Antenatal education, Babies, Being a mum, Birth, Children, Compassion, Hospital, Human rights, Labour , birth, Labour and birth, Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, Motherhood, New parents, Newborn, NHS, Postnatal care, Respect, Skin to skin contact, soeaking out, Student Midwives, Women's rights, Young mothers, Young women, zero separation

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


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 ❤️

Midwife, Midwifery, Midwifery and birth, NHS, NHS Systems and processes, Nursing

Happy 70th Birthday NHS: and to all who work in it – go eat cake 🎂 . A blog by Val Finigan


Happy 70th Birthday NHS:and to all who work in it-go eat cake 🎂
A beautiful blog by @ValFinigan

I can’t believe that the NHS has reached a 70 year milestone and that I have been part of this amazing service for 40 years. I saw the twitter feed asking for midwives to write a Blog to celebrate the NHS and its achievements over the years and I decided that I would like to be a part of this. Of course, I am not a Blog person and so I sought expert help from the lovely @JennyTheM who always like me, says yes (so hugs Jenny and remember “together, we always achieve”). I have been proud to work in the NHS, to wear my Consultant Midwife’s lanyard with pride. Indeed, I am immensely proud of the NHS Constitution and values and of NHS staff commitment to deliver a quality service regardless of demands made on them.
My career in the NHS started in 1978 when I became an Auxiliary Nurse caring for the elderly and my full time service almost ended in 2017 when I retired from position of Consultant Midwife for infant feeding. It has been an amazing journey and a privilege to be part of so many people’s lives, helping women to bring babies into the world and at the other end of life –supporting with compassion and care, those who are leaving.
I have worked in many different roles and positions which I feel empowered me, enabling me to understand everyone’s role and the part they play in the NHS as a whole. Sadly, I am not sure that all senior people have this same journey or focus and not everyone is aware of individual roles and how collectively they underpin NHS effectiveness and efficiency. T

This is important as the large wheel will not turn without all of the little cogs functioning. and that is why all NHS staff must be supported, be valued and be cared for must

This is important as the large wheel will not turn without all of the little cogs functioning and that is why all NHS staff must be supported, be valued and be cared for as in the NMC code ( CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE NMC CODE    )


To achieve this, you must:
8.1 respect the skills, expertise and contributions of your colleagues, referring matters to them when appropriate
8.2 maintain effective communication with colleagues
8.4 work with colleagues to evaluate the quality of your work and that of the team
8.5 work with colleagues to preserve the safety of those receiving care
8.6 share information to identify and reduce risk, and
8.7 be supportive of colleagues who are encountering health or performance problems. However, this support must never compromise or be at the expense of patient or public safety.
I look back with emotional pride; I remember the first time that I lovingly ironed my uniform and then proudly placed the nurse’s cap on my head. I was in Utopia and I had achieved my dream. My parents had saved to buy me a fob watch engraved with my name and a silver buckle and belt and I still have them today.
I was fortunate enough to be given many opportunities to develop. I became an Enrolled nurse in 1978 and worked in paediatrics and infectious diseases. When Project 2000 came in, I re-trained to become a RGN and worked as a staff nurse on cleft lip and palate and also within general nursing roles.
I didn’t understand the political aspects that have driven my career pathways until much later when I entered the world of academia at University of Salford and considered this. Like most nurses and midwives’ my time in the NHS has involved life-long learning and development. Here I went from the Langley dunce to a BA (Hons) and then to a PhD achiever. Now who would have believed that I could have achieved that?
I qualified as a midwife almost 30 years ago and then specialised, becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, taking 4 hospitals to UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation and sharing research globally on women’s experiences of immediate skin-to-skin contact from diverse population groups. We celebrated our teams’ achievements in style, with Elle McPherson presenting the award and talking to mothers and cuddling babies.
The emotional context of midwifery is fundamental, midwives need to have emotional awareness in order to deliver care sensitively, and also be able to acknowledge and respond to women’s feelings. Elle McPherson could have been a midwife; I was impressed at her sensitivity and respectful stance on women’s rights to best care. It was impressive to see her give her bouquet of flowers, a hug and a tear shed when a local Asian mother (who had delivered her baby prematurely) was separated from it whilst it received neonatal care.
I helped to care for the first HIV positive patient admitted to Monsall Hospital, Manchester in the 80s(which has now been demolished) and I trained to care for patients that had Lassa fever which was quite a scary thing to do back then and involved caring for the patient in a sealed unit-a bubble.
In my later days (once I had grown a brain) I helped the Manchester HIV team develop the first guidelines to support breastfeeding for HIV positive women and I held the first motion for this at the CHIVA conference in Manchester (which was very frightening as many renowned HIV experts were present). Sometimes we have to be brave (‘Courage butter’, JennyTheM, would say) without courage change will never happen-someone has to be brave enough to take the first step and ask “can we”, “should we”, “what is the evidence for and against”, “how do we start this journey together”, “will this make a difference?” Better Births and the Midwifery Transformation agenda are the new movement where midwives and the government are considering change-change that will fundamentally , hopefully, put women at the centre of ‘personalised care’.
I have seen so many changes come and go in the NHS 70 years ;often to be replaced with similar changes –just with a different name (‘Changing Childbirth’ to ‘Better Births’, being the latest example). Yet I also have proudly witnessed the compassion, care and tireless commitment to the NHS given by midwives and nurses who continue to deliver the best care whilst being under immense pressures and challenges. There is a lack of funding and still we are 3500 midwives short across the UK.
Sadly I have also seen many experienced and talented nurses and midwives leave a service they truly love because they can no longer function well under the pressures of systems.
When I first retired from the NHS, I was adrift. I was shocked at the overwhelming loss I felt and sadly there was nowhere to turn for support. I was angry at myself, all that training, learning and now both it, and I had no value. The problem with being a midwife is that once you take on the role it becomes you, not a part of you.
Thankfully, my story does not end there. Now I am looking back through a different lens and with a rush of positivity embracing my soul. I am back, resilient like our NHS, doing what I was trained to do, and what I do best; serving the public, caring and providing support. The NHS is a UK flagship-I have no doubt it will continue, the scary bit-is what changes have to happen next to allow this.
I now work in the Urgent Care services where I continue to use my nursing and midwifery knowledge and skills wisely. I am working with and alongside of women, babies and families, providing evidence based care and advice in pregnancy, motherhood and for infant feeding and also for a wide variety of other illnesses; and for people of all ages. The hours are flexible and therefore offer a work –home live balance that evaded me in my full time role. In this service I am valued and my talents are fully utilised.
Happy birthday NHS and congratulations to the hard working workforce (cleaner to Chief Executive) that make those tiny cogs turn to deliver such a fantastic service.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog . with love ,



Compliance and the art of compassionate rebelliousness 

As humans we are encouraged to comply from the moment we are born . We are weighed , a hat is placed on our head. The media, tradition, education , culture, peers, history and many more all  step into our tiny lives on a huge platform telling us we must not be different 

We hear statements like this every day 

“Does your baby sleep well? ”

“My baby rolls over now does yours? ”

“Are you STILL breastfeeding ?”

“Don’t touch the beautiful fossil on display that was formed millions of years ago – you might break it!!”

“Do your homework” often heard said by parents to 5 years old children 

“Pass you exams and you’ll do well”

“Don’t argue back” 

“Don’t touch , play nice , keep clean , stop asking ‘why?’, sit still, don’t question , clean your room , you’re too quiet , you’re too outspoken , pay your council tax, keep your home clean , revise , work hard , don’t take your dog on the beach , don’t sit on the grass , do not be selfish , speak when you are spoken to , take your medicines ”

I’m not for one minute suggesting that we all dash out and start parking on yellow lines and refuse to pay bills . What I’m trying to say is do we teach our children the art of non-compliance ? Do we actively seek to help them see that it’s ok to say no to to certain things in our life and to put our own selves first ? Do we understand that self care should be 80/ 20 ? 80 for ourselves 20 to others ?Do we encourage that it’s ok to have a different mindset ? 

Now imagine the following statements 

“Hi welcome to our shop , we encourage your children to touch the displays with your support”

“Please find enclosed your contact of employment , within this organisation we actively encourage staff to be radical and challenge our services in order to improve both patient and  staff experience. We do not wish to stand stand still as an organisation  . We evolve only because our staff evolve us”

Change for me 

What exactly sparked my thoughts for this blog ? Well on Satirday I finally got a new mobile phone , I’ve had the same one for four years and I’ve been driving my family crazy . My old mobile would randomly delete tweets as soon as I tried to open them – but strangely the rebel in me quite enjoyed this 😂

On a daily basis I respond to tweets, DM Twitter messages , emails , notifications , questions and phone calls from other midwives (mainly) and future midwives seeking support, guidance ,conversation   , kindness, responses to ideas or a plan to meet up. I  try my best to help others who ask me for help because that’s what being human means to me – to help others  . The text deficit in my life felt a bit good to be honest and then I realised that my family would probably text me more than communicate with me in the methods mentioned above . I was putting others before them – so I got a new phone . 

How strange that @JennyTheM avoided change !! I wasn’t avoiding change I was rebelling against the system for my own good, thinking that one less method of communication may give me some space for self care and mindfulness BUT I was also being blinkered and not opening myself up to the benefits of a new phone . Anyway as usual I have digressed ! (Nothing new there I hear my friends add !) 

So , back to compliance – I was adding the wonderful Whattapp to my new phone and I saw my daughter’s profile picture .The photograph shows my daughter sat eating an ice cream on some grass right next to a sign saying “PLEASE KEEP OFF THE GRASS” – instead of feeling annoyed , embarrassed or wanting to say “why did you do that?!” I felt a surge of pride . My daughter was sat carefully , she wasn’t digging up the grass , she had taken her shoes off and was enjoying a still moment in time  . Here was MY daughter – a rebel . My heart felt so full I just can’t  explain it in words . Here is the photograph 


The NHS and employment compliance 

Within the NHS , current systems mean that we must comply with such things as uniform, behaviour, policies, contacts , orders , emails, training , shift patterns , meal breaks, and also hierarchy . 

Our short lives begin the science of compliance the moment we are born . Girls wear pink , boys blue . I didn’t know I was going to have a daughter when I was pregnant with my first child so I bought baby clothes in every colour but pink . Over the years as I’ve berated myself for my daughters lack of girly outfits as a neonate but NOW I now see that this was due the rebel in me and also my desire to allow my children to be who they wanted to be . My parents did nothing to ‘girlify’ me or my sisters . I was  encouraged that being different was ok . However I wasn’t told by them that being different would cause me to ‘fit out not it in ‘ and also that I would face challenges both in my personal and professional life for my non-conformist ways . I am happy to report that social media has blown this out of the water , I connect with other  of the same ilk . Other  “compassion rebels” determined to care for others in a way that doesn’t always suit the restraining systems of the NHS . PLEASE NOTE that blaming is not my style I have to connect with others that are on the same mission as me . I’ve found my tribe and wow it feels good .  
It’s time for the NHS to value rebels and this is highlighted in the latest release of  ” Let your workers rebel ” published by Harvard Business Review  . It’s so important that parents also stop trying to conform their children into society as individuality is not only what makes us human it is an evolving process and part of humanity  .

Suggested activities 

Read more about rebel behaviour 

Joint the school for health and care radicals  HERE  is the first module 

Get yourself on Twitter and be present in the 21st Century 

Meet up with like minded souls 

Consider blogging 

Keep compassion at your core 
“Fit out don’t fit in” one of my quotes 
Thank you so much for  reading . I would value any feedback ❤️

With kindest love and compassionate rebelliousness 

Jenny ❤️

Ps I leave you with my poem inspired by Natalie Linden’s fab conference in Worthing on the subject of courage in practice 


Midwifery and birth, NHS

Skin to skin and the WHO checklist board

The day has arrived – several large cardboard flat packs were delivered to the Women’s Unit Theatre today and I could not wait to open them ALL – lucky for me Nick (a Consultant Anaesthetist) who totally ‘gets’ my passion for skin to skin was there .
“Nick” I said “if those boards don’t have skin to skin on them I’m going to have a huge tantrum and I don’t do tantrums”
“lets get them opened then Jenny” he replied
The first ones were “checkout boards ” which are to ensure that everything is correct prior to the woman leaving theatre –
“let’s try these Jenny ” bear in mind these are huge boards about 2-3 metres by 1.5 metres and very heavy – a theatre nurse joined us to help –
“you and your skin to skin you certainly have a passion for it don’t you ?” Mark (an ODP who was tidying up in the pre-op area) commented

Inside I was overwhelmed – not because of the actual board but because of the effect that seeing the actual words would have on a woman and the staff in theatre – I felt that women , midwives and theatre staff would now feel courageous about skin to skin in theatre , ask about it more and that our board might inspire other NHS Trusts . I get lots of private messages on Twitter asking me to help improve skin to skin in theatre and I believe that a positive change in one Trust can spread like a flame through the NHS

Skin to skin is not about @JennyTheM it is about women wanting to hold their newborns that they have nurtured and grown inside their bodies it is about feminism , valuing a woman’s role as a mother and it’s about love – it’s also about quality care , safety , compassion and making a difference as well as the immense health benefits that close contact can bring to both members of the dyad.

The second lot of boxes were moved to the front – Nick opened the top we peered in “can you see skin to skin Nick?” –
he replied “yes Jenny look !!!”
I peeped inside and sure enough there it was …..

‘skin to skin?’ …..they’d even remembered the question mark ! That was crucial as it had to be about reminding , choice and also rhetoric – I hugged Nick and he looked quite shocked – this was just the start and I’d gone through so much with all the staff to get to this point – I was so excited I couldn’t stop smiling – just you wait until those board are on the wall – writing on the wall was well worth it – 20141021-225150.jpgIMG_3870.PNG

Birth, Breastfeeding, Cancer, Children's week, Courage, Dying, Kindness, Learning, Midwifery and birth, NHS, Nursing, Teaching

“it just might just be you”

hope this poem gives you a view
To be kind to others & to yourself be true 

Hospitals, clinics & community work

Its fellow humans you’re caring for so please don’t shirk 

They need your love,passion, time & explanation  

Please focus on the way you give communication 

Consider your language & the way you speak

Empathy is strength , it does not mean you’re weak

Holding a hand & reassurance ain’t just talk 

Its shows through your eyes – means your walking the walk  

The person you are caring for is a human other

-a sister, brother,friend,father, mother

Be mindful of their thoughts and the way  they might be feeling

From an illness or accident that’s left them reeling 

Treat and approach colleagues with zero hierarchy 

collaboration doesn’t support any of that malarkey 

See the whole human, not  just the condition

Be holistic and please let this be your sole mission

Allow care,competence, kindness to guide you through 

As one day that “person”  – well it just might be you 



National Poetry Day 

When i think of all the people  who tweet

I smile to myself as I skip down the street 

They’re  always “there” whenever “there” maybe 

Waiting and responding to a tweet from you or me

Cheering one another up along life’s highway 

With a quote or a saying to brighten our day 

Evidence based practice or new research innovation 

Sharing positivity across all nations 

Or perhaps good news they just wish to share 

Even just a hello to see if someone cares 

Social media is truly social  – connecting others on a level that’s totally global 

So all I’m saying in this short ditty is 

“You don’t have to “fit in” you don’t need to be witty 

Just Join the twitter brigade of positivity 

soon you’ll be skipping down the street just like me 

Follow the ones who are shining out loud

and be a tweeter – join in – you’ll soon feel proud ❤️



Cancer, Courage, Dying, Kindness, Midwifery and birth, NHS, Nursing

Dedicated to my mum Dorothy ❤️ you gave me courage 

I really care about kindness to others and I want others to feel it /share it  

 /learn it . I also want people to see courage in action in their working lives. Life throws some hard stuff at us doesn’t it ? We cant always choose how we begin our lives. 

As a midwife I know that skin to skin contact at birth or afterwards can improve & help to concrete the mother child bond . 

 I’m not trying to upset anyone by harping on – it’s just that I’ve had emails letters and cards from women who had skin to skin contact against all odds and how this small thing that is SO huge impacted so positively on them    – I try to focus on one family at a time and this gets me through my working day – patience with myself / patience with others – however courage is a huge part of me and here’s why …

If my beautiful mum had not contracted cancer , if she had not told me time and time again “I want to die at home” I would not be who I am today – this realisation has taken me years ! 

I have always (and always will)  do my best to step back & see the whole person – not their condition / status / experiences as separate entities but in fact parts of the jigsaw that makes them individual and unique .

 I was 17 years old almost 18 – at sixth form college studying Art /Ceramics & English Lit & Language – totally hooked by Shakespeare and clay , living a normal teenage life at college but at home helping my dad to run his newsagents shop because my mum was becoming less able to . I missed a few deadlines for “essays”  & was summoned to Head of English Dept & after a brief telling off I was “removed” from A level English Literature course  . I was devastated – this was my escape from life – poetry / romance / words / inspiration taken from me in one cruel blow – but I didn’t say to  my teachers “my mum is dying – she hasn’t  got long – help me ” I just carried on and went home and cried . At home I couldn’t ask my dad to help me – his heart was breaking – no one in my family had ever “gone to Uni” what was more important me or my mum ? I accepted my fate . 

I nursed my mum at home until she died -the district nurses taught me how to fill charts in and turn her from side to side so that new soft sheets could be placed under her motherly body – I learnt fast as I wanted to make my mum happy as this made me happy –  seeing her smile at me was priceless . I had finished my A levels and was waiting for results so I was free to be her carer whilst dad ran the shop and my sister Barbara (15) went to school . 

“Our mum” Dorothy fell asleep with me & Barbara lying beside her . It was September 22nd 1978 at 6 pm -she was 53 years young – she’d  lost the ability to speak because of the radiotherapy and brain tumour . She didn’t wake up – it was calm and peaceful – we didn’t scream out we felt happy . Her wish to die at home had been granted -we didn’t realise that  the hard part had only just begun. My mum was courageous – she knew she was going to die and she accepted that .I hardly ever heard her moan about it and she kept a strong smile for her family – I have only just started to appreciate that her courage inspires me through my own life . 

I have missed my mum every single day of my life since then – but I have also thanked her for the times I remember – her encouraging me to do impersonations from being young , her love of baking rubbed off onto me . I recall holidays at Butlins & Pontins with her & my sister  – my dad unable to leave the shop so he couldn’t come with us – what a treat an all girls holiday in the 60s ! We giggled all week and had angel delight & jelly pudding in the “chalet”.  Memories like going to see The Sound of Music , visiting Hornsea Pottery and also her perfume Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps(which I used to secretly pinch) live on with me  – her love of Shirley Bassey Click HERE for one of her favourite songs -This is my life and Elvis Presley  “Return to sender” that she used to sing whilst washing up Watch here she forged memories within me that I treasure every day ❤️

One day after my mum’s death a friend Sophie – who was an enrolled nurse said to me “why don’t you apply to be a nurse ? You were great with your mum and that way you can care for others like you cared for Dorothy” 

Sophie I don’t know where you are today but  “thank you so much” as without your words I would have floundered on what to do which career path to follow  – I became a nurse , then a midwife and I’ve never looked back – very occasionally I’ve imagined my life with my mum getting older and me as a famous potter which I what I wanted to do   – art & ceramics . Instead I work in the Art of Midwifery and I have two amazing children that I value & cherish – so when you read my story & realise there’s more to me than skin to skin – I’d like you to try and see that everyone’s story is different – life makes us who we are for a reason –  try to help others as much as you can -this will improves your quality of life 

I wonder what my mum would say if she could see me now ? 

This blog is dedicated to “Our mum” Dorothy Guiney née Graham 22.2.1925 – 22.9.1978   A wonderful woman, mother,sister,auntie, wife and friend 💛

Midwifery and birth, NHS

❤️Facilitating #SkinToskin- which midwife/nurse/operating theatre worker are you ? ❤️

In the past two days I’ve had several direct  messages on twitter – all connected and concerned with facilitating skin to skin in the operating theatre. 

Messages about  

  • maintaining  skin to skin through transfer from the operating table to the woman’s bed – how to avoid interruption and the challenges this creates
  • Starting skin to skin as a new process in a NHS trust setting 
  • Challenging others in a positive way
  • Increasing the length of skin to skin contact by deferring weighing the newborn 
  • Skin to skin and emergency theatre 

IF you think you can’t make a difference you’re so wrong – anyone CAN! 

A theatre nurse ( Julie) read my tweets and decided to implement skin to skin within her own NHS trust . Imagine receiving a message saying “from 0-58 in 5” ? You are very much mistaken if you imagine this is about cars – it’s actually about beginning with 0 % skin to skin contact at caesarean and increasing that to 58%  in just 5 months ! Well done Julie ❤️- Julie (&joolzl23) spotted me on twitter and decided to change practice – she has had many challenges as “change” is an easy word to spell and to say but to implement ? Change requires strength , evidence , courage and collaboration . It requires sharing of information and experience plus an ability to lose ownership – stop being territorial about your work because as soon as you share remarkable things start to happen

So I’d like to ask “which midwife/nurse /operating theatre worker are you ?” Are you the one that takes control and holds a baby for its mother or places it into a cot thinking you are helping and being kind or are you the one that sees the need in the woman’s eyes to hold her own child and is fully aware of the evidence and research to support practice around the facilitation of skin to skin contact ? 

Do you see the baby as inconvenience or as an intrinsic part of your work ? 

“Let’s get this theatre list done” have you uttered these words ? Or have you heard them spoken ?  

We are not automatons we are human beings involved in the beauty of birth – stop ! Step back think and reflect – Who exactly does the baby belong to? 

Why does there seem to be an obvious shift in the perception of who the newborn belongs to as soon as birth happens in the operating theatre setting ? Change your mindset -put the family in charge – “hello welcome to YOUR baby’s place of birth – we are YOUR theatre team – we work for YOU and we will help you to have the most positive experience with YOUR baby- we will be with YOU to help YOU to hold YOUR NEWBORN – remember make the “we” small make the YOU large and you’ll put the family at ease – even better make the family part of the theatre team  

This week I’ve met Jessie Lai Professor of Midwifery at Hong Kong University with the wonderful midwives she teaches on the masters programme      , talked to Jeni Stevens a midwife from Australia , connected with Meline a student on an access to health care course and of course Julie the maternity theatre nurse . These women all illustrate perfectly that skin to skin in the operating theatre for women who give birth by Caesarean section is an ongoing global issue and one that’s not going to go away . Mothers are meant  to hold their newborn child/children not Health care workers . I am going to continue to tweet, educate, facilitate, blog, present, speak in fact do whatever it takes until it’s accepted globally that all women hold their newborns in the operating theatre . As Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”  


Midwifery and birth, NHS

Courage butter  

As an NHS CareMaker I’d like to provoke some debate on one of the six 6cS COURAGE . 

We hear phrases like “that must have taken some guts!” , “wow – what a courageous act ,”Speak out” 

But how exactly does courage apply to health care professionals ?  

Here Karen Lynas of the NHS Leadership Academy blogs about courage and talks about why we must not chop the heads off tall poppies . 

Visualise your working day and consider how you approach challenges  or difficult situations within your place of work. Do you feel an air of acceptance to comply because  you are  working for the institution, not the patient/woman/family/service user? 

How we approach others and also how we react to others  can be an identifier of a courageous nature – anger should not be responded to by anger as this is like holding an unlit match against a matchbox. 

If  a certain situation is happening , compassion and safety  should always be foremost in our thoughts – is your response kind ? Is the person in any danger – it is worthwhile to contemplate the long term effects of failing to challenge poor care . Poor or substandard care  may continue  because no one has ever challenged the process but it’s always wise to consider the detrimental effects on the service user. Reflection by the service user might not happen until a few weeks later and the impact could be immense on that persons mental health and well being . It is wise to see hold the thought that ‘we are only human”  but in effect our humanity is instrumental in helping us to differentiate right from wrong. 

On the other hand it is always easy to look back on incidents and ask “How did that happen?” We must not bask in the unpredictable light of complacency but each day question our own selves by asking 

Are my actions kind? 

Are my actions evidence based? 

Would I accept this care for myself or for others that I love?”

And we must also hold this thought

 “I am accountable for my inactions”

Imagine yourself as a  newly qualified health care worker suddenly engulfed by the system – what would give you courage ? Would you learn best practice by sticking with the same preceptor or would you observe and gain a sense of right and wrong by reflecting each day and researching care . Is courage visible or auditory ? Can we teach courage do we see it in our daily lives ? Is courage something we associate with Superheroes / daredevils / mountaineers/ extreme sports people but not health care workers ? 
If you overhear colleagues talking about another member of staff in a cruel manner would you  be able to speak out for that colleague or would you join in ? If you discovered that the person being talked about was you how would you truly feel ? 

How can we raise the profile of courage as an intrinsic and crucial part of the 6cs? Do all health care  workers talk as openly about courage as they do the rest of the 6Cs? Is courage embedded into the curriculum  I believe that love and compassion strengthen ones courage.  Maya Angelou’s quote , 

 “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently”

 highlights the fact that first and foremost courage is the core of all our virtues – we  must hold onto it . 

I’m currently reading a book about a man who  displayed immeasurable courage during the Second World War. Louis Zamperini overcame immense suffering through personal courage . What made this man courageous and able to survive ? Was it the discipline of running ? Do health care professionals require an extrnal outlet to help them channel courage in the workplace and is social media one such outlet ?  It is now a proven theory that the  tweeting as a healthcare worker increases ones awareness of compassion . Theresa Chinn MBE (for Theresa’s blog Click Here) has discussed this in her Chapter “Compassion in the Social Era”  in the book Roar Behind the Silence  Click here to be directed to Roar behind the Silence (Why kindness , compassion and respect matter in maternity care) edited by Sheena Byrom and Soo Downed – published by Pinter and Martin 2015. 

On a personal level social media has connected me with a community of real like minded health care professionals that I can reflect with and learn with and from  . Yes it’s totally true I have made real and true tangible friendships through Twitter. There is no hierarchy on Twitter we all have a voice that is heard. Where else would you find a  breastfeeding support worker chatting openly to a Head of Midwifery at 7am in the morning? Tweets from NHS patient experience leads to student nurses ? Someone like me discussing  skin to skin contact with radio DJs as well as rugby players – where else would this happen ?

Recently I sent a tweet out saying I wanted to Spread courage like butter on twitter and slowly the # CourageButter is spreading. Please click the following to read Tweets about Courage Butter Anthony Longstone who is one of #TeamShiny first coined the phrase on Twitter Here . 

I firmly believe that courage can be taught and this teaching knows no hierarchy – a breastfeeding counsellor might teach a student midwife more about courage during one observed consultation with a woman who is breast feeding her newborn than she has seen in her first year of training . It is possible to be quietly courageous or a roar might be needed . 

Remember to use systems to back up your courage – supervision , incident reporting , reflection and record keeping will all help you on your courage journey also use refer to  The new NMC code – click here 

It is crucial that we discuss display and teach courage in order that future generations of health care workers  embrace  it as part their role and more importantly so that the people we care for can continue to receive and expect high quality  care.