A patchwork of political lobbying

The other week I got hold of the Green Party’s policy on Maternity Care. I quite like it. however, I am actually a member of the Liberal Democrat Party – well on the very edges of it. Hmmm me thinks “I wonder what the Lib Dems are saying on the subject. And somewhat reluctantly (as I really have nothing else to do at all!) I must set about finding out what my party says, with a view to scrutiny, comment and lobbying for change.

Seeking change within political party structures is not something all of us can or want to do – but some of us need to do it. It is part of the strategy for change. We need to build a patchwork banner, mother led, midwife empowered, created from the experience of us all, sewn with love and compassion for ourselves and our families. And it needs to be so large and enveloping that wherever our country’s leaders turn they will see another segment of our calls for care and compassion to our birthing sisters and daughters.

Writing letters, sending emails, asking questions, reading policy documents all felt so drab until a minute ago when I began to weave in womanly terms the work we need to do. It takes it from my crowded desk and puts it in my work basket overflowing with yarn and potential!

the lobbying of political parties needs to be done to keep our births safe after the next election. And to do it and do with it creatvity energy love and flair we need to think of this work in different terms: I need to think of it in different terms: not another policy document to read but a patten weaved, not a letter written but a piece of fabric linked in.

And so, with renewed vigour, I invite you to read the Green Party maternity care policy below with a view to using it as a lever to lobby for better maternity services in the political landscape you are situated whether from within or without a political party or pressure group, whether it be locally or nationally. Let us use all the tools in our work basket to change the patten of birth.

Green Party Policy:

In 25% of NHS trusts, intervention rates are double the targeted
level. Lack of continuity of care, a shortage of midwives and
consultants and beds contribute to high death rates and threaten
mothers’ and babies’ health. About 11 million UK women have suffered
post-birth trauma.

Insert a new section after H302, titled “Maternity Services” and
subsequently renumber.
H303: All women should be entitled to the highest standards of care
during pregnancy and birth, and post-natally. We will ensure that
women are given the information they need to make appropriate choices
about how they wish to give birth, and that a full range of options,
including home birth and a range of styles of hospital delivery, is
made available to all women.
H304: The incidence of medical intervention in childbirth has
escalated in recent years, particularly the rate of caesarean
sections, which are expensive and, when not medically required, risky.
We will work to reduce the number of interventions in childbirth, and
change the culture of the NHS so that birth is treated as a normal and
non-medical event, in which mothers are empowered and able to be in
H305 All women will be entitled to the care of a single midwife
through prenatal care, birth and the first month of post-natal care,
in line with the model of care currently provided by independent
midwives. This will be made possible by initiatives to improve the
recruitment and retention of midwives.
H306 We will ensure that the NHS embraces the current quality and style of care as offered by Independent Midwives so that they are able to work within the NHS system and offer this type of care to all women in a single tier system. We shall ensure that midwifery training places are increased to meet medium and long term needs. This will be achieved by: ensuring that terms and conditions for midwives are improved, increasing investment in midwifery services to ensure that these policies are delivered, specific funding for midwife training along with targeted recruitment drives, and ensuring that the culture of midwifery services is supportive for both mothers and midwives.
H307: All women and their partners will be offered a full range of
psychological support after birth to help deal with trauma and
post-natal depression. The party will ensure that baby clinics are
open for adequate hours, so that women can get access to health
visitors and take their babies for regular check-ups at a location
that is convenient for them.
H308: Maternity units should be sufficient in number and located so
that all women are within reasonable reach of one. Special Care Baby
units will be expanded in line with the increasing number of babies
that need intensive care, but special attention will also be given to
preventative efforts to reduce the number of low birth weight and other
problems that contribute to this need. Funds allocated for maternity
services should be ring-fenced to ensure that they are used for the
intended purpose.
H309: Throughout maternity services the focus will be on compassion
and on providing a safe, supportive environment. Complaints will be
treated with sympathy, and systems arranged to ensure that complaints
can be registered easily and are investigated properly, challenging
the ‘conspiracy of silence’ that discourages women from speaking about
their traumatic experiences for fear of frightening other women.