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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 ❤️

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thank you for reading

Yours in love and light ,

Jenny ❤️

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 ❤️

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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 😘 

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 ….. 

Birth, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, New parents, Newborn, NHS, Night shifts in the NHS, Obstetrics, Patient care, Postnatal care, Psychology, Student Midwives, Women's health

How to keep your ‘Midwifery Passion’

Ideas to help midwives through NIGHT SHIFTS the past couple of weeks I’ve been on night shifts – hence my temporary disappearance from Twitter . I have been forced to practice self-care and be mindful of my own health and wellbeing in order to not only survive night shifts but also to ensure the women in my care were kept safe. A huge part of my role  is to support women and families and also to be a team player by helping and listening to my colleagues of all disciplines. Factor into this the additional pressure like teaching my body to sleep in the day and stay up all night – all this has an adverse effect on causes on my hormones and body  physiology – so it must be the same for any midwife working the night shift.

 I try my best to visit women who may still be on the postnatal ward (ones that I have cared for in labour or met antenatally) to offer a debriefing session and go through parts of the birth they may have forgotten- I find this helps me as much as it helps them . Women become tired during long nights of labour and may forget their own strength during labour and birth so I like to remind them. As midwives we must make a firm relationship foundation with the woman and her birth partner(s) and we must also display  love for our job and show it’s something we do because we enjoy it not because we have to – when did you last show that you love your job?  Women want to know that you care about them and getting food and drink in the middle of the night is a real challenge but I take it firmly onboard . I scour the fridges for left over unopened  in date sandwiches- dash to the vending machine to buy a packet of fruit pastilles or a small bar of chocolate , offer my pre-packed fruit salad, make toast and encourage food in labour – women use on average 150 kcal an hour in labour and it’s important to explain why you are encouraging eating .  Women don’t want to face a labour with a midwife who hasn’t slept or who is complaining about being at work . My philosophy the past two weeks has been to

  • Get some sunlight every day before bed
  • Eat a meal before work that will sustain me through the night – a balance of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables
  • Laugh with colleagues – I am quite well known ay work for my gangnam style dance so one night I was on the postnatal ward I danced in the office – the future midwives face was picture !!
  • Understand why I may have bouts of moodiness
  • Speak to a friend every other day
  • Walk my dog pre-bed and pre-work to ensure I am getting exercise and fresh air
  • Reduce my screen time – that includes Google and Twitter – I am on screen time at work with the maternity system online and screen time can affect our circadian rhythm.

Don’t underestimate how hard it is for me to get in from work and drive to the beach – I struggle, but I have noticed a definite change in myself during these nights and I am sure its because I have exercised prior to sleeping . I have also used some aromatherapy and mindfulness (which I do every single day – nights or days )

I prepared my fridge – chicken , vegetables , pre-packed fruit portions , cheese for protein in the night , and faced my dislike of drinking water . I googled jet-lag and circadian rhythm to help me face up to how my body might react and went in for the positive approach . I took the decision to walk on the beach with my Labrador puppy Buddie post each shift and eat my favourite breakfast sat outside my favourite cafe before I went to sleep. These positive  activities helped me to switch off from my shift , gave me a sense of wellbeing and also helped me to interact with others before I became a hermit for the day . Once home in bed, all curtains were closed and all lights switched off – as a visual hint to ‘popper inners’ those friends of mine who I adore as they pop in to visit me unannounced and I do love that but not on night shifts. I also prayed that my neighbours would be quiet and that their dog wouldn’t bark too much – it worked !!

Night shifts are special for midwives , the hustle and bustle of the hospital is turned down , the ward round is vanquished, the tea trolley is ever present and I can drink tea in the birth room with the families .

After night shifts it’s ok to feel tired and nap in the day – listen to your body carefully . Take time to recover post nights – don’t push your body beyond its limits thinking you are doing it a favour – you aren’t !

I’d like to dedicate this blog to all the midwives who work night shifts – and especially Olivia and Jude as they often discuss the effects of nights with me –  thank you to all NHS nightworkers  for all you do .

Further reading and resources 

information on The BODY CLOCK 

What is sleep drive ? Sleep drive and your body clock

Try a few of my ideas and see if they help your night shifts – I hope they do .

With kindness & midwifery love ❤️

Your friend Jenny

XxX