International Day Of The Midwife 5th May 2017
Midwives, Mother’s, Families: Partners for Life!
What is ‘International Day of The Midwife’? It was conceived by The International Confederation of Midwives. This organisation was started in 1919 by a group of midwives from all over Europe and aimed to meet up and improve the standards of maternity care. In 1992 ‘The International Day of The Midwife’ was launched. The day aims to highlight the importance of the work that midwives do and echoes the WHO call for more midwives worldwide.
In the UK there are many areas of maternity care that need improvement, but we are lucky in the sense that we have had access to a ‘skilled’ midwife since 1902. In many countries women still give birth alone or at least without the skills of a trained midwife. Access to a midwife is crucial in reducing maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. It is estimated that access to a skilled midwife could reduce and prevent 287,000 women who die whilst giving birth, those who are left with morbidities and 2.7 million newborns who die within the first 28 days of life. When you see stats like this it really makes you thankful for the skilled professionals who are with us through pregnancy and birth. There is no doubt the world needs more skilled midwives.
As it is also Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, therefore the focus of this post is the role of the midwife in promoting maternal mental health.
Over the last 100 years the medical profession has made enormous leaps in understanding the physical events of pregnancy but only relatively recently have we began to see and understand the importance of the mental health of mothers and their families. It is estimated that in the UK Mental Health problems cost the NHS £8.1 billion each year. The RCOG survey findings in the report ‘Maternal Mental Health – Women’s Voices’ makes for really interesting reading and to me highlights the importance and scope of modern midwifery care.
Midwives must care for the mind of pregnant women as well as the physical. We must listen and we must support. To be able to do this however we need more midwives and better organised time with women during appointments. So it seems for the health of mothers everywhere we need more midwives.
Over my career being a midwife has meant many things, personally and professionally. ‘Midwife’ actually means ‘with woman’, but in our modern developed world I think it means much more. Involving partners and families in maternity care is beneficial to facilitating a positive experience. I do believe that even in difficult times a positive experience is possible in terms of outcomes. Midwives are in an ideal position to provide women and their families with holistic care from planning a pregnancy to caring for their baby and adapting to life as a family. Life is complex and when you add a pregnancy to the mix, things change. The adaptation from independent woman to mother can be fraught with emotion for many reasons. Midwives can, with time and training help women with this transition.
The phrase ‘Birth Trauma’ has become well used. This must be for a reason. The phrase is very subjective and can mean different things to different people. It says to me though that women are not being listened to or communicated with effectively. Firstly I think trust is necessary for women to open up and feel like they can count on midwives for support. To facilitate trust, I think continuity of carer is advantageous. Seeing the same midwife or small team of midwives is beneficial in maintaining open relationships with families and building trust. Continuity of carer in my experience is achieved to some extent in smaller units but in larger units is near impossible (unless you see a specialist team for a reason). Again we need more midwives to enable this.
Overall I think midwives are doing an excellent job (I may be biased as I am one), I know how hard they work but I think we are capable of so much more. We just need the investment of time and resources into the profession. This would allow us to truly support women AND their families through this life changing event.
Have you read our guest posts this week sharing their stories of mental illness during and after pregnancy?
Thanks to the brilliant blogging community for finishing this sentence for me –
‘Midwives rock because….’
Here is what they said.
‘Midwives rock because mine was a port in the storm. Throughout my pregnancy she always knew when I needed encouragement and post delivery she was unfailing in her support, always advocating for me and taking zero crap from anyone. I owe her so much.’
‘You never know what goes on behind the scene. They are the epitome of a swan on the surface!’
‘Sometimes babies like mine like to make a dramatic entrance into the world via an emergency c-section on Christmas Day and the midwives are there on hand, sacrificing their own special day with their family and missing out on their Christmas dinner to help others and to save lives.‘
‘They have your best interests at heart. I wanted an epidural despite sailing through my first 8cm and she wouldn’t let me even consider it. I was angry at the time but in hindsight I would have been worse off.‘
‘My Midwives rock because without them my son would not be here as he suffered from complications after his birth. My midwife even popped in to see us in the NICU unit every day just to see how he was doing and to check that I was okay too. I will always be grateful for everything they did for us at the time.’
‘They are the ones who held my hand through both devastation and elation, who said my son’s name when other healthcare professionals wouldn’t and who understand how much fear there is in a next pregnancy. They are hand holders, protectors, cheerleaders, therapists and friends and I am forever grateful to them.’
‘They got me through 3 births whilst listening to my partners awful jokes! That deserves a medal!’
‘Because midwives are Rockstars. My midwife on my last three pregnancies went above and beyond for me. I found out I had an blood condition on my second pregnancy and she was there with me and for me every step of the way. She gave me her mobile and even answers questions when she wasn’t on shift. I actually nominated her Midwife of the year in the Maternity and Infant Awards 2015 and and she only went and won.’
‘They perform miracles every day.’
‘ Midwives rock because they got me through my labour when I thought I couldn’t push anymore.. I remember saying ‘I’m so exhausted I can’t push anymore’ and the midwife said ‘you haven’t done anything yet you can’t be tired’ whilst at the time I gave her daggers It actually made me want to get the baby out of me even more’
‘Sometimes they leave the practice but give you their mobile number so you can keep in contact.’
‘Midwives rock because without them acting so incredibly fast and knowing the signs of something being wrong before our son had been delivered, we would have lost our baby. Without the amazing team we had, we wouldn’t be parents’
‘Midwives rock because I am one, so that makes the others my best friends, the ones that drag me through an awful 12 hour shift and make me want to go back the next day!’
‘Midwives rock because they are honest and know when and how to “push” you to your limit even when you think it’s impossible.’
‘They both stayed long past their ‘clock off’ times to see my labours through. Their familiar, reassuring voices were invaluable.’
Lucy from Real Mum Reviews actually wrote a post in which she expresses her thanks for the midwives who cared for her. Read it here.
‘They’re the first people in the world to put your baby first. At the end of the day, the safety of your baby is their main priority!’
‘Midwives rock because when you really think you “can’t do it” they push(no pun intended) you on and big you up and help you to really believe that, “hell yeah, I CAN do this!”‘
The Tale of Mummyhood