – this will improve the oxytocin response and give women a feel good factor about themselves which will facilitate positive pregnancy ,labour, birth and breastfeeding . We underestimate the power we have to influence women and their ability to nurture themselves and their young . 

The midwife in the operating theatre setting who sends out signals of peace and calm by helping the woman to have skin to skin contact with her newborn is instrumental to the health of the world – she is brave and courageous and more than that she epitomises “human-kindness” itself.

The midwife who is able to read signals from the new father and help him to open up and see his strengths and yet embrace his own vulnerability is an asset to the family unit. 

The midwife who acts as an advocate for the same sex couple who want to avoid induction yet at the same time stay safe helps them to feel like they have been empowered and respected yet also like it’s their own choice . 

These are all examples of the wonderful work that midwives do and it’s time to celebrate all the admirable midwifery role models out there that inspire so many . 

Let’s all keep doing what we do well and try to improve a little each day . Let’s not stay still or remain where we are but let’s keep moving forwards for the mothers the fathers and the children of the universe. The world needs positive role models in midwifery some are visible some are hidden so seek them out shine a light on them and give them a loud cheer . 

Thankyou for reading – please be kind 

Jenny ❤️

Birth, Breastfeeding, Cancer, Children's week, Courage, Dying, Kindness, Learning, Midwifery and birth, NHS, Nursing, Teaching

“it just might just be you”

hope this poem gives you a view
To be kind to others & to yourself be true 

Hospitals, clinics & community work

Its fellow humans you’re caring for so please don’t shirk 

They need your love,passion, time & explanation  

Please focus on the way you give communication 

Consider your language & the way you speak

Empathy is strength , it does not mean you’re weak

Holding a hand & reassurance ain’t just talk 

Its shows through your eyes – means your walking the walk  

The person you are caring for is a human other

-a sister, brother,friend,father, mother

Be mindful of their thoughts and the way  they might be feeling

From an illness or accident that’s left them reeling 

Treat and approach colleagues with zero hierarchy 

collaboration doesn’t support any of that malarkey 

See the whole human, not  just the condition

Be holistic and please let this be your sole mission

Allow care,competence, kindness to guide you through 

As one day that “person”  – well it just might be you 

@JennyTheM 

Babies, Birth, Breastfeeding, Discharge from hospital, Kindness, Learning, Midwifery and birth, New parents, NHS, Postnatal care, Skin to skin contact, Teaching, Women's rights

Transfer from hospital to Community care – planning in maternity services 

There is so much written about discharge planning for Care of the Elderly / Unscheduled care / patients requiring rehabilitation .

Currently there are extra pressures on maternity services and I have set out my objectives as to why I want to discuss postnatal discharge planning below 

1.To highlight beacons of positivity 

2.To inspire discussion 

3. To make discharge planning an intrinsic part of the admission process 

4. To identity where a same day transfer should not be promoted

5. To make the actual ‘time of discharge’ a governance issue  

6. Share good practice and eliminate bad practice 

7. Raise the profile of effective discharge planning in maternity services 

I have learnt from others and by listening to families how the NHS could streamline the discharge process I’m certain that this would make a positive impact on staff time , families understanding , effective communication , reduce complaints and develop a well rounded understanding of the  discharge process. 

Going home with a newborn is seen as an easy and smooth process so my blog will try to help parents as well as midwives and maternity workers to see that this is not always the case. 

The best time to be discharged home is in the morning , however the pressure on postnatal wards is immense and they have one of the fastest turnovers in the NHS . So often we hear of women and newborn being sent home at ridiculous hours and  HERE is an article about this in Mother and Baby 

So how can we streamline the discharge process ? 

A. Find out if the family have transport home 

B. Start the discharge paperwork by checking address and phone number are correct 

C. Ensure medication to take home is requested as soon as possible 

D. Promote and explain why prolonged skin to skin contact will ensure not only breastfeeding success but also maternal and newborn wellbeing and that continued skin to skin contact is important as well as talking to the newborn and feeling calm (it’s crucial to discuss co-sleeping and I usually direct parents to ISISSLEEP as well as explaining – I’m not going to go into depth about this now, but  I do with parents.  

E. Ask about support at home – visitors who come and help are very valuable and aid recovery and coping . At the same time it’s important that the new family have some time alone in order to gain confidence in being new parents and learning to recognise various cues that their newborn makes .  

F. Go through thoroughly signs and symptoms of illness for mother and baby and mention sepsis – any infection caught early improves the outcome. 

G. Ensure all levels of midwifery staff are competent to discharge women and babies home – in busy times when there are pressures on the service this will facilitate an “all hands on deck” situation 

H. Employ a discharge facilitator who can assist clinical staff to organise the paper trail 

I. Have a generic checklist to refer to primarily so that women and families can see what the process entails and secondly so that staff do not miss any of the steps involved and this will avoid mistakes and maintain communication at all levels .  

J. The first point of contact in regard to any queries should always be the labour ward and / or community midwife . Midwives are responsible for postnatal care up to 6 weeks post birth – I am proud to say that when women present at labour wards they are seen quickly – a walk in centre or a triage service are not equipped to deal with postnatal care – midwives are . 

Explanation, discussion , allowing time and two way communication are all integral to a successful discharge process . I like to tell families that the discharge is in effect a transfer of care to the community midwifery team and also what to expect from the visit. Midwives do not expect families to be up , dressed and ready with the house perfect – they are visiting to see how families  are feeling and coping . To assess if the baby is feeding well and to give support . 

Rushing the process because of pressure has no value and affects communication in a negative manner – it’s so valuable to discuss why discharging takes time at antenatal group and have information on discharge at clinic appointments . 

Ideas such as group work on the postnatal ward to increase questions and save time are being developed in various NHS trusts and discharge guidelines should be updated regularly to match the process. 

Talking about safe regular analgesia and how to take medication will improve recovery , reduce infection , help mobility and be key to reducing venous thromboembolism . Perineal pain is real – it hurts – but in the first day it may not be as bad until the woman arrives home and starts to question her pain threshold . Pain management is part of postnatal care and can make the difference between good recovery and feeling awful for days . 

Perinatal mental health care is gradually improving and it takes skill and experience for midwives to recognise it if the woman is reluctant to disclose . Continuity of carer and knowing ones midwife makes talking about postnatal depression and anxiety easier – but we still have a lot of work to do . HERE The Guardian highlights perinatal anxiety . Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is now a recognised illness caused by trauma around birth – communication and compassion at birth can reduce this and I recently received a letter from a woman telling me that skin to skin contact helped her to cope during an emergency situation – so there’s something to consider .  I am proud to know Emma Sasaru who has PTSD and courageously BLOGS  in order to help other mothers to recognise the signs and how to seek help . 

As the midwife completing the discharge YOUR responsibility is also to ensure the baby is feeding  and that you have observed a feed and given the mother support. Talking about maintaining milk supply and support groups as well as how to recognise that the baby is thriving must be discussed . It’s just as important to explain and know the family understands how to make up milk if the baby is not being breastfed.

 The neonatal examination is not a future prediction of health it just says the baby is fine at the moment it is done . Any signs like continuing sleepiness, a very quiet baby , poor muscle tone and slow weight gain might be indicators  of poor health – mothers usually have an instinct about these things so listen well and get the baby seen by a paediatrician – don’t manage the baby at home without senior input . 

Finally time of discharge is an issue – do families reall want to go home at 23.00 or 3am ? It’s a personal choice but CHOICE it must remain there is no place for sending women and newborns home in the middle of the night – does it happen in any other department? I have never heard of children being sent home in the night or elderly patients so why should we accept it for women or maternity services?  If you have concerns that families are bring sent home at inappropriate times there is action you can take – escalate it to your line manager , fill out an incident form , discuss at your team meeting and raise with your governance lead. Ask other units what they do and be pro-active . 

The main point I want to get across is that discharge from hospital is a complex process . It is much more effective when there is two way communication between midwives / obstetricians and families . Talking about going home must start as soon as the admission process starts. Discharging someone home must be a high quality , thorough , kind and efficient task. It must also be individualised and embody compassionate care . Use your skills in effective discharge and teach them to future midwives – it’s important to share good practice. 

I hope I have raised your interest  in discharge planning . I appreciate and value all feedback and understand there may be some points I have missed . My main aim is to promote thought , discussion and change . 

❤️Thankyou for reading  

Love Jenny ❤️