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 😘 

Anaesthetics, Antenatal education, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Change management, Communication, Compassion, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Human rights, Intra-operative care, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, NHS, Nursing, Obstetrics, Paediatrics, Patient care, Respect, Skin to skin contact

The operating theatre tea party – read on to find out more 

This week I was lucky enough to be in the multi-disciplinary team involved in the care of women pre peri and post – Caesarean section . 

Lucky you say ? Aren’t midwives supposed to only be focused on PHYSIOLOGICAL  birth ? well yes that’s one of our roles but we also care for women in the antenatal period – we run triage clinics with the fab support of a skilled maternity support worker – running tests on women then contacting the Dr for advice with the results – pure team work . We also care for women in labour who have complex medical needs , complex mental health issues and we work WITH the obstetric team to find the best plan of care – we do this together with the woman’s input . I am proud of everyone I work with – they give me hope . We also work on birth centres and attend pool births . We are community midwives we attend home births , we support women who have safeguarding issues , women who live under the threat of Domestic violence and women who have disabilities. We manage wards , units , we are heads of midwifery , we are ward midwives , labour ward midwives , specialist midwives  and we are mothers , fathers ,single women/men  , gay women/men  , straight women/men  , married men/women , we are spinsters / bachelors but most of all we are HUMAN BEINGS .  

Each birth I see means a lot to me as a woman, a midwife and a human . I don’t judge a woman because she has a more complex or simple birth than the births I had – I’m in MIDWIFERY because I want women to feel positive about their birth experience and EVEN after this weeks news I am still determined to try my best to promote physiology in all birth settings . 

Anyway back to the operating theatre . 

The team in the operating theatre where I work are so together with the families they meet . They all know the importance of #SkinToSkin contact and how utterly important it is for the woman involved to hold her newborn asap . So the ODP makes sure that the woman tucks one sleeve of her theatre gown under her arm , places the ECG electrodes on the woman’s back and adds a mini – extension to the top of the theatre table so as to give the woman a greater sense of space to hold her newborn . The scrub nurse prepares a sterile space on the cot for the obstetrician to place the baby onto AFTER delayed cord clamping has taken place . The baby is dried on the theatre table and then placed on a sterile sheet on a cot with wheels – the Midwife assesses the baby’s condition at the side of the parents – so they feel involved and the baby is not weighed – we aim for skin to skin contact prior to 5 minutes of age – unless there are concerns with the baby’s health – both parents see the baby immediately and one of them cuts the cord . The other parent is then helped with placing the newborn on the mothers upper chest safely in a prone position and the midwife STAYS next to the woman and her newborn supporting them so that skin to skin can continue for as long as possible , I have piloted this and women who are supported hold their babies for longer – so I leave my records until we go into recovery area . Photographs are encouraged (as many as the family want to take) and also music . This week we asked a woman which music she’d like – we don’t yet have a Bluetooth speaker in  theatre just yet (watch this space)  so I put my phone on as Coldplay was requested . The consultant anaesthetist (Dr Richard Cross ) left the senior registrar in anaesthetics in charge whilst he was away for two minutes . When he returned he was holding a metal NHS supply teapot – we all looked puzzled 😕 . Then he carefully placed my phone into the empty teapot – this acted like a mini speaker and it was just the right volume for the family – but not too loud to disturb the surgeons and the safety in the theatre . 

What I’m trying to say is that this kind gesture was all for the family – especially the woman – we were making memories for her – she’ll always remember that she held her newborn , whilst listening to Coldplay from a teapot – what could be better than that 

Once safely in recovery (transfer to recovery area takes place with skin to skin ongoing ) we encourage birthcrawl by the newborn and praise the infants behaviour as this helps with the maternal connection . The woman is offered water quite soon after (unless she has had a general anaesthetic- in which case we wait until she is safe to tolerate water ) and then a cup of tea ( two half cups so none has the potential to spill onto the newborn ) and some toast which helps with enhanced recovery – we try to take our time with being in recovery as the woman needs more time to bond with her child due to restrictions on movement due to theatre drapes & position . 

Thank you Richard Cross and all the team in theatre for your kindness , laughter , compassion and care 
I hope you enjoyed reading this latest blog 

P.S what I didn’t mention was that there was a language barrier , but kindness , compassion and communication still took place – and the music connected us all ❤️

Happy Saturday -with love  Jenny xx 

Against the odds, Anaesthetics, Antenatal education, Babies, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Change management, Children, Compassion, Courage, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Human rights, Intra-operative care, Kindness, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, MatExp, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Obstetrics, Paediatrics, Patient care, Postnatal care, Respect, Skin to skin contact, Student Midwives, Teaching, Women's health, Women's rights, Working from the heart

The Caesarean experience 

How good is the approach to women who have a caesarean to birth their babies ? Do all NHS trusts routinely give the same care to each woman and newborn or is it tailored to each individual ? 

I am passionate that the caesarean procedure is also a positive uplifting experience for the woman her partner and their newborn . 

I get upset when I hear stories from different midwives at various NHS Trusts that skin to skin contact at Caesarean section isn’t routine or perhaps not discussed antenatally . From today I’m championing that skin to skin contact should be a priority for ALL WOMEN AND BABIES in the operating theatre and I’m doing this for several groups of women including those who

1. Were totally unaware that  skin to skin contact at caesarean was possible . 

2. Hear stories of women who held their baby skin to skin perioperatively when own their babies are older and they missed out on it which leaves them feeling robbed and upset. 

3. See photographs of babies in skin to skin contact during caesarean and they didn’t know they could take photographs 

4. Realised that skin to skin is possible but they weren’t given the choice 

5. Feel sad that the baby’s other parent wasn’t encouraged to hold their baby skin to skin during the caesarean operation . 

And this blog post is also for any woman who has an assisted birth in an operating theatre – I’m going to help you challenge NHS systems and change the birth discrimination between normal birth and birth in theatre . 

Why am I calling this BIRTH DISCRIMINATION

In my opinion every woman who gives birth should have the chance to hold her newborn in skin to skin contact even if only for a few minutes perhaps because the newborn requires transfer to neonatal unit or the woman feels unwell peri-operatively . 

Women who have a normal vaginal birth are more likely to hold their newborn for longer and separation from their newborns during the ‘golden skin to skin  hour’ will be less likely to happen. However, if a child is born in the operating theatre separation will occur within half an hour because of risk assessments meaning that the baby is moved as well as that within some NHS Trusts phones or cameras are not allowed in theatre and here are my thoughts on this matter which is close to my heart . 
We can no longer ignore the birth discrimination that exists between normal birth – where the woman has prolonged uninterrupted skin to skin contact – and assisted birth . It’s the role of everyone who is involved with birth in the operating theatre to work together to reduce and / or eliminate this birth discrimination.  I’m talking about midwives , anaesthetists , paediatricians , obstetricians , neonatal nurses , ODPs , maternity support workers coming together to form multi-disciplinary teams to plan how skin to skin contact length and opportunity can me maximised and separation minimised . 

We are all aware that skin to skin contact is beneficial in numerous evidence based ways (just go onto google scholar and search “skin to skin contact at birth”  to both mother and baby. It is NOW time to take action and assess each woman and baby individually instead of adhering to a ‘one size fits all’ approach . Of course there are women who may have to have a general anaesthetic – so consider this from the baby’s point of view – and work out a way that the other parent might be able to provide skin to skin for the newborn . 

We are in 2017 and now is the time to make change happen – talk about this to your MSLCs , the labour ward forum meetings , MDT meetings and be pro-active – together we can all make a difference 

Thank you for reading – jenny ❤️

To be continued ….. 

Babies, Birth, Breastfeeding, Caesarean section, Children, Compassion, Giving information, Helping others, Hospital, Human kindness, Kindness, Labour and birth, Learning, MatExp, Midwifery, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, Newborn attachment, NHS, Obstetrics, Patient care, Skin to skin contact, Women's health, Women's rights, Young mothers, Young women

The baby’s here – NOW what ? 

You have just given birth – it’s your first child and I’m not sure whether you had a Caesarean birth or a forceps birth or your newborn arrived in a birth pool . What really matters is that you receive consistent, evidence based advice from the health care professionals you come into contact with and positive support from your family and friends –  you’ll be exhausted and must try not to rush yourself back to normality too soon – try installing a mindfulness app into your phone and ALLOW your friends to do your shopping/ ironing / take some laundry off your hands . Don’t be too proud to admit tiredness , worry and emotions .

Take a good look at the #MatExp website and join the Facebook page for access to health care professionals , peer supporters and other new parents – ask questions and interact with others so you can gain knowledge and know when to recognise that things might not be quite right .

The biggest thing to hit you right between the eyes is the responsibility of parenthood including how to cope with reduced amounts of sleep , hormone imbalances , post birth bleeding , the increase in laundry (which seems so huge for such a tiny person and more than double with twins !) and how to deal with unexpected visitors who always seem to turn up when it’s nap time . Who said babies sleep all day ?

Well here is my blog to try and help you to make some sense of your early days

Humans have been parenting for thousands of years , babies communicate through crying and facial expressions and you have an inbuilt mechanism that is made to help you to nurture your young . Keep on keeping on with skin to skin contact as new evidence shows that mothers who give their babies plenty of skin to skin contact are more responsive parents . Picking up your baby each time he or she cries is not spoiling the child – HERE IS A LINK TO EXPLAIN WHY A BABY DEVELOPS BETTER WHEN HE SHE IS PICKED UP MORE. UNICEF have lots of evidence based resources and this is a wonderful PDF document UNICEF leaflet on building a happier baby – we are in fact building humans – kindness and compassion towards our young helps the brain take in more information and this in turn reinforces to the child that kindness matters , so he she grows up to be more aware of her / his own feelings and the feelings of others .

Trying to sift thought all the postnatal advice leaflets and decide which friend / in-law , relative has the best advice on getting your baby to sleep is just overwhelming .

First of all don’t push yourself too much to get through one week unscathed – it’s better and more realistic to try and get through a couple of hours feeling positive about what you’ve achieved. Take regular pain relief to help your mobility and well-being and don’t scrimp on rest – did you know that skin to skin contact reduces pain in mother AND newborn?

Let’s move onto  the key things your baby needs to grow and develop as well as feeling nurtured
1.Love which includes feeling nurtured and receiving kindness . Love also means giving yourself kindness and listening to your own mind and body .A baby knows from the tone of your voice whether you are happy and feeling loving towards it – so try hard to keep love in your heart . If you are not feeling this way seek some advice – your love might come later , or you may just be exhausted . If you feel unwell , emotionally drained , or just flat talk to your midwife and let her know – she’s not their to judge you but to signpost you to the correct services available . Do not berate yourself if you are suffering from post-natal depression and/or anxiety – we live in a modern world that doesn’t seem to support the value of resting , being still and calmness – digital advances seem to put more and more pressure on us humans to try and prove we are beyond human – the modern woman  is the equivalent of a plate spinner – don’t take on too many committtments – try practising some self-care and slow down – your body and mind  need rest and stillness as much as they need love , nourishment , kindness and compassion . Here is a wonderful blog about a mother who realised she was shouting too much and was too distracted by others things that led to a kind of moodiness towards her children CLICK HERE TO READ

2. Feeding your newborn is not just about giving a baby milk – the way a baby is held during a feed , the way a mother talks to her newborn and keeping the number of people who give the feed to a minimum has a more positive impact on the baby’s developing brain. I hear many women say “I’m not going to breastfeed as my family want to help me with bottle feeding”.

The first feed of colostrum is a crucial power food to help the newborn to  begin its journey of life. Obesity is a now a public health problem and it’s time to address the low numbers of babies that are breastfed – if a baby maintains skin to skin contact with its mother at birth for over two hours – there is an increase in breastfeeding success – we are talking about not moving baby at all for any reasons including during Caesarean section, perineal sutures, returning to theatre for any reason and always considering SkinToSkin contact.

The postnatal period should include regular prolonged episodes of skin to skin contact to soothe babies , maintain the all important bond with the parents and help milk production . Breastfeeding helps babies to …

1.Recover from birth

2. Feel safe and nurtured

3.protect the immature gut and bowel by receiving immunity from the mother via her bespoke breast milk .

4.feel comforted – because a baby that breastfeeds must be held close and that situation is very comforting to a newborn

The one to “oneness” that #SkinToSkin and breastfeeding gives a newborn is actually is not something that can be replicated in another form – it’s a one off that’s been passed down the centuries , a primitive response that goes back in time to when we lived in caves and our mothers held us close away from other predators . It’s much more grounding for a newborn to feel close to less people and as it gets older you can widen the circle very gradually. SkinToSkin during breastfeeding gives the baby a strong sense of belonging . There are also responsive bottle feeding methods . The SLING LIBRARY offers information about slings across the U.K. click HERE for the website and slings give freedom to do other things whilst carrying your newborn hands free : )

A baby should never be fed without being held – being held during a feed is soothing and promotes a sense of safety & emotional security . Talking , singing and smiling during feeds with intense eye to eye contact is of paramount importance for a newborn’s brain development .

3. Warmth – so important that a baby feels comfortably warm not overheated and is unable to move down under its blankets – the baby’s position should always always be on the back . The “Back to sleep ” campaign was started by Anne Diamond . Click HERE for more information about how Ann spread the word after the death of her beloved son Sebastian died from Cot death at only four months of age. It is now advised that babies are put on their BACKS to sleep and also that they sleep in their parent/s room until after the age of 6 months old . The media in general doesn’t give out evidence based advice and seems to berate parents who choose to co-sleep . Co-sleeping is something that must be discussed and Durham University has a sleep laboratory which has looked at how and why mothers co-sleep with their offspring – Click here for evidence and sound advice about babies sleep . Professor Helen Ball has filmed parents in sleep situations to help us to learn what’s safe and what’s not . The problem with the media is that by criticising co-sleeping they are actually promoting sofa sharing and feeding which is a dangerous practice . Click  HERE for an honest upfront article by the fabulous Milli Hill parenting and birth guru about co-sleeping.

Your house is the environment your child will see as their safe place – so don’t try to change it too much as a temporary measure – keep it as your home to welcome your newborn . You can adapt areas as your child grows and develops . Try keeping changing equipment in two different areas so you don’t have to go to one room all the time .

Let your bedroom be your safe haven where you can escape with your baby to feed , rest and avoid the “popper inners” the visitors who simply turn up unannounced .

Try not to plan too many trips out too soon or those that require a long drive – as mothers soon get tired in the initial few months . A change of scenery is good though and can be a welcome escape from the house . Don’t be talked into your newborn going for a sleepover too soon – when it does happen you may  find yourself unable to relax until you hold your baby again . The other parent can walk the baby whilst mum rests (that doesn’t mean cleaning etc!!) and it’s a good thing to try and learn how to sleep in the day – even though it’s against everything you are accustomed to as a new parent you are  in fact a shift worker so must try and care for yourself or you will become burnt out , exhausted and this could lead to anxiety and / or depression and this applies to BOTH parents.

What about Dads ? Well I love social media and I found this great tool called TheDadPad which is £8.75 supported by the NHS and basically a set of information pads that are wipe clean and give good advice on caring for your newborn as a new dad .

Same sex couples also need support – just because a baby has two mummies doesn’t mean that life is all hunky dory – all parents need to know they are doing ok .

Isolation , poverty and lack of friends can affect parenting- but believe me , not having the latest pram or changing bag does not make you less of a parent . Health visitors are skilled at knowing where there is safe second hand baby equipment which is a lot less expensive – always google the product so that any warnings regarding safety are found before you commit yourselves to it – second hand equipment must come with full instructions and explanations as well as safety recommendations on how NOT to use .

If you feel unwell at anytime in the first 6-8 your lifeline contact is with your local delivery suite . Here waiting isn’t long and you get to talk to a midwife one to one and discuss your symptoms . The problem with going to A & E is that they aren’t designed for mothers and/or newborns and they hold a lot of unwell people . If you have any pains or swellings in your legs / chest pain / fast heart beat / your bleeding heavily / your bleeding has an odour / you are hot and cold please do not delay as any of these symptoms could be a venous thrombosis or signs of sepsis – getting to the Women’s unit faster means quicker diagnosis and treatment . Read about sepsis in more detail HERE on the Sepsis Trust website where you can read about symptoms of sepsis clear concise information.

Refer to your postnatal notes for yourself and your baby for clear advice on minor postnatal symptoms as well as why you may feel unwell – but more importantly talk to health care workers who will give you consistent advice about coping with a newborn . Don’t be fooled by perfect photos – underneath it all most new parents struggle with their lack of sleep .

Try to get out during the day even if it’s just visiting a family member or friend at a house . Being isolated is not a good feeling and can be detrimental not only to your own mental and physical health but also the newborn’s ability to socially connect and brain growth .

In this modern world it’s important to switch off digital devices and talk to babies – if you find this hard reading a book or singing songs is a positive way of communicating.
Keep a mini journal of your days when you felt tired out and see if you are feeling less or more tired as the weeks go by . If you are feeling more tired look at what kind of activity you missed out on OR overdid . Did you eat well ? Rest ? See friends ? Spend any time in skin to skin with your newborn ?

I’ve written this blog so you can try to find information that’s sensible and not prescriptive and I hope you find it useful . If it’s any consolation I was totally exhausted for months and I developed post-natal depression which wasn’t really talked about much in the 80s. I even left my daughter in her pram outside the local post office , not realising until I had say down with a well deserved cup of tea – needless to say I ran back for her and never did that again !! So you see if I can admit to that , what do you think other new mum’s have got up to ?

Becoming a parent is lovely but it is not as perfect as it’s made out to be. Best beginnings have launched a series of films called “Out of the blue” and CLICKHERE for a link to a film on how new mothers can learn to look after themselves . If parents take good care of themselves they will be more likely to care for their children well and be positive role models .

I hope my blog inspires you all on the start of your journey as parents and I wish you and your newborn love , kindness and understanding ❤️<<<<
gt;

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

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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&nbsp;

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/&nbsp;

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

Babies, Birth, Care of the elderly, Community, Courage, Discharge from hospital, Discharge planning, Human rights, Kindness, Learning, Newborn, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Nursing, Patient care, Skin to skin contact, Teaching

Processes within the NHS 

There is a phrase “going around” that takes the impact of what it’s like to be an elderly person without support and this derogatory term totally dehumanises a very human situation. Talking about humans as processes instead of shouting out loud that caring does not start and begin in a hospital is like saying that once a person reaches 70 nobody really cares about them. The roots of care, compassion and indeed humanity itself  are intertwined into community , family life and neighbourhoods. Love and care begin at birth when the impact of instinctual kindness and love from one’s own mother is portrayed immediately at the moment of arrival by her display of emotions, indescribable craving and total need to hold her newborn child. It is my quest that every midwife, obstetrician and in fact anyone who is privileged to be there when a child is born knows this and thinks about it every second before birth occurs and is instrumental I helping to facilitate it or shout out when it doesn’t seem to be . 

NOW I’d like you to imagine that you are a senior NHS manager questioning your clinical leaders about how to address the problem of  “bed blockers” you are driven and you don’t tolerate excuses . Suddenly fast forward your own life – you are 79 years old and living alone . Your family live just far enough away from you to prevent a daily visit . You are isolated and feel depressed so gradually without any realisation of it , you stop looking after yourself . Your home becomes as uncared for as you are and then you fall . The reason for your fall is that you didn’t like the new slippers your granddaughter bought you for Christmas they were too much like shoes. You therefore continue to wear your old worn ones and on this particular day as you descend your steep unsafe-for-a-79-year-old stairs, your slippers “tread free” soles slip on the edge of a stair – suddenly you’re in flight mode. Your hip dislocates and your femur breaks – time to realise after your operation and recovery in a rehabilitation centre that you can’t get home. Mainly due to the fact that your family are away for a few days in France and social services have deemed your house as unfit for you to move back into . One particular day you are “sat out” in a chair behind some curtains and you overhear a Dr and an occupational therapist talking – your name is used and that familiar term “bed blocker” Is mentioned. The words ring in your ears from when you used to say them about others and now you are one. 

Did you know  when ambulance crews take patients to accident and emergency that they have to wait and cannot leave their charge until the care is taken over by the hospital team. I know this because last year  I worked with an ambulance team for a day . We were transferring a woman to another hospital & I was the escort midwife – once in another zone the ambulance was recognised on the radar and unable to leave each time a 999 call was made . It was like being in another galaxy unable to return to our own a sort of NHS antithesis to Brigadoon. So if SEVEN ambulance crews arrive at a particular Accident and Emergency department all waiting to handover the care of their patients -SEVEN ambulances are simultaneously  off the road-what’s to be done about this?

A few months ago I realised I was digressing from my ” #skinToSkin” work and asked a friend what I should do . Political issues were starting to interest me more , I felt more aware of care for people living with dementia . I had started reading about how mental  health issues are addressed and pigeon holed. Nick Chinn taught me about silos and I realised that the NHS works in silos. My friends reply was “keep going Jenny – as a NHS Midwife you have a duty to be political so that you can tell others about the day you spent with the ambulance  crew, why skin to skin matters to society and is a public health issue . To be frank I’d be more worried if you said you felt apolitical” 

So my friends let’s keep going and let’s keep championing good care , outing systems that don’t put the patient and/or family at the heart of what we do – one day that “bed blocker” might just be you . 

Thank you for reading please feel free to leave comments – your input helps me to reflect and develop as a midwife , mother and human . 

❤️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 ❤️