A stab in the dark

10 more postcards in the box today but need to do another big push this week. Some of the student midwves have really got the bit between their teeth – hoping I get a good few from them. Meanwhile await couriers and delivery of more postcards as have about 50 left out of the 500 sent so far. that works out about 1 in 5 coming back to me to give to the chief exec in person.

Anyway it is late and the real reason for this blog is to tell you what I did today. I found a piece of paper buried on my desk with a contact on it with PPI on it. I rmembered I had been given this contact ages ago at a woman’s event at the Born in Bradford stall where as usual I was sounding off on the need for some qulity midwfery care in Bradford – the research is there we just need action! I was not really sure who I was emailing – was it the NHS Trust or the PCT contact I had been given and what does PPI mean. Anyway I took a deep breath and emailed a general concern and asking how her department might work to help mums. She emailed back promptly with concern and forwarded me to the head of midwfery and PALS – having been around that track already I went back to her with genuine thanks for her response but saying:

“Thankyou or your kind and prompt response.
However, I am already in touch with Julie and indeed with others within the Trust regarding the lack of midwives and the standards of care that are resulting. There is however a resource issue which goes beyond PALS and the Maternity Services Management team and is about the commissioning and priority of services for mothers. This is the level at which we seem to be stuck at the moment and I am wondering how PPI may enable mothers like myself to be involved. Are mothers involved/participating in the commissioning and shaping of maternity care in Bradford? And how do they get to effectively participate? This is perhaps the key question needing an answer.”

And the answer I got? “Hi Ruth, You’re welcome. You have raised some excellent issues. I will be in contact with you in the very new future to discuss how we can work together to enable PPI to be successful in this area.”

Fab. And I can follow up on this in a few weeks if I hear nothing.

Sometimes a stab in the dark works . . . . .

See yous all later

Getting started

As I found myself telling another poor soul in an email about the latest step forward/back in my personal campaigning – just because I needed to tell SOMEONE, I thought maybe it is time to start a blog. Then no one person bears the burden of my story but anybody can. This then is a very personal account of a very personal journey and in no way does it necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the campaign groups I am part of.

This is a blog to inform, encourage, to inspire and to commiserate, with a mother who wants to leave the world a better place by giving my daughters the freedom to birth surrounded by love, at the time and place of her choosing and that of her baby. And while we are on the subject of dreams I want my daughters to have midwives who they know and trust through pregnancy, through labour and postnatally. And those midwives to be part of a truly independent professional service acknowledged and respected in the health service as the specialists in normal birth. We will have obstetric nurses – but that is what they will be called, not midwives. Midwives will be serving the interests of the mother not the doctor.

Slowly and incrementally I have been drawn into campaigning for all women to have proper midwifery care, a real choice about where and how they have their baby. Today women can choose to have a hospital birth and a medical birth – this is the default in many areas. In Bradford where I live, for instance, homebirth is a ‘bolt on’ extra – even though I am half as likely to have a Caesarean and reduce the chances of a serious infection for me and my baby – we can only have a home birth if staff are available. And continuity of care here is a joke, the nearest most women get to their midwife is knowing her name and having her team’s mobile number.

After I took over Aquabirths I began to realise that it was not just me that was struggling for the care and choices I needed. This was happening over and over again, we were being picked off woman by woman, birth by birth, and my feminist hackles rose: there was a historical patten being played out here. The feminism of the 20ies brought universal suffrage, the feminism of the sixties paved the way for equal employment rights and equal opportunities for women, but here in the new millennium we still have a misogynist maternity system, designed and largely controlled, by medical men with a mechanistic and a narrowly medical understanding of both women and birth. And much practice is not even scientifically based; as my husband is wont to comment – “Don’t let science get in the way of medicine!”

And because the personal is political and my births became the political football of the local Trust, and because although we need to think global we must act local, I am finally admitting to the world and myself that yes I am a mother and I am campaigning for change in Bradford, in the UK and if possible the world (there is nothing like aiming high!). And yes I have been doing it for years but now I am out in the open, the head clearly raised above the parapet, and campaign postcards in hand marching towards the chief exec of the local PCT, the latest focus of our attention.

That is more than enough from me for one night. So for more information on the postcard campaign go to www.saveindependentmidwfery.org