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#BirthLeadership ©️ is Born

Today is an exciting day for me . I have just registered a new hashtag that I hope will influence every woman and midwife . The hashtag is

#BirthLeadership ©️

As a midwife one of my aims is to display leadership towards women in order to support them through their labour and birth . I hope that this cascades onto future midwives so that they too can show leadership. This process may involve eye contact , holding hands , a hand on a shoulder , researching,debating decisions, reading information, challenging the system BUT together as a team to help make women feel like they are the leaders of their own births . Whatever the mode of birth it’s right that midwives let go and give the lead control to the woman . This can be through education and sharing views but first and foremost it must be about midwives listening to women’s hearts, voices, dreams and plans.

Midwives begin by championing women’s choices so that birth is given back to women .

Sheena Byrom OBE and Professor Soo Downe of UCLAN co-wrote an research article called “She sort of shines” Click here for PDF

in Box 1 as above the midwives interviewed were asked about the connection between leadership identifying commonalities between both .

The huge psychological impact of having no voice in a birth is well documented and can have long term physiological effects on a woman’s mental health . Studies on post birth PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) often highlight the lost voice of the woman and her fear of speaking out .

Birth leadership is created so that every midwife questions her own practice in order to ask herself “am I displaying birth leadership skills?” – in other words “what am I giving to this woman and her birth to relinquish my control and give her the lead in her own birth”

Let’s take for example coached pushing in the second stage of labour something which is neither evidence based practice or conducive to effective care – yet still it goes on. Click here for NICE guidance in 2nd stage of labour April 19

Some midwives FOLLOW this tradition and their fear of changing practice influences others negatively, preventing birth leadership in some NHS maternity units.

We must become champion challengers and this doesn’t mean loudly-it can be quite subtle and indeed this quiet way is less likely to disrupt a woman’s oxytocin flow – promoting both a sense of security and safety .

Let’s talk optimal cord clamping – and how Amanda Burleigh knew in her midwifery bones that immediate cord clamping wasn’t quite right – it didn’t sit well in her midwifery skin- @OptimalCordClamping showed Birth Leadership and started to challenge research and change practice which led to optimal cord clamping (OCC) being included on NICE guidance – Quality statement on OCC Amanda’s Birth Leadership is ongoing and she has inspired others to talk about OCC by inspiring them for example Hannah Tizard who is @BloodToBaby on Twitter . This is true practice change for women and babies . Here’s Amanda’s twitter feed .

The way you act in and out of work shows the person you really are . Your aim should always be to help others as much as you’d help yourself – keep that formula equal every minute in your midwifery career and you won’t go wrong .

Women need to know we care ❤️

Try and wear a new pair of glasses when you go into work – sit in a different chair for your lunch , ask colleagues “what are my good and bad habits?”, question your usual behaviour and remember why you became a midwife – to give the lead to women.

Birth leadership is about small steps or huge steps beginning with the next woman you are with as she gives birth .

If you have shown birth leadership of any kind use #BirthLeadership and tweet about it

Here are a few Birth Leadership examples

SkinToSkin in the operating theatre

Not weighing a baby until after it’s first feed

Leading a woman to change position in the second stage to avoid lithotomy

Helping a woman to birth and hold her stillborn baby and making the family a safe space ❤️

Helping a woman who has been constantly monitored on CTG to the bathroom for a walk and a wash

Being silent as a woman is in the second stage of labour

Supporting a woman compassionately through a difficult birth

Helping a woman to avoid unnecessary internal examinations

Being a baby’s advocate when the woman is having a GA Caesarean

Holding a woman’s hand in an emergency situation

Caring for a woman’s relatives as well as the woman herself

Here is an uplifting reply from @FWmaternity co-founder of MatExp and inspiring obstetrician who is supportive of Midwives and promotes her Trusts home birth team ❤️

NB please don’t think this about starting a campaign yourself although that would be great it’s about sharing the little things that signify BirthLeadership to inspire change – so please add yours on Twitter ❤️

Thank you for reading

Yours in Birth leadership love

Jenny ❤️

PS

Please add your comments to my blog – I welcome all feedback

❤️Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say, “We did it ourselves!”

Tao Te Ching – ancient Chinese quote about what being a midwife means ❤️

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Midwives – Defenders of women’s rights @JennyTheM ©️ #IDM2019

5.5.19 is international day of the Midwife and my blog is dedicated to all Midwives who have made a difference by defending a woman from any unnecessary intervention – be that anytime related to pregnancy 🤰🏾 antenatally , during any kind of birth or postnatally.

I’ve decided to share three stories which are true experiences written by midwives about defending women. One of the stories is mine but I won’t say which one .

As clinical midwives we are seen as equal members of the huge maternity wheel alongside women and their families, managers, obstetricians, future midwives , maternity support workers and many more – although in reality there is a hierarchy that many within our own discipline and other disciplines are striving to challenge and change .

The truth in plain sight is that just one member of the team is not engaged or equally involved (including the woman) then the intricate workings of the mechanism will be disrupted.

Women and families = get to know your midwife/midwives . Ask questions , be curious. Read books that are informative, recommended and that explain your bodies and your babies abilities with balance and clarity . Try the Positive Birth book by Milli Hill Click HERE to see on Amazon (founder of The Positive Birth Movement) .

Prepare yourself as much as you can. Don’t leave any stone of knowledge or information unturned . Join a positive birth group Click here to find out more . Be aware that midwives are defenders of women – talk to other women and find the midwife that helps you to believe in yourself . You’ll know when you’ve found her – don’t settle for second best. I believe women should rock the boat of maternity services like pregnancy pirates. Try reconnecting with midwife from a previous birth if you have other children – it’s evidence that continuity pf carer will reduce your chance of interventions so ask to see the same midwife at your appointments. Look at the birth statistics of your local units and choose wisely – ❤️ The Which birth guide is a good resource although might need updating Click HERE to view

Managers = be insightful of how staffing levels and skill mix will impact positively or negatively on birth outcomes – when you arrive to help us in our hour of need ask not what we can do but show us what you can do to improve our shift . Stay curious ❤️

Obstetricians = be mindful of the physiology of the female form and how your positive or negative behaviour will impact on the delicate balance of all hormones involved in playing out the birth process . Watch midwives working see them as equals . Stay curious ❤️.

Midwives = be aware of why you are a midwife. Embrace your role as not to

“do to”

but to

“be with”

to defend,to stand up for ,to support, to strengthen and to keep safe. Unite the team with your passion for all births❤️. Stay curious

Maternity support workers I am thankful for you all – you do support ❤️- your gratitude towards the midwives that make the toast and tea for the family and ensure rooms are left clean before transferring women from them . (we do ask other midwives to follow our suit) as we know you always have work to do within the scenes and behind them – running the operating theatre, birth-room turnaround time , restocking , clinical work, bringing the team together , being aware of all areas . The camaraderie and team work you display so strongly within your discipline is a benchmark for us all . Stay curious

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Three stories of defending

Read on reader ….

Story one

The elective premature Caesarean birth – a courageous Midwife

All eyes upon me , the baby is only 34 weeks old . The mother’s instinct to hold her newborn is tangible I hear her breath . The paediatric team stand around the resuscitaire , prepped , ready, waiting and impatient. Something inside me tells me “give the baby to the mother , give the baby to the mother” After delayed cord clamping I cocoon the newborn in a warm towel without touching and within seconds I’m helping the mother with her first embrace. Time stands still. I monitor the baby closely but without words for colour , breathing , heart rate (with my stethoscope) tone and reaction , a saturation monitor on the baby’s right hand (pre-ductal) reassures me. All is good . I offer to take photos of mum dad and baby, mum and baby , baby’s hands touching mum , many photographic variations evolve in so little time . I look across at the paediatrician- she knows me, trusts me – she smiles at me and nods mouthing “it’s ok” . Five or more minutes have passed – mum knows it’s time . Dad carries his newborn to be seen by the team . Mum is crying not with sadness but with joy that hers was the first skin to touch her newborns , then her partners – this is how every new beginning of life should be – we Midwives must step aside but wait in the wings ready to prompt or assist- our silent presence is reassuring to the family ❤️

It was all worth the fear – afterwards I hug the paediatrician and say “thank you for trusting me ” the mother scrolls through her photos in disbelief that her only ever precious child started its journey against her skin – I am a defender ❤️

Story Two

The “Failed” Induction challenging a decision

“Can I help ?” I offered “Oh great” replied the ward Midwife “we are so busy!! Can you go with the consultant to see the woman who’s Induction didn’t work ?”

I’d been sent from labour ward to help on the antenatal area . The consultant was counselling an elderly primigravida ( over 45 years old) . The woman “Joy” (false name) was being told that two attempts at induction and due to her age that a caesarean would be for the best . I was sent to get the consent sheets . I’d just completed the AQUA shared decision making course and I was keen to put what I’d learnt into practice.

The time on the clock was 16.55 so bear that in mind .

What happened next was that the consent forms were handed to the woman after the risk of Caesarean was explained . The woman dutifully signed the consent forms and the consultant left the department. Something inside me told me this didn’t feel right . My instinct and experience made me go back to the woman and her partner. I asked them if they were okay with everything. In fact I went as far as saying “are you okay about your Caesarean birth?” They both voiced their concerns but felt they haven’t been given a choice. I wanted to discuss further so I went to the phone and rang the consultant to return . The phone call did not go well -the consultant was quite irked that I’d phoned told me to check the clock and to ring the consultant on call.

I rang the on call consultant who came and discussed further the choices the woman had with her and her partner . She opted for an attempt at labour following artificial rupture of her membranes which would all take place on the labour ward .

To cut a long story short the woman progressed to 5cm dilatation and remained there . She was very pleased with the fact that she’d experienced labour and been listened to . Her caesarean birth was a positive unhurried experience.

A few weeks later I came face to face with the first consultant one my day off – I’d come into work to attend a two hour study session . The consultant openly criticised me in front of a new senior registrar who I’d never met before – belittled springs to mind . “Thank you for overruling my decision to plan a Caesarean without labour” were the words. I stated clearly that the best way to clarify the situation was to determine how the woman felt – “are you invited to the naming ceremony of the baby ?” I asked “no” was the consultant’s curt reply – “well here’s my invite” I said (by coincidence I’d found it in the staff mail box that day) . The consultant went quiet and walked away . I am a defender ❤️

Story Three

Rebalancing the birth hormones

I met Nasrit about one hour into my shift in the morning. (name changed) . The community midwives has brought her in because her labour had slowed then stopped. Nasrit was having her third child, she lived with anxiety and panic attacks which were inherited from her childhood . My opinion was that her fear had disrupted her birth hormones – I discussed this with her – she held my hand tightly . I went to the midwives station and put Nasrit’s name on the board – as I did I could hear staff chipping in “does she need an ARM?” “Get the syntocinon running when the Reg arrives ” “is she actually labouring ?”

I pretended not to hear the comments . I was going to go back to Nasrit, Nasrit’s partner and Nasrit’s mother . My plan was to try and get Nasrit into a birthing state of mind . I wanted to make her at home. In giving her possession of her room I made her space – no lights , quiet , no interruptions and a haven for her birth . I keep a set of battery powered fairy lights in my locker and I’m trained to use aromatherapy. My key goals were to make sure I had everything in the room that Nasrit needed and nothing in the room that anyone else needed -there were going to be no interruptions. I used a blend of lavender and frankincense in hot water as a room infusion. I explained to Nasrit how aromatherapy would work. I then turned off all the lights and switched on the fairy lights . As an equal I explained to Nasrit and her family how relaxing can help oxytocin and that anxiety can hinder by producing cortisol and adrenaline . Nasrit was with me . I sat and held her hand (at her request ) we all waited without talking . I reiterated that there was no pressure . It took about 15 minutes for Nasrits heart rate to drop from 96 to 68 – she was breathing more calmly .

Over the next two hours Nasrit’s labour recommenced and soon she was holding her newborn skin to skin . I never left the room .

All was well

I am a defender ❤️

Summary

So the reason for my blog is for you to try and reflect on your own practice as a midwife and find those times when you were a defender. Look to see when you recognise fellow defenders through their words and actions . Try not to ask “does this feel right for the woman ? ” “is the woman’s face reflecting agreement or disagreement ”

Stay curious and keep defending

❤️We are defenders❤️

#IDM2019

Post script dedication I’m dedicating this blog to all midwives in hardship – whether physically, emotionally or financially. The Cavell Trust is a charity that helps nurses , health care assistants , maternity support workers and midwives Click HERE for more information

Thank you for reading my blog .

Yours in midwifery love

JennyTheM ❤️

Stay curious

and like Professor Lesley Page (@Humanisingbirth on Twitter) be the leader of the dance ❤️❤️

Anaesthetics, Antenatal education, Babies, Being a mum, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Change management, Communication, Compassion, Courage, culture in nhs, Fear of Birth, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Human rights, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, leadership, Learning, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Postnatal care, Skin to skin contact, Student Midwives, Women's health, Women's rights, zero separation

The birth of my son

25 years ago today I gave birth by Caesarean to my second child . A boisterous boy to compliment my daughter who had been waiting to become a big sister for over 5 years .

I was so excited about going into labour as I was now a midwife – I “knew” what to do – I felt positive and excited .

A few weeks before my due date I suspected my baby was breech and told the consultant “Oh Jenny why are you doing self palpation ? “It’s obviously cephalic” he said (I didn’t know I was going to have a boy ) – “stop worrying!!”

Off I went on my merry way .

Fast forward to my term appointment with my midwife (I had started to have a few niggles but I was determined not to rush into hospital and previous complications meant a home-birth wasn’t an option) . My midwife confirmed my concerns – the baby is breech and there’s nothing in the pelvis at all . I was sent to the hospital – I felt annoyed with myself .

About 5 hours later I was in theatre having a spinal in preparation for a Caesarean. In those days the false evidence of the vaginal breech trial was forced upon many women – I was frightened into having a Caesarean – I truly felt robbed .

I took it all on the chin and decided that it as a midwife would be an asset to have experience of normal birth and Caesarean. This personal experience of mine would help women to know that I’d understand and support them through any birth .

At my Caesarean my son was born – I saw him for less than a few seconds and he was whisked out of theatre into an ante room . There he was wiped down, rubbed, touched and handled by midwives. Then my son was measured,weighed, given vitamin k dressed and wrapped up . I didn’t hold him for 4 hours and I wish I’d been able to.

Not having skin to skin contact in the Operating theatre hasn’t affected the relationship I have with my son . I did however long to hold him whilst I was in theatre and kept asking where he was and when I could see him.

Not having skin to skin contact has made me determined to educate women and those who attend birth in the operating theatre as to why skin to skin it’s so utterly important- it’s a physiological norm for human mammals .

Each time I’m with a woman in the operating theatre I don’t feel angry or upset about my experiences- I just feel very thankful and grateful that times are changing and that skin to skin is becoming normal in the theatre environment.

Skin to skin was never mentioned to me at all for my son’s birth – God forbid a woman would want to hold her baby whilst being operated on in the 1990s !!

Well thank goodness times have changed and that there are lots of brilliant midwives, theatre nurses , obstetricians, anaesthetists and operating department practitioners who know why skin to skin matters . In helping families they are changing the system. They realise that birth in the Operating theatre isn’t about “their theatre” functioning in the same way it always had done but about making the Operating theatre a “family space” .

Once I got to the ward a dear colleague of mine (who has since retired) came to see me and asked me if I’d had skin to skin contact. I hadn’t even fed my son yet!! – luckily my son was a sturdy 8 pounder . My lovely friend passed my son to me so that I could take his sleep suit off , explore his skin , check his fingers and toes , gaze into his face and start our journey as mother and son . He was soon breastfeeding and I felt relieved that my friend had supported me .

If you are wondering whether I’d be such a protagonist for skin to skin if my second birth had been different? I know I would be !! The infamous Dr Nils Bergman set off my interest in why skin to skin matters for all newborns and he instilled in me a duty to spread the word.

I am really proud to have helped many women to overcome their doubts and fears about skin to skin in the operating theatre and I hope I continue this journey with many more families.

This blog is dedicated to my son and daughter who have made me the mother who I am .

Happy birthday son ❤️.

Thank you all for reading.

With love

❤️Jenny ❤️

Being busy as a midwife, Birth, Compassion, Courage, culture in nhs, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, leadership, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Night shifts in the NHS, Obstetrics, organisational development, shift handover, Student Midwives, Working from the heart

This is the way it’s always been – Labour ward night shift to day shift handover NHS ❤️

You may find yourself on a NHS Labour ward at approximately 7am one morning . Everyone is assembling for morning handover . Over the shoulders is being lifted up into bobbles and held back by clips. Pens, hand-creams, mints , note books , mini hand gels all squeezed into powerful pockets. The “not allowed” mobiles are hidden from plain sight “just in case my son/daughter’s school need me” or to “google something”

Some night shift midwives sit in the office desperate to get home – they look worn out and you want to hug them saying “you will go home on time” but you know it’s a lie Other midwives are out of sight – they remain “with woman” in rooms praying that the handover will go smoothly with minimal interruptions. They want the transition from one midwife to another to be compassionate, woman centred, slow and not hurried .

“Don’t forget the midwife on the birth centre – the woman she’s midwifing is in the pool and about to give birth any minute” says the maternity support worker as she leaves . “Has that Midwife had a break?” – “Not sure” comes the reply.

Drs hang around to chip in with their findings and recommendations as well as chomping on leftover unappetising snacks from the tea trolley. The wheeled aluminium “redeployed” dressing trolley cocoons several slices of curled up toast covered with re solidified butter and cups of cold tea in a hard steel exterior as if to say “this wasn’t my original job”

Seats are hard to come by and woe betide the future midwife who gets a chair before a senior Midwife . Some staff arrive late and hide just behind the door pretending they’ve been there all along – but they did go home late last night . Not one manager in sight .

There are comments circulating “I didn’t leave until 10pm last night!! ” “I’ve only had one day post nights now I’m back on days” “my son is poorly but I’ve sent him to school” “how is ***** in room 2?” “who is in theatre ?”

The labour ward lead’s face demands silence – report starts 3 minutes late – you can taste the angst .

The night staff are supposed to finish their shift approximately 15 minutes after the day shift start theirs . The night shift rarely leave on time and luckily someone has the foresight to recognise that the maternity support workers can go home as their reinforcements have arrived to take over – they like the new shift midwives and Drs smell of new freshly applied deodorant . Many perfumes and aftershaves mingle and brighten up the stale office air. The virtual RHS of the NHS in one tiny space.

Now do the math -for one lead Midwife to hand over the cases and care of 8-16 women to the other in just 5 minutes (depending on the different labour wards in the nhs ) so that the day team can split and go to their allocated families, THEN have another more detailed handover (but VERY similar in principal to the one in the handover room) is nigh on impossible- in fact it is INCROYABLE.

So many night staff leave late – some have many miles and hours to drive or travel in a post nights shift state of mind in order to reach the comfort of their own slumber stations. Some wisely choose to pay to sleep in hospital accommodation as they daren’t risk driving. Others travel as they don’t want to be away from home , they need to be up at 2.30pm to collect their children or their children’s children from school and then possibly cook dinner then prepare themselves for their third or fourth night shift .

Staff leave but not before putting their “time owing” in the designated book – it’s not paid you see – even thought leaving late is beyond their control . This is the NHS

So what’s the solution ? I’m not sure there even is one. If you compare the way office workers start their day there is a great disparity happening between humans who work.

It’s about time staff handover had a shake up – be punctual, be succinct , keep your opinions out of report , respect ALL. Allow each midwife to handover each women / family she/he is caring for with the back up of a written SBAR and encourage the lead midwife to take a step back . Someone somewhere must have an idea ??

It’s a handover state of mind .

We are all leaders

Thank you for reading

My thoughts

Jenny The M ❤️©

Courage, culture in nhs, leadership, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Psychology, Respect

The Art of Leadership © Jenny Clarke

So many books , blogs , articles have been written about leadership and what it means to be a leader .

Bad, poor and insufficient leadership will and does impact on many lives within the work environment as well as lots of public places that we visit – poor leadership highlights faults in schools , places of education, libraries, cafes , shops and transport among many others.

In the NHS frontline employees exist within the world of patients , colleagues, service users and relatives. Sometimes in their lives those employees cross from that “safe” world to become a visitor in it as they help their own relatives at appointments, visits to accident and emergency departments, hospital wards , maternity units and may even become service users themselves.

Today I took my family out for breakfast. My daughter and her partner, my son , my niece and her daughter (my great niece) . Four of us had variations of the same breakfast , one had a routine breakfast, my great niece had a children’s portion of an adult meal and we played around with the coffee choices . The young woman who served us kept her cool all the way through the order and never once did her smile drop , “Katie” said “yes” to all our demands and agreed to everything. Even though I could feel the eyes of the person behind me boring a hole into the back of my head , Katie was impervious to this . So in my view Katie is a leader she is an ambassador for the place we ate at . Because of Katie we will go again – separately or together.

Leaders are people who give others positive experiences, they are kind , compassionate and caring . Leaders understand. Leaders don’t embarrass people in front of others or put themselves first . Leaders don’t embarrass themselves – non leaders do .

Leaders put others first -right at that moment when others need to be put first . The nurse who helps the elderly man through the heavy non-automatic hospital doors is a leader . The cleaner who stops doing his job to show someone the right way to a department is a leader .

The manager who pulls a Midwife out of a room (where the midwife is caring for a woman in advanced labour) to discuss “an issue” is not a leader . The professional who berates a colleague in front of other colleagues is not a leader . The colleague who stops the professional from doing this is a leader . The junior Dr who answers the labour ward phone because everyone is busy and tries her best to deal with the call is a leader .

A leader doesn’t brag , belittle , gossip or drag down . A leader is self effacing , true , shows continuous integrity and raises others up .

A leader simply goes about doing the best she/he can to make life better for others and this in turn will make her/ his own life more enjoyable.

Leadership is not about control but about uplifting others ❤️

Look for the leaders where you work . Aspire to be like them – make a note of what it is about them that you admire.

Put some of that magic into your own self at work .

If you’d like to read another blog I have written about leadership for NHS Leadership Academy called “Leadership Is an every day event” then please Click here to read

Be kind ❤️

My thoughts

Thank you for reading

JennyTheM ❤️

Children, culture in nhs, data colllection, Digital, freedom of information, Hospital, human resources, Labour , birth, leadership, Media, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, occupational health, organisational development, parents, Patient care, soeaking out, staff allocation, Student Midwives

Raising perceptions of midwifery ©️

This is a current drive in the NHS so I’ve decided it’s time for me to blog about it .

We are often told as midwives that it’s not about working harder but working smarter .

I’d like to try and find out if there is data collected about individual Trusts . The data would perhaps identify times when staffing was low , what the risks were to the women and the pattern of incident reports on those occasions . I also suggest that all maternity units have a duty of care to their staff to maintain accurate , exact records on how women are allocated to midwives, midwives individual workloads and time spent on NHS computers for work and personal use – this should be reviewed on a monthly basis and as part of FOI be available to the public . Do NHS Trusts that are using their own full time maternity staff to supplement staff absence and sickness assess the wellbeing of those staff? Is there a collaboration with occupational health , organisational development and Human Resources departments to review whether or not satisfactory and timely breaks were given. When this is quantified does it identify a distinct association with lack of breaks , working unpaid overtime , poor culture and is there a correlation with staff sickness and absence ?

it’s time now to look at the bigger picture and collect data on these topics as well as birth statistics , outcomes , morbidly and mortality .

Thank you for reading

Yours in midwifery love

Jenny ❤️