WOMEN'S VOICES Surrogacy. The dream of parenthood
Infant feeding support worker
Women’s Voices is an occasional series that captures the reflections, recommendations and reviews of those who work within or use maternity care services. Sharing the perspectives and experiences of women, partners, families and maternity workers helps to explore what really matters in the everyday, life-changing moments of childbearing, birth and parenthood. With a special focus on sharing the voices of those who use maternity services, we hope to enhance woman-focused, family-centred care practices.
Professor of Midwifery, practising midwife and writer
2017;20(8): ePub September 2017(September 2017)
Hannah Dahlen reflects on the origins of her passion for midwifery, research and teaching
The minute one is born – who sees it? The impact of reality birth shows in Britain and beyond
Third Year Student Midwife, Coventry University
2017;20(6): epub 29 May 2017(June 2017)
TV viewing hours are at an all-time high in the UK, with childbirth-based programmes some of the most popular. Women's viewing choices could be influencing their expectations around childbirth – maybe even informing their decisions. This article uses current literature to explore the possible influence of television and the resulting implications for childbearing women and families. These TV influences are considered and examined through key themes of medicalisation of childbirth, fear and autonomy. There is limited research on the impact of childbirth-based programmes; however the literature that exists does suggest that television influences women's expectations of childbirth. Here, recommendations are made for midwives and for further research to help optimise the influence and reduce any negative impacts.
The impact of working environments on maternity care professionals
Midwifery Lecturer at University of Central Lancashire
Working environments ultimately shape and influence all that we do as maternity care professionals. The place in which we work becomes a large part of our lives, and the influences around us shape our professional ethos and practice. Limited research surrounds this ‘hidden’ aspect of maternity care, yet the phenomenon is real. For some, the work place represents a duty, a calling, an escape, a sanctuary; yet at times it can seem limiting, frustrating and a challenging place to be. It is important to consider how working environments for front-line practitioners affect working practices and experiences. To empower women, we ourselves must be empowered to create a positive working environment for ourselves and our colleagues.
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VIEWPOINT Midwives are mobilising, midwives are acting: the regulation of midwives
Dr Lesley Choucri
Senior Lecturer at University of Salford
Midwife at One To One North West
Huge changes are happening in midwifery that are affecting our profession as we know it and hardly anyone has talked about it; and notably no one has shouted about it. Until now.
How history shaped the modern day midwife
Associate Midwife Leader at Blackburn Birth Centre and Supervisor of Midwives(January 2017)
The midwifery profession can be traced back over thousands of years. Globally, midwives have expressed noticeable changes to their role over the years, and the impact on childbearing women (Larsson et al 2009; Mavalankar and Vora 2008; Dickerson et al 2014). During this time the midwifery profession has battled continuously against external pressures and this, in turn, has shaped the role of the midwife and the midwifery profession as a whole. This article aims to provide an insight into the history of midwifery; the challenges both midwives and the midwifery profession have faced; how these challenges have changed; and how this has assisted the development of the ‘modern day midwife’. Of course this could not be discussed without acknowledging the continuing impact on childbearing women in the United Kingdom and globally.
Taking the plunge: the benefits of aquanatal exercise
Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at University of West of England at the time of the interview(December 2016)
In this article, Anita Johnson carried out an interview with Cathy Charles, a midwife and aquanatal teacher in Wiltshire, to explore the benefits of aquanatal exercise in pregnancy and the postnatal period; this is particularly pertinent at a time when there is a focus on mental wellbeing and rising obesity and caesarean section rates. Anita wanted a first-hand account from a midwife trained in water-based fitness and her experiences of delivering aquanatal classes to pregnant women. Following Anita’s own experience of participating in the aquanatal class and Cathy’s entertaining interview she hopes it may encourage midwives to promote this form of exercise and to pursue recognised training to deliver their own classes.
Bringing dignity through the door in maternity care
Ilana Pizer Mason
Newly qualified Midwife(November 2016)
Dignity is a complex concept deeply rooted in human rights and ethical theory. While dignity features widely in UK general health care policy and campaigns, it is largely absent from maternity and obstetric literature. Review of women's experiences of dignity in the UK reveals that, overall, experiences are positive. However, downfalls in communication, trust and involvement in decision-making all strongly affect perceptions of dignity. Further qualitative research is required to enhance understanding and inform changes in UK maternity policy and practice. A practical tool is presented to promote holistic approaches to dignity, offering professionals suggested ways to consider dignity in practice.
Surviving rape We are vulnerable, too
The author wishes to withhold her name, as writing the article has contributed to her recovery and she is now ready to move forward from this experience(April 2016)
My transition to becoming a student midwife has not been straightforward: I bring baggage. I was raped 11 years ago and buried it, so did not consider that becoming a midwife would pose any problems. Little did I know that this journey would make me question my own experiences of pregnancy and motherhood, and would bring the rape and subsequent termination to the forefront of my mind, forcing me to confront issues that I would have preferred to leave unearthed. Reading around the subject has helped me to understand emotions that have surfaced, and put a name to how I am feeling, yet certain procedures in practice make me uncomfortable. It is thought that 20 per cent of women aged 16-59 have experienced a sexual assault of some type since turning 16 (Rape Crisis 2015), so being sensitive to vulnerabilities faced by service users, students and colleagues is crucial. I do not make recommendations for practice, but the reference list provides a starting point for those who wish to read more extensively.
Midwives, gender equality and feminism
Associate professor in midwifery and postgraduate director of research and knowledge transfer at Nottingham University(March 2016)
Gender inequality and the harmful effects of patriarchy are sustaining the wide spread oppression of women across the world and this is also having an impact on maternity services with unacceptable rates of maternal mortality, the continued under investment in the midwifery profession and the limiting of women’s place of birth options. However alongside these effects, the current zeitgeist is affirming an alignment of feminism and gender equality such that both have a high profile in public discourse. This presents a once in a generation opportunity for midwives to self-declare as feminists and commit to righting the wrongs of this most pernicious form of discrimination.
Socially visible midwives
Freelance nurse and social media specialist at WeNurses
Midwife intrapartum service team at the Fylde Coast Birth Centre and Delivery Suite and social media expert(February 2016)
Social media are playing a bigger and bigger part in our personal lives and what’s more they are now infiltrating our professional lives, too. Moving from just ‘being on’ social media to using social media effectively as a midwife, is a huge challenge that many midwives are facing. To be effective and to really utilise social media to their full potential, midwives need to consider role-modelling, leading, social capital, digital footprint, visibility and continuing professional development. If all of these aspects are considered and midwives take a more considered approach to social media, they can really start to benefit from engaging in these online spaces.
Standing out: overcoming fear
Creator of BloodtoBaby optimal cord clamping campaign and research assistant at the University of Central Lancashire(February 2016)
The BloodtoBaby campaign provides midwives, students and others involved in the childbirth continuum with clear evidence based tools to teach women and families about the benefits of delayed cord clamping (DCC). Gaining sponsorship has enabled these educational tools to be distributed free of charge, shipped as far afield as New Zealand, South Africa, Palestine and across the UK. Developing the BloodtoBaby campaign has been incredibly empowering and, of course, rewarding. I am truly appreciative not just of its success but also, importantly, the journey itself and the personal knowledge I have gained. I've been faced with challenges and asked myself many questions but, unexpectedly, I have uncovered many personal treasures and I'd like to share those with you.
2015: MATERNITY’S BIG YEAR
Victoria Anne Morgan
Lead facilitator at Every birth a safe birth(January 2016)
Maternity is the ‘shop window’ of the NHS – the commonest reason for admission to hospital. In 2015, maternity services were in the spotlight as a series of major reports was published about safety, and announcements made about changes to the system in which services operate. Here, I review the events of 2015 and consider how to capitalise on the opportunities these events afford to make maternity services excellent. The NHS is what makes the public most proud to be British (Quigley 2014). Let’s make our maternity services the pride, not only of the NHS, but also of the developed world.
Empowering embodiment through belly dancing in pregnancy: a phenomenological exploration
Dance instructor and support worker at a mental health charitable organisation(May 2015)
Exercise during pregnancy has physical benefits for mother and fetus; however there has been little research into potential emotional benefits. At least 10-15 per cent of mothers suffer from ante- and postnatal depression, which can lead to extreme adverse consequences. This has been linked to self-esteem, body image and isolation, amongst other factors. Belly dance has been shown to increase self-esteem and body image and to provide a sense of community in non-pregnant women. This study uses phenomenology to explore how pregnant women experience belly dance using semi-structured interviews with two mothers. Three themes emerged from the data: in tune and able, connecting with others and pride and joy. The findings suggest that pregnancy belly dancing provides an opportunity for women to celebrate their femininity and maternity through connecting with others, their bodies and their babies. Belly dance is shown to be a joyful, empowering activity, with potential for improving psychological wellbeing during pregnancy.
Tribute Sheila Kitzinger MBE - more than a birth guru
Professor Lesley Page CBE
President of the Royal College of Midwives, visiting professor at King’s College, London and adjunct professor at University of Technology, Sydney(May 2015)
Professor Page looks back at the life of one of the most influential figures in natural childbirth and woman-centred care of modern times
Memorial services offered following an early pregnancy loss in Scotland
Doctor at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Grant P Cumming
Consultant obstetrician at Dr Gray’s Hospital, NHS Grampian(March 2015)
Empirical evidence suggests that memorial services and mementoes aid the grieving process for couples following an early pregnancy loss, and reduce the risk of psychological morbidity with its attendant sequelae. Following a telephone questionnaire, the provision of and signposting to memorial services was found to vary across 20 Early Pregnancy Units (EPUs) identified in Scotland, with local media resources employed, rather than personal invitation, and no consistency at which gestational age or when mementoes were offered. These discrepancies need to be resolved. All units were aware of national charities working in this area.
Hay fever in pregnancy
Expert writer and presenter on airborne allergies including hay fever(May 2014)
Spring and summer can bring misery to millions who suffer from allergic reactions to pollen. Hay fever can cause runny noses, streaming eyes and sore throats. Sadly, many treatments for this distressing condition are not recommended during pregnancy because of fears surrounding the effect on the unborn child. This article presents the causes and treatments of hay fever and explores the alternatives for use during pregnancy which may be able to relieve or minimise the unpleasant symptoms without harming the baby.
The politics of maternity
Emeritus professor of midwifery at the University of Edinburgh
AIMS vice chair and director of Pregnancy and parents centre in Edinburgh
Lecturer in midwifery at Edinburgh Napier University
Sociologist at Trinity College, Dublin
Independent midwife in Edinburgh and NHS Lothian bank midwife(February 2014)
Changes in the culture of health care require that, to be effective, midwifery practice should become more woman-centred. This may be facilitated by adopting a stronger community orientation. In this way the hegemony of maternity care may be addressed. This paper seeks to draw readers’ attention to political developments and to inspire midwives to greater awareness and, possibly, activity.