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#BirthLeadership ©️ is Born

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

#BirthLeadership ©️

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women need to know we care ❤️

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

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

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

Here are a few Birth Leadership examples

SkinToSkin in the operating theatre

Not weighing a baby until after it’s first feed

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

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

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

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

Supporting a woman compassionately through a difficult birth

Helping a woman to avoid unnecessary internal examinations

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

Holding a woman’s hand in an emergency situation

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

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

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

Thank you for reading

Yours in Birth leadership love

Jenny ❤️

PS

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

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

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

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The birth of my son

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

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

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

Off I went on my merry way .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy birthday son ❤️.

Thank you all for reading.

With love

❤️Jenny ❤️

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 ❤️

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Newborn babies – photographed without their parents – my bugbear

Everyone who knows me knows that I promote , research and present about SkinToSkin contact . I know exactly why it matters to mothers , fathers and babies .

Just recently I’ve noticed an advert for an upcoming ITV series “Delivering Babies ” in which Emma Willis stars as a auxiliary nurse assisting on a maternity unit – the profile photo shows a picture of Emma holding someone else’s baby without any of the parents in the photograph – this is what prompted me to write this blog .

One particular bugbear I have is seeing a baby on a photograph with a health care professional without the mother or father being included in the picture .

I have discussed this with many future and new parents and explained that they are the guardians of the newborn – protecting it from unnecessary exposure to anything . At most schools there is a social media policy which prevents the posting of children on social media sites . However the same rules don’t seem to apply for newborn babies.

I see many programmes about pregnancy, labour , birth and the postnatal on TV which I choose to critique. Some I have given up watching through exasperation that the baby is not seem as a child of someone .

I have had heated debates with maternity managers , future midwives , midwives , maternity support workers about why a baby should not be photographed without any of its parents . I ask them this question “if you had a baby would you want it’s photo to be on someone else’s social media account , mobile phone or perhaps even framed on a sideboard in someone else’s home that’s not even related to you ?”

Just google “Midwife” and numerous photos will pop up of midwives holding someone else’s baby . There’s even one from Call The Midwife – time to rethink why these photos exist and consider the human rights of the newborn ?

Below are two collages I made following a google search – who are these babies and were the parents asked for full consent and counselled thoroughly about the fact that their babies would appear on internet searches ?

My other concern is WHO takes the photo ? If it’s on the parents phone and given to the midwife as a gift does that make it ok . What is consent ? Eg “could I have consent to use this photograph of me holding your baby to post on social media / put into a frame at home , look back on and wonder who that baby belonged to in 20 years time ” OR “could I have a photo of you as a family with me in the background which I will treasure and treat with respect , I will not post it on social media and it will remain a midwifery memory for me of meeting you ?”

In taking photos we must consider

Is it necessary ?

Please leave your comments below

Yours in midwifery love

@JennyTheM