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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 ❤️©

Babies, Being a mum, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Communication, Compassion, Hospital, Human kindness, Human rights, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS, Obstetrics, Skin to skin contact, Women's rights, zero separation

SkinToSkin poem © by Jenny Clarke

it really doesn’t matter where you are

Home , hospital , Operating theatre, birth-pool or sat on a star 🌟

The ultimate way for a baby’s life to begin

Is right next to her mother in SkinToSkin

Your baby doesn’t care what she weighs

Read and digest the ATAIN study – we adore what that says

SkinToSkin contact for babies 37 weeks or more

can reduce unplanned admissions to special care- that’s the score

It helps stop separation of you and your baby

That’s a fact – no ifs,buts or maybe

Prolonged SkinToSkin makes you more of a team

So that baby can understand you (and vice versa) – see what we mean ?

SkinToSkin is no fad, craze or latest trend

SkinToSkin makes mother’s better mothers that’s why @JennyTheM is here to bend

your ears soon in Breastfeeding Week.

I have read all the research by the SkinToSkin geeks

I am giving you the evidence and it’s right up your street

So make plans , prepare for SkinToSkin don’t leave it to chance

When your baby gets SkinToSkin she’ll move about – a newborn birth dance

SkinToSkin sets off behaviour ,keeps baby’s calm

Us humans are mammals -made to keep our young warm

So at birth just consider how your baby will feel

SkinToSkin will tell her –

YOU ARE the real deal ❤️

© @JennyTheM 27.3.19

My next blog will be about the need for correct positioning for mother and baby (or other mother and baby or father and baby ) in order for SkinToSkin to reach its full potential and benefits ❤️

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 ❤️

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

❤️

Against the odds, Anaesthetics, Antenatal education, Babies, Being a mum, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Change management, Communication, Compassion, Courage, 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, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Patient care, Postnatal care, Respect, Skin to skin contact, Student Midwives, Teaching, Women's health, Women's rights, Young women

Birth imprinting – SkinToSkin contact

As a child is born to a mother there are emotional , hormonal, physical and psychological needs that are satisfied when SkinToSkin contact occurs and these will give both short and long term health benefits to mother and child .

A mother should be the first person to touch her newborn and that is one of the reasons that midwives should wear gloves. The mother’s skin will imprint the newborn with her smell, touch and love – the newborns face, smell and skin will imprint onto the mother and these are processes which are golden moments not to be missed .

If a mother is feeling unwell or anaesthetised the midwife should hold the newborn next to the mother’s skin for her , taking photographs with the mother’s phone or camera will enable the first sight of the baby to be saved and also surpass consent issues around photographs- the parents can then choose what they show to others and what they keep .

A Midwife is the woman’s and the newborn’s advocate and it’s crucial that the Midwife finds a way to involve the second parent in skin to skin contact somehow after the mother has held her newborn for a sufficient time to enable the first breastfeed .

If a woman wants to breastfeed once this has the benefit of giving colostrum as a gut protector and immuniser- colostrum contains immunoglobulin.

In cases of premature birth courage , knowledge, dexterity and skill are needed to enable skin to skin to take place . The value of collaboration (as discussed by @CharleneSTMW at a recent MatExp event at Warwick Hospitals cannot be understated – all members of the team must be aware of the benefits of SkinToSkin contact at Caesarean or instrumental birth .

We must all sing from the same sheet and share the same values so that everyone agrees that skin to skin with mother takes place before any other intervention .

Skin to skin is not an intervention it is something as natural as putting your key into your front door without thinking about it . However it seems that women and newborns are in a postcode lottery – where you live and which hospital you attend for your birth can determine and influence your chance of skin to skin .

I receive many requests from midwives from the NHS and across the world asking me to help them overcome barriers to facilitating skin to skin contact within their workplaces especially in the operating theatre . Some are stopped by anaesthetists, obstetricians , some ridiculed as strange by their colleagues and told “it’s not happening here” . We must remember that nothing is final and show the evidence which is growing by the day that skin to skin contact is not something that can be measured , it’s a primitive response which comes as second nature to a new mother – if that mother is out of her comfort zone she won’t have the strength or courage to question why – that’s OUR JOB !

Many ago I recall being told by some midwives “it won’t be happening – it’s too complicated ” and now I smile as I see midwives like @jenistevenssts in Australia studying skin to skin in the operating theatre for her PhD thesis, NICE GUIDANCE CG190 even includes SkinToSkin thanks to midwives like @drtraceyc who campaigned for its involvement and birth activist @millihill writing about it in her book (picture below)

The priceless value SkinToSkin is spreading across the world and if it’s not happening I’d like YOU to question why

This blog is dedicated to my mum Dorothy Guiney 22.2.1925 – 22.9.1978 ❤️

Being a mum, Helping others, Human kindness, Motherhood, NHS, Skin to skin contact

My wonderful mum 

On 22.9.1978 at around 6pm my dear mum died. I was 18 years old and it felt so unreal when it happened . I always imagined she’d come back to me . I still dream about her vividly and feel her presence close to me each day .

My mum was an ordinary mum , she had no airs and graces , I never heard her talk badly of anyone, she was an extremely kind soul who saw the good in everyone . My mum was always making people laugh , she was also a fabulous baker, never learnt to drive and had a great relationship with her sister Hilda who used to take her away on sisterly weekends once in a while  – my dear Auntie  Hilda outlived my mum by over 26 years and she shared many memories of their childhood with me over those years – and I treasure these stories .

I don’t ever really remember my mum shouting at me or my sisters, she taught me how to be a good person and gave me an insight into why being a good mother is so fundamental to a child’s life and how a mothers love can shape the person that we become .

Every year on on the 22nd February (my mums birthday ) and the 22nd September I celebrate her life by buying flowers and writing about her in one of my journals .

My mum gave me a good life , because we lived in a shop she was always there every morning , every afternoon when I got home from school  – I didn’t realise how lucky I was until just recently .

One thing my mum used to say to me was “if you really believe in something try to stand up for it and don’t let it it go” I see now that believing in skin to skin is not something I am ever going to let go of .

My mum gave me a firm foundation in my life – and this blog is my way of thanking her

Thank you for reading,

With love & kindness

Jenny 💛

Dedicated to my mum

Dorothy Guiney 22.2.1925 – 22.9.1978

Babies, Birth, Breastfeeding, Community, Community care, Compassion, Discharge from hospital, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, NHS, Obstetrics, Postnatal care, Skin to skin contact, Women's health, Women's rights

Lifting the lid – my life as a midwife PART ONE 

 

This blog has a few aims and I’d like to set them down before anyone panics about what’s going to be said

  • To try and encourage other midwives why it’s ok to bend the system – but only if it benefits the woman and her family
  • To inspire others to be different and think outside the box 📦
  • I’m telling my journey and not only what led me into midwifery but what keeps me there
  • I want to show the media that midwives do care about women
  • There will be no breaches of confidentiality
  • The blog is of my thoughts and feelings

My life as a midwife began in 1982. I was a student nurse and on placement on a maternity unit learning about midwifery. I was sent into a room to watch a forceps birth – this was not in an operating theatre where complex forceps births take place nowadays but in a simple birth room – I can’t recall anything apart from the woman screaming and the way the forceps were used – it marked me for life so I don’t know how the woman progressed from it . I put off any thoughts of having my own children because of the way this woman seemed to suffer. Back then I was learning about life in the NHS , how to become a patients advocate , running my dad’s newsagents , continuing with my student nurse course which was run by the nursing school attached to the hospital . I was in shock afterwards and decided then I would never be a midwife . 

Fast forwards to the birth of my beautiful daughter in 1989 . I was admitted at 0.5cm dilatation and refused permission to go home because that’s how it was then – I was given a cervical sweep without being asked or consented for it and felt violated after the event asking the midwife “what did you just do to me ?” .

“I swept and stretched your cervix , you’ll labour now” was the reply – I didn’t know what to say and I was in pain but I accepted it and just felt lost .

I did eventually give birth 22 hours after my admission and struggled with the pushing part – the consultant was called in and I recall him shouting at me how to push and threatening me with forceps if I didn’t push harder . I gave birth on my back , semi – recumbent – no-one encouraged or suggested a change of position . I was GIVEN an episiotomy without consent and cannot recall any conversation about why this was DONE to me . More or less straight after my birth I was left alone with my daughter she was in skin to skin contact with me . This wasn’t because I knew about the benefits of skin to skin contact at all , but because I just didn’t want to let Jane  go – my mums death when I was just 18 years old had impacted on me massively and I saw something in my daughter Jane’s face that reminded me of my darling mum , I was so emotional I couldn’t put Jane down – despite being encouraged to .

After the birth I developed bladder problems so had to be kept in for 5 days . I recall feelings of loneliness , sadness , especially when my partner and visitors left . There were strict visiting times in those days , no rule bending , no partners staying overnight allowed .

Once home I felt more relaxed but my partner was only given one day off work . I had no one, both my sisters were in high profile jobs and both my parents had died when I was younger . A friend came for a few hours a day and tucked me into bed with Jane , I slept whilst she tidied up , cooked and was there for me , I didn’t know what had hit me .

My community midwife Jean Duerden was amazing , I felt unwell had terrible perineal pain and couldn’t walk far – I accepted this as normal – I was a medical ward sister – I knew nothing about babies and / or petineums . My speciality was caring for men and women with medical conditions – a world apart .

My community midwife Jean realised something was wrong and I was quickly fast tracked and diagnosed with a perineal haematoma – my sutures were subcuticular and very difficult to release so I had to persevere with analgesia and antibiotics .

The visits from Jean my community midwife were the highlight of my days – she would bring a student midwife with her and we would talk about how I was feeling , the importance of rest and nutrition and emotional support . Jean also gave me brilliant Breastfeeding advice . One day I blurted out to Jean about my birth experience and she was amazing . I felt from my moments with Jean that she inspired me to become a midwife . Although my labour experience wasn’t great , my postnatal care was so different .

Almost three years later I started my midwifery training and I have to say despite the ups and downs , staff shortages , media portrayal of midwives , the difficulties I’ve gone through in my career I love being a midwife . My own experiences have shaped me and taught me to listen , act and trust women .

When I started my midwifery there were no computers – we wrote everything and risk management was very low key . I recall the Fire Officer teaching my group that the most important thing was to keep corridors clear and know which extinguisher to use in the event of a fire . This has stayed with me through my career and I get very upset when I see corridors with obstacles , I make it my mission to clear them .

I kept a diary and was so thankful to form a life long friendship on my course with another nurse called April . My tutor Anne Ivill suggested that we would get on and we are still good friends to this day . April went to work on neonatal unit as soon as she qualified and is now a health visitor working with children who have congenital illnesses and special needs . We don’t see each other as much as we should but when we do it’s like we’ve never been apart .

I’ve always been quirky and don’t like discipline or rules that restrict creativity, I was the same at school and used to get into trouble for standing up for friends who were unable to stand up for themselves . Once at high school a friend asked me to wait for her after a detention as she was scared of walking home on her own . We were barred from doing such things but I had a plan ! One of the teachers saw me on the corridor and asked what I was doing, I explained that I was waiting for Mr Heathcote to give me extra maths (a total lie).  Mr Heathcote was found and my cover was blown – I had to stay late all week and clean all the desks in T6 (one of our classrooms) . I made those desks so clean and using my anger with myself as energy to get the job done – the relief was that I didn’t get extra maths I suppose ! 😂

So how has my life affected who I am as a midwife and a woman ? The most influential part of my life was growing up in a newsagents shop , talking to people from all walks of life and respecting them all as valued customers . I worked in the shop from a very young age because I mithered my parents to let me . At first I was only “allowed” to sell newspapers or one item sales . The best day was DECIMALISATION DAY . I had learnt a lot at school about this and was determined to help in the shop but my parents said no . I was so upset – then around 7.30 my dad called me into the shop they were struggling – I was to be allowed to help ! I recall elderly people asking me “how much is that in old money ?” And I dutifully exchanged prices bank to pounds , shillings and pence to help them understand . I can recall if I was off school that day or not but if I was in school I still went in as for my parents not to send me I would’ve had to be really unwell .

So I hope you enjoyed part one of my lifting the lid blog – in part two I will be referring to my student diary and how hard it was being the only one on the midwifery cohort with a young child.

To be continued ….,..

Thank you for reading

Love , as always
Jenny x ❤️

Birth, Communication, Compassion, Helping others, Human kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, Learning, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Newborn, NHS, Skin to skin contact, Student Midwives, Women's health, Women's rights, Working from the heart

The future midwife and the midwife 

A few weeks ago I was working with Emily Leeder a student midwife who has since completed her training and has now finished her time at my trust . I really like Emily she totally gets me and my sense of humour and she has picked up some of my traits – which is strange but lovely to see – I feel that when I do retire I will leave a little bit of me within Emily’s practice .  Emily also inspired this blog CLICK HERE TO READ about the importance of appropriate touch in midwifery . 

We both saw the positive effect of a small glass of a well known energy drink (NOT Redbull!) made flat by stirring profusely and how women who hadn’t eaten in labour felt better after it . We christened it our ‘chemistry set recipe’ for an energy boost in labour .

When we worked together we automatically shared roles and I think that neither of us felt controlled or ruled by the other – we were there for the women and supported them but we were in harmony as future midwife and midwife . Emily taught me the true meaning of mentorship as she messaged me for support and also wrote me lovely feedback for my revalidation.  I gelled with her and never felt judged by her or unable to ask if she knew something I didn’t . 

A few weeks ago we were with a woman who was at the start of her journey to becoming a mother . With this wonderful woman was her partner and her mum . We were having a discussion about skin to skin and delayed cord clamping and I asked the woman’s mum if she had experienced skin to skin contact at birth  with her children. The mum said “not really , my baby was born then weighed , measured and checked by another midwife , whilst the birth midwife was helping me to birth my placenta and check if I needed stitches – which I didn’t – so then I was told to have a shower . Within half an hour I was transferred to the postnatal ward ” 

My reply was off the cuff and I didn’t realise how funny it was until Emily had to leave the room crying in laugher . 

I said “a shower ? You gave up skin to skin contact because someone told you to have a shower ?! We are mammals – imagine other mammals giving birth and being forced to wash within an hour of birth . In fact right here right now let’s just imagine an elephant giving birth to a baby elephant cub and one of the female elephants shouting out ‘Get into that river now & wash !’ It just wouldn’t happen would it – no one would argue with a newly birthed elephant mum would they ? ” 

It really doesn’t seem as funny now but it’s left a great memory for me , Emily and the family – and the woman gave birth and did NOT get pushed into the shower at all . In fact she chose to have a wash a bout three hours later , after LOTS of skin to skin with her newborn ❤️
Thank you Emily for helping me with my journey as a mentor – I’m always learning and I wish you well at your new NHS trust – keep in touch 

This is my first ever scheduled blog and it’s for three reasons 

1. Today will be the third anniversary of the day I started presenting to raise awareness of skin to skin contact – you can read the storify of the day HERE or just search #MAMMevent on Twitter 

2. I will be presenting at Coventry midwifery Society today the # will be #CovBF17 

3. To thank Sheena Byrom OBE for believing in me as a public speaker and also for friendship and kindness when life was tough for me . 

I am proud to be a midwife 
Love from Jenny xx 😘