“I first met Jenny at a study day at Coventry University last year. Jenny delivered a presentation based on her efforts to change practice locally to facilitate skin to skin contact during surgical birth and thus promote optimal health outcomes for the mother-infant dyad. Jenny finished her presentation by stating that all future midwives should embrace every opportunity to advocate for mothers and babies by facilitating immediate skin to skin contact during caesarean section and thus normalising the birthing experience for mothers encountering surgical birth. This presentation was life-changing for me.
I have a background in infant feeding and, therefore, have an awareness around the importance of skin to skin contact in terms of supporting early breastfeeding initiation and easing the neonate’s transition to extrauterine life. However, whilst my local trust is keen for midwives to promote skin to skin following vaginal birth, skin to skin contact in theatre had never taken place. I was, however, inspired by Jenny’s overwhelming passion to advocate for mothers by challenging practice in order to act in the best interests of mothers and their babies. I researched the evidence in support of facilitating skin to skin in obstetric theatres and Jenny emailed me papers that discussed the importance of midwives changing practice. I engaged some of my colleagues took and the evidence to the labour ward lead at my trust and this inspired an MDT meeting to generate motivation for change.
Unfortunately, we encountered much collegial resistance to skin to skin contact in theatre because health care professionals from other disciplines lack understanding around the physiological and emotional importance of immediate mother-infant contact. Anaesthetic colleagues in particular felt that immediate maternal-infant contact would interfere with their attempts to monitor maternal vital signs and senior midwives felt concerned that the midwife would be pre occupied with facilitating skin to skin rather than completing the necessary birth notes in preparation to expedite transfer to post natal ward after the surgery.
Using the evidence to support the change to practice and inspired by jenny’s commitment to facilitating best practice, we were successful in inspiring the development of new local guidelines that support skin to skin in theatre for all healthy mother-infant dyads. Furthermore, our surgical checklist now prompts early consideration around maternal desire for immediate skin to skin contact during caesarean section. This is evidence of how influential Jenny has been in inspiring practice change in maternity services.”
— Marie Rivvett, Final Year of Midwifery Studies, University of Worcester