Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal

Fantastic ARM Study Day at Wigan on Midwifery Regulation (18th March 2017).  This is what I said in my bit.

We want to set up a new Council for the Regulation of Midwives based on strong values: beginning with the wellbeing of the mother and her family.  We want all mothers to feel supported throughout their maternal pathway and we believe that good quality evidence is at the centre of midwifery practice- for this is what public protection most properly means for maternity.

So my call to you at the end of this day as mothers and midwives of this generation is to set about making this happen for the benefit of the midwives and mothers to come.  It will take work and cunning and more work and political wheeling and dealing and a hell of alot of campaigning but it can be done and we can do it.  And this is what is called a BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL.

A BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL is based on vision but is not itself a vision – vision is about values such as the stuff I have just said.  A Big Hairy Audacious goal is what you want and what you are determine to achieve.  That all mothers are supported through the maternal pathway is our vision, that the centre of our practice is nurture and good evidence is a value, but  OUR BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL – to achieve this vision and these values – is to set up a new Regulatory Council for Midwives.

It is AUDACIOUS: it makes one raise ones eyebrow, it makes others sit up and think, it may keep some of us awake at night wondering how the hell we are going to do it.  It is audacious but it is a concrete outcome and it is achievable so it is a goal.  And it is BIG and HAIRY because ALL Audacious Goals have to be Big and Hairy.  It is more fun that way.

And fun is a big part of this BHAG.  Because it is not much fun being a midwife with a regulatory body that does not have a practicing midwife on it, has a one day a week midwifery advisor to the CEO and does not know the difference between a private midwife and an independent one. It is not fun to lose your practise because your regulatory body can’t be bothered to go through your insurance policy in detail. Fragmentary factory care is not fun!  Coming off a 12 hour shift feeling like you have given your all but not met the needs of the women you have cared for is not fun.  It is not fun to find that supervision, the independent professional support for midwives and mothers has now been seceded in England to the employers – where we are already seeing conflicts of interest come into play.  It is not much fun if you have ever had the misfortune to be hauled infront of the NMC to be tried ( because that is what it is) by judges who do not know or understand your profession – or anything much about maternity.  It is not fun to pay more in regulatory fees than other better paid professions. It is not fun to watch what you hold precious in your profession de-valued so much that it is abolished as has happened with the midwifery code.  It is not right – that is for sure – but it takes all the FUN out of being a midwife.

So our BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL is about putting the fun back into our profession.  And so I do suggest that whatever we do whilst achieving this goal, that we ensure that we have FUN whilst achieving it.  Some activists in the Netherlands recently spoke of working with ‘unrealistic optimism’ for the eradication of poverty and injustice.  And that is the attitude we must now have.  In the face of all challenges and setbacks we must work diligently with unrealistic optimism, because that is why we have a BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL.

OK so how do we go about achieving our BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL? That would be a 2 day course I think so some pointers.  We need a strategy and it needs to be simple and clear.  And then from it we have tasks – things we have to do to take the strategy forward.  A group of us have started working on a strategy and it is simple there are 3 initial key lines (more will emerge and other will fall back).

ONE

We need a research  group – These are our scouts who will find out, what happened last time, what has gone wrong now (digging into papers and minutes), what examples and models are there out there which we could use or partner with etc.  Lots of reading homework for those so inclined. Could do with a lawyer or two as well.  Also some formal meetings and networking work too – they may need to be different people as visiting people is not just about information it is about politics – its not just information we seek but a bond and a political position. We want to get all our ducks in a row all our evidence in place all our arguments formulated, the key people nobbled,before we go in there with our formal proposals

TWO

We need our campaign group to become a movement.  Currently it is small it can be ignored, laughed at and derided – this is currently the outward attitude of the NMC and the Government to the Save Independent Midwifery Campaign and this move against the NMC that has come out of it.  That is fine – they are behaving just as expected.  What we need to do now is make it so big, have so many stake holders in it that it cannot be ignored – this is when we will find the real opposition in and outside midwifery because this is when the fight really begins.

How do we build a movement?  By talking and educating everyone. So we set up meetings, we speak at meetings, we set up study days and conferences. We set up websites, and FB groups blogs and memes (notice the plural – let every flower bloom is my view).  We have meetings with our MPs and our counterparts in other professions.  We talk to consumer groups and parents.  We just talk to everyone who will listen – all the time.  I talk to drunk men coming home on the train from a foot ball match for God’s sake!  Never pass up an opportunity. Yes you become a regulatory bore but make it fun – it is BIG and HAIRY after all – unlike the guy on the train I might add.

Remember Caroline Flint talking about the vow to tell someone everyday about being a midwife and having a homebirth?  Well this is it!  That is how you make a campaign group into a movement – when everyone in the campaign starts telling someone anyone, who crosses their path that they want midwifery to be regulated by midwives and mums, and why. And we have social media which means you don’t even have to go out of your front door to do it.

THREE

The technical organiser in me says we will need to constitute a proper organisation at some point – just because this is going to be too big for any small group to hold.  Also we need buy in, leadership and input from a wide cross section of people.  An organisation will keep things relatively orderly when and where it matters which is when we approach funders, ministers, professional bodies and so on and so forth.  Don’t get me wrong the nature of movements is that there will be a happy and at times unhappy chaos.  But at the steely core there has to be a strong structure that can hold things together.  This will take a bit of time and effort but is not hard to do, but running this organisation will take over the lives of the people involved as the ARM has taken over the lives of some of the people involved and as Aquabirths took over my life.  But the group who do this will be making a difference and contributing a big chunk to the BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL.

Now the next level down from the big strategy above is the detail – and I certainly aint boring you with that at this time of day!  Join the campaign group choose which bit of the strategy you want to go for and linking in with others get on with it is what I say. Except for one thing: One detail you could all help the campaign with TODAY, is to write a letter of support for a new regulatory body for midwifery.  We need letters of support – hundreds of them – so we must start now.  With you.  Like at school, I need you to write a short letter stating your support for new regulation for midwifery and why.  It does not have to be long – two paragraphs will do – one saying what you want and the other saying why.  Sign off with your role and position – eg Midwife and mother, Big cheese midwife, professor midwife with big hat, Baroness Nobody and mother etc etc  you get the idea anyway.  We can bank these and collect many more for when we need to demonstrate that there is a seriously big mandate for change.  Email to me for now: ruth@aquabirths.co.uk or message me:  ruth Aquabirths Weston – my colleagues who support me selling pools will go mad as they wade through  all the emails.  But hey  – the price of success.

Yes and the price of Success.  This BHAG/Project cannot and must not rest on the shoulders of one person or even of a small few.  And this is a warning to my lovely ARM colleagues here and also to myself.  This is a massive project – it could take years if the movement stays small and we get no money.  So we have to build structures into our movement that ensure that as one falls there is another to take her place.  Not because we are all going to drop off the peg but because we are all ordinary folk here – we have jobs, we have children, we have aging parents we have life in all its fullness.  We will all need to deal with stuff other than Midwifery Regulation and so to box clever we need to ensure that the whole thing rolls on without one particular person having to be there.

This is so important to the achievement of this goal and why constitution of an organisation is part of the initial strategy.  One suffragette who was also a mother and a mill worker said – ‘We fight with one hand tied behind our back because seldom has a cause been won between dinner and tea!’  The suffrage movement – and it became a movement with several organisations within it – was forced to organise in this way to achieve its BHAG.  And these are the women on whose shoulders we stand today.

If you need to learn some lessons on changing constitutions then go and read up on the suffrage movement, we have all their barriers: a profession dominated by another professions, a patriarchal culture still in existence within and outside maternity, our room for manoeuvre limited by our place in society and the expectations and decisions of others.  Do not underestimate the subtle and pernicious ways this affects us and our opponents in the achievement of our goal.  I am not saying this to get you down but to be realistic.  For instance one of the points made at our formative meeting was that midwives are so overworked and crushed by their working conditions they won’t want to know or do anything.  Yep that is so true – and has been true for other movements for change like suffrage – but it is a challenge to be overcome not an eternal barrier – so we must seek out fun ways to meet that challenge in our colleagues. In Peace and Justice circles it is called ‘empowerment’..

And just like this job isn’t just for one person or one group of people, so we cannot do everything at once and won’t achieve everything at once – so we must be focussed.  As a group and as individuals we must recognise what we can do now – choose our priorities and do those few things we can do, the next step will enable us to do more, and so will more people, but ultimately it is choosing our priorities doing what we can do and not worrying about what we cannot.  Really and truly this is how big changes happen.

Remember the cycling team success for the Olympics? – they decided their focus was to be fixing the small things that got in the way of achieving their BHAG and in fixing the small things by degrees they arrived at their BHAG and gold medals.

I remember learning my lesson as a University chaplain many years ago.  My senior colleague told me – there is so much work to be done here, you can only see 10% of it, and of that you can only do 2%.  You have to learn to live with this fact and not try to do everything but do your 2% well.  And he was right – do what you can well and don’t worry about the rest.  This still enabled me to run a national campaign on student poverty, it still enabled me to set up and facilitate a student housing group, that achieved a cross professions task group with council and university reps that ultimately set in place policies that are still in place today keeping students safe.  And I bailed out half way through to have a baby and then was made redundant. But I had facilitated the change from a campaign group to a movement and it did not need me anymore to make the change actually happen.

I despair when people give up on the small thing they could do because it won’t change anything – because I know and so do other change-makers that it is doing the small things everyday that changes EVERYTHING.  If everyone here does the small things they can do – I am telling you we will be well on our way.

Okay, so my time is up and we need to recap to remember.  What is a new regulatory body for midwifery?  A BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL – it is big and hairy because it is fun, and it is big and audacious because it is a mighty challenge but it is a GOAL because it is achievable.  And we can and will achieve it.

We achieve it by having fun and having a strategy.  Our strategy is simple 123. 1 Build a movement – and the key action today is to tell everyone and any one – and all of us can do this, 2. Do our homework and get all our ducks in a row before heading down the M6 to march on Westminster, 3 make sure we have an organisational structure that will keep order and ensure no one person or persons becomes critical to the achievement of our GOAL

We know that we are human that we are women with LIFE and responsibilities but we know that other women before us have faced the challenge of change-making in the midst of life and faced greater discrimination that we do.  So we will be focussed and do what we can well, we will be focussed boxing clever with our priorities, we will be patient because this could take a long time, but we will be confident that change can happen – because this is our  BHAG and we are working stolidly to achieve it.

And today’s actions by this group are: 1. to write a letter of support for this big hairy audacious goal, 2. to make a personal vow to tell someone each day about this by whatever social means, and 3. to think about setting up a public or private meeting and inviting one or two of us to talk about it so we can grow our campaign through the maternity communities of our land.

No big deal then!  Small steps and Big Hairy Audacious Goal – I am looking forward to the fun – and I hope you are too!

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What you can do to save midwifery as an independent profession in the UK.

By Ruth Weston and Emma Ashworth

Independent Midwives are in the NMC firing line, and most of the campaigning that you might see is about this. However, the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council), which made this decision, did so without a practicing midwife on the board, and the ramifications of the decision affects every midwife in the UK.

For instance, the NMC have stated, “A registered midwife can only attend a woman during a birth if she has appropriate indemnity cover. The midwife cannot avoid this legal requirement by attending the birth in a ‘non-midwife’ capacity… The only exception to this is when a midwife attends a birth in a personal capacity to support a family member or close friend for whom they have not previously provided midwifery services”. “Services” includes emotional and physical support, meaning that midwives are being banned from attending the births of their grandchildren, or their own babies in the case of male or lesbian midwives if they’ve so much as listened in, or supported their partner through morning sickness.

The NMC is removing the midwifery committee, which advises the NMC on midwifery matters. Its replacement will have no budget and delegatory powers and it is unclear who will be on it and what its role will be within the NMC. As the NMC – the NURSING and Midwifery Council – has overwhelming numbers of nurses compared to midwives, and the way it is now being set up means midwives will be regulated by a completely different professional – one geared to nursing sick people rather than caring for healthy women -without their own voice being heard at all.

There is a huge risk that this will toll the death knell to midwifery as an independent and autonomous profession. becoming subsumed into the nursing profession as another branch of nursing.  This is certainly the way the NMC and the Government legislation is treating midwifery at present and would mean Midwives would lose the status of being THE professional experts in the normal maternal pathway and key care provider. This is not inevitable but as a profession and as parents we must rise up and clearly and strongly oppose  the removal of the midwifery code, the midwifery committee and lack of representation for mothers and midwives at the NMC. The profession has never been in more jeopardy, and never has the care of women and their babies been so much at risk since the formation of the profession of midwifery.  It falls to us to do something about it..

What can I do?
1) There have been several petitions. The writer of this one admits that if it had been less rushed it would be better worded, however, if we want Parliament to take note of the voices of women, midwives and their families then this is a good petition to start the ball rolling, so please do support it. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/178561

2) Share your story of how midwives have helped and supported you. What impact will the lack of access to IMs have on you?  Share on:

Facebook, Save Independent Midwifery page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/443681876022589/

Send to Birthplace Matters who is preparing stories and letters to the NMC through  birthplacematters at yahoo.co.uk

Send them to the saveourmidwvies.co.uk website.

Don’t forget to include permission to share.

3) Tweet!  Use the #savethemidwife hashtag with your messages about how this affects you. You can  tag Jackie Smith of the NMC using @JackieSmith_nmc, and BBC Watchdog (@BBCWatchdog)

4) Write to your MP. The website saveourmidwives.co.uk has important template letters which answer the cut-and-paste responses that most MPs are sending. Find your MP here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

5) Join IMUK, the Independent Midwives’ professional body, as a supporting member. It only costs £20: http://www.imuk.org.uk/professionals/join-imuk/

6) Make a complaint to the NMC. E-mail complaints@nmc-uk.org. They have less than 20 working days to respond. It is important to mention that it’s a formal complaint to ensure that you go straight to Stage 2 of their complaints process. If you don’t like the reply, simply respond back, say you’re not satisfied, why, and then appeal the complaint response, escalating to Stage 3.

7) Many women and Midwives across the UK are using their passion, creativity and skills to support independent midwives and to challenge midwifery regulation to do its work better.  Do what you can with the people you can, and watch this space as more developments are in the pipeline.  Thank you!

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This is NOT “Public Protection”

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC’s) decision to stop Independent Midwives (IMs) from practicing is, in their words, for public protection.

IMUK have clearly stated that they feel that their indemnity policy is sufficient. The NMC have stated that they believe it’s not. They also say that they not in a position to state what would be enough. This in no way supports IMUK and in turn this does not support the public who want or need the services of an IM. This is not “public protection”.

But does medical liability insurance protect the public in any way, even if it is “sufficient”, as IMUK believe?

The definition of malpractice, or medial liability insurance (MLI) is a policy which, “protects health care providers against patients who sue them under the claim that they were harmed by the physician’s negligent or intentionally harmful treatment decisions.” (reference: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/malpractice-insurance.asp)

There is nothing in that definition which is protecting the public. MLI protects the practitioner. This is not “public protection”.

So, what does MLI actually offer? In the case of IMs, in the unlikely situation that an IM makes an error which causes harm to a mother or baby, the indemnity means that if the parents decide to sue the midwife, the midwife will be able to call upon her policy to pay damages to the parents (after a significant amount of legal wrangling which may take years, and in the meantime the mother or child will receive nothing other than the regular state provided care).

If the injury was not caused by an error by the midwife (or the baby is born with a condition which is unrelated to birth, including some cases of cerebral palsy), the parents will have no recourse from the IM’s indemnity policy and will need to rely on the state provision.

If the state provision is not sufficient for the baby or mother who is damaged by an error, it is not sufficient for those for whom there is no one to “blame”. This is not “public protection”.

In addition to this, there is no evidence at all that MLI changes practice. MLI does not mean that practitioners try harder to not make mistakes, nor that they make fewer mistakes. In other words, the same number of mistakes happen whether or not the practitioner holds insurance. This is not “public protection”.

MLI does not protect the public, so let’s stop pretending that that is what this is about.

Because it is not an ideal world . . . .

This week I have had a lot of ‘in an ideal world . . ‘ comments from people talking about midwifery staffing and one to one care.

And I want to say I am fed up of it, I want it to stop and it needs to challenged!

To say that in ideal world we want gold standard one to one midwifery care, is to consign that notion to impossibility.  One to one care IS happening on the NHS now in Liverpool (the Wirral) and elsewhere.  Small puddles in the desert they may be but nevertheless demonstrations of the concept of real world gold standard care.

Yesterday I was at a meeting about where things went badly wrong in maternity service, and the report states that staffing had been an issue on the night and it was clear there was big lack of continuity of care – but it was deemed unchangeable – in comparison to changing the policy to ensure many more women will have a medical birth to ‘save’ this happening again.

In an ideal world was the medical directors comment, and I said “No, its not about an ideal world its about saving women’s lives’

Sisters brothers, comrades in arms, one to one midwifery care, gold standard continuity of carer that provides dignity and time and respect to every woman, saves women’s health, sanity, and their lives.  This kind of midwifery ensures baby gets mothers milk and fathers get support and guidance, this kind of support is called social care and it makes a big difference to families and communities.  And its not for an ideal world because in an ideal world we would not need it – gold standard midwifery care is for the real world because we need it to meet the challenges of healthy birthing and parenting.

Our mantra should be ‘Its not an ideal world  – that’s why we need gold standard one to one midwifery care!

In support of independent midwifery

 It is crunch time and myself, David and Aquabirths as whole has decided to take a stand so that our sisters and daughters and friends may also have the choice of the excellent care of the independent midwife and may be able to obtain this truly holistic midwifery-led care on the NHS.

Join us in writing to your MP. I downloaded the letter from their website at http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/?node=11856 I did but then ended up writing my own – and here it is . . .to inspire and encourage you to do the same ( husband optional!). This is not about what you or I could or would do but about enabling us to have a choice, and have a choice of practice styles, the right to give birth how and where we wish with the professional of our choice.

Changing the way the wind blows

Ruth

Dear Mr Davies

I am writing following on from the Finlay Scott review and in support of the Independent Midwives practising in the UK today. I have had the pleasure and privilege both to work with independent midwives as colleagues and as a client of theirs. IM Michelle Whittle of Yorkshire Storks helped me set up the voluntary support group Choices in Childbirth and facilitated our monthly meetings for 7 years, her colleague IM Jo Twyman has taken over where she left off.

The depth and breadth of their knowledge of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and latest medical evidence has always impressed me, as has their generosity of spirit and professional practice. When birth pool customers tell me their midwives are independent ones I am relieved knowing that they will get all the support, knowledge and skill required to offer them a home waterbirth if it is at all possible.

As a client I chose Michelle Whittle because having had four babies on the NHS we had come to the reluctant conclusion that it was not safe for me to continue having babies within the NHS system. To have the normal and healthy birth and have the support we needed if things did not go well we needed to go to Independent Midwifery. At the time we paid 15% of that year’s income (with four small children) to cover the cost of their care and it was worth every penny for the good birth we all had and not having postnatal depression for the first time in three births.

It has been a grave concern of mine and my husband, that this exemplary care and midwifery good practice would be lost as a choice to the women of the UK through new insurance legislation and a lack of will on the part of policy makers and bureaucrats at Westminster and Whitehall. We are therefore writing to ask, nay demand, that matters are so arranged that these fantastic, highly committed practitioners have the insurance they need to continue to practice as they are currently doing as independent midwives within current guidelines. We also ask that commensurate with their implementation of Maternity Matters and the new Health White Paper, the care of these midwives will be available as a choice for all women via the NHS as alternative willing providers of care.

We should not have had to pay the heavy financial burden to receive that level of care, it should be available on the NHS. We would argue that with their excellent outcomes combined with the reduction in admin and staff costs associated with NHS staff this would be an excellent choice both for women and babies and a cash strapped UK economy. We would ask therefore that you: take the matter forward with the relevant people at the Department of Health, that you keep us informed of developments, and help us lobby effectively for these amazing midwives who deserve accolades rather than brickbats.

With every good wish Mrs Ruth and Dr David Weston Further information can be obtained at http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/?node=11856

Please Note: We write this on a personal level but also as a business partnership committed to providing services for and lobbying for, good births for all women and their babies. We want to add the full weight of our business Aquabirths Ltd and Aquabirths at Home in support of the continuing choice of women to receive care from an IMUK midwife. The outcome of this issue will make no positive difference to our future business (but raising it in this official way could have a negative effect) it is simply because our ethos of promoting the best birth for mothers and babies, demands it.

Birthstory: The gift of a good midwife

This story tells the world why we need professional independent midwves who are with woman and not with the medical systems. Read and be inspired! Then go to www.independentmidwives.org.uk/?node=8765 to find out what you can do to save them.

“Having Michelle there gave me confidence and she did that through allowing me to birth my own way, to be the expert on my own body and not taking that body and not taking that power away from me. “

Birth Story – Owen Conor

Ok, some back story to my choices. My first son was a planned homebirth. He had been three weeks late and I had a real battle with the NHS. I had a really positive 1st stage but a difficult second stage due to him being back to back with the cord wrapped twice around him. I went into hospital afterwards as his apgars were low and it was the most horrendous experience and made me vow to never go in again!

This time round I decided to take no chances with the NHS and booked an independent midwife. Michelle is the most amazing woman, experienced, knowledgeable, calm, confident and utterly convinced that women will labour instinctively and positively if allowed to do so.

Michelle visited the day before Owen was born and we joked that I had decided to labour the next day, after breakfast, and be done before Niall’s bedtime so he could meet his baby brother.
The next morning was a beautiful sunny Saturday. We all got up, had breakfast together and began to potter. At around 10am I had a brief achy feeling in my lower back which made me stand up. I got a few more of these before starting to experience some random tightenings with mild cramps. This made me really hopeful, but I tried not to get too excited. Just after noon we went for a walk to the local shop and they became more frequent, between 5-7 minutes apart but not very intense. I phoned Michelle to let her know that things were starting and agreed to ring when they were more regular. Dermot began assembling and filling the pool and I put the TENS on.

I then started reorganising my kitchen in between contractions! My friend Debbie popped over and joined in with me. Niall went over to a neighbour’s house to play. By 2pm the surges were becoming more intense and regular – every 5 minutes and by 3pm I was making low noises and concentrating with each one. I rang Michelle who said she’d be straight over and then put on some music. At this point I just started dancing. I had a playlist with lots of stuff like Faithless, Basement Jaxx, Chicane, Moby etc. It felt so right just to be dancing round the kitchen, swaying my hips. I had my clary sage oil burning on the work top and bent over that rotating my hips to each contraction, then carried on dancing. I would recommend this to anyone especially as I was later told that belly dancing was originally a birth dance! My system was flooded with endorphins and I felt so high. Both Debbie and Michelle had a dance with me before Debbie went home.

At around 6pm the surges started to be felt more in my lower back and I was asking Michelle and Dermot to put counter pressure to the base of my spine – heaven! At 6.25pm I decided to get in the pool. The warm water was lovely and I got on all 4 fours swinging my hips and lowing with the surges. Both Michelle and Dermot continued with the counter pressure, putting their full weight into it. I’m surprised I’m not bruised back there! Derm told me at one point he released pressure to change position and I growled at him ‘BACK!’ It was the voice of command apparently.

I soon began to feel mounting pressure as Owen began to descend, I stayed very relaxed and made positive noises, saying ‘yes’ and other words of encouragement. My waters eventually went in the pool at 6:55 and were clear. Over the next 15 minutes I could feel Owen’s head moving down and at 7:10 I could feel the top of his head with my hand. The contractions were now very strong expulsive ones and I knew with some help from me I could birth him quickly, however, I was conscious of not wanting to tear and took it very slowly. I talked to him all the way through, telling him what a good boy he was and how well he was doing and what I was doing. I went easy on the next few contractions, easing him out slowly and holding the top of his head. I pushed the sides of my labia over his head and felt him crown. I remember telling him over and over ‘it’s ok’ and I was also telling myself, reminding myself not to panic but to stay calm and relaxed. Two minutes later the next contraction moved his head out and with the next one he was born. He did a bit of a corkscrew and shot out. Michelle pushed him back between my legs and I lifted him out of the water for his first cuddle! Michelle and I blew on his face and talked to him as he cried and gasped a couple of times before breathing and pinking up.

10 minutes later Niall came home and met his little brother for the first time. He seemed quite impressed! Owen and I stayed in the pool together for another hour. Owen latched onto my breast like a pro and had a good half hour feed. At around 8:30 I had still not birthed the placenta and was having lots of cramps. Dermot cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating and had his first skin to skin cuddle with his new son. I eventually turned onto my back and manually removed the placenta. It slid free with a little pressure on the cord. I then got out of the pool to be checked over by Michelle. Owen was weighed and surprised us all by being 9lb 6oz! We’d all guessed lower. Niall’s grandparents took him to theirs for the night and Dermot and Michelle emptied the pool whilst I had a well earned glass of fizz! We were then tucked up in bed together with our little treasure to spend the first of many sleepless nights.

All in all I could not have wished for a better birth experience. I had one small 2nd degree tear but it’s healing nicely on its own. I felt happy and relaxed throughout and this is what made it so manageable. Having Michelle there gave me confidence and she did that through allowing me to birth my own way, to be the expert on my own body and not taking that power away from me. She checked Owen’s heart rate periodically but that was the extent of her intervention (besides the counter pressure).

I would advise anyone wanting a natural birth to look at hiring an independent midwife, they are fantastic. I had great care from the team at Yorkshire Storks throughout my pregnancy, a wonderful birth experience and the post natal care has been outstanding. Michelle made me stay in bed for a week after the birth, and despite my initial reluctance I am so glad I listened. 3 Cheers for babymoons!

Rhian

Michelle can be contacted via Yorkshire Storks Midwifery Practice http://www.yorkstorks.co.uk/ or telephone 01423 360 460

Summoning up the apathy

Is it the time of the month? It could be. But that usual bounce at the end of a holiday with new ideas and new energy for exciting things is not there. I think of that box of 2000 postcards – now less 50 – and groan. What did I say I would do with them all? The thought of accosting 800 people for postcards makes me want to hide under the duvet and sleep for a thousand years.

I know that energy and enthusiasm go in cycles, menstrual cycles as often as not, but it is still depressing when it happens!

Still tomorrow is another day and latest steps forward are:
Visited head of midwifery at local trust, told her about the postcards – she wanted to see some so dropped off 20, this maybe just the start. Told her about the Rikki Lake documentary: the Business of Being Born and wondered if we could have a showing in the Lecture Theatre there. It would be another way of stimulating a discussion about what kind of maternity services we want – ‘not a bad idea’ was the response. So plans are afoot to bring the film into the heart of West Yorkshire – watch this space. I notice that Denis Walsh is going to the showing in blackburn – so it is a quaestion of what we do for ours?

And that is the best enthsuiasm I can muster – until tomorrw perhaps – but not bad eh?

To learn more about the postcard campaign visit www.saveindependentmidwfery.org or sign up to the monthly Choices in Childbirth e-newsletter on www.aquabirthsathome.co.uk ]
Business of Being Born: for preview and national showings go to saveindependentmidwifery.org

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