Monday, 28 October 2013

The Midwife's Bookshelf: Blessings

Current read on my bedside table: Blessing the Way

Ok, hands up - I hate baby showers.  Yes it's all very nice receiving gifts for the baby, but it feels like the nurture for the mother gets lost somehow.  My friend Keeley is a celebrant and we work together to bring my clients who choose one a 'blessing way'.  This beautiful ceremony puts the mother in the centre of the circle of women who come to share their love and support for the 'right of passage' that is to unfold.  This beautiful little book by Janie Rose (a gift from Keeley) celebrates the journey from pregnancy to mother-hood with wonderful verse and illustration.  I love it.

Related reading: if you wish to learn more about creating blessingways, this wonderful book from The Mother Magazine will help you. 

Article of the Week: Meg Taylor, Midwifery Matters (ARM) Autumn 2013
There are occasionally midwives who inspire you to think about midwifery on a very deep level; Meg Taylor was one of those.  This dedication to Meg (who died earlier this year) from her friend and Independent Midwife Elke is moving and beautiful; and alongside it are some of the wise words the Meg shared on the UK midwifery list.  You can also read her writings here.

If you do not subscribe to ARM and the journal Midwifery Matters then perhaps it's now time you did; always interesting, always sharing and always inspiring.

From my personal library : The midwife's labour and birth handbook, Chapman
Being a midwife is a blessing; but there is a lot to learn (and keep learning) in our journey to support women.  This book is a welcome text alongside the likes of the larger 'recommended texts' in midwifery training.  It has a softer, warmer approach to clinical care and provides ideas and thoughts on midwifery knowledge.  As a practising midwife, whenever I am reflecting on an episode of care, or reading around a topic I am thinking about, I use this title to extend my thinking.

What will you add to your midwifery collection?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sharing the knowledge: let us begin.

Midwifery is one of those professions where you develop your skills over time; always learning, always discovering something new, remembering something forgotten, and gleaning knowledge from many sources.

To qualify as a midwife in the UK, you undertake a 3 year full-time course, with a roughly 50% split of theory and practice (practice taking place within the NHS).  You learn drills, you read books, write essays, 'deliver' babies, watch caesarean sections, 'help' women to breastfeed and 'learn' the day-to-day skills of midwifery in the NHS.  This is normally under the watchful eye of a mentor, an experienced midwife who guides you along the way (assuming of course there is not a huge theory-practice gap with what that mentor is teaching you).

Throughout my 3 years as a student I learnt huge amounts, but (as with most professions) many of the skills I have learnt have come with the experience of serving women in childbirth, watching women labour in their own environment without the time constraints of unit policies, and learning to trust even more that the less I 'do', the better the outcome*.  Much of this knowledge was not 'taught' in my training and I believe there is such a strong culture of fear around childbirth, that we tie ourselves up in knots to address unit policies, many of which are not based on the evidence.

So how do we share and spread that innate midwifery knowledge that respects women and the natural process of childbirth, when the practice we are exposed to within the training may (or may not) often sit within the medical mode of childbirth.  How do we give student midwives and newly qualified midwives a glimpse into a different way of approaching birth?  I believe we need to be writing about it, shouting about it, talking about it, and sharing, sharing, sharing.  Of course, this then exposes us to the risk or being 'ridiculed', or worse, intensively scrutinised in our practice; this then moves this innate knowledge back into the 'secret' side of midwifery, and does not enable policies (such as arbitrary time limits in the 2nd stage of labour) to be challenged.

I am planning to 'put myself out there' a bit and start to write about skills and ideas, such as:

  • confirming the onset of labour without vaginal examinations
  • assessing labour progress without vaginal examinations
  • auscultation using a Pinnards or fetoscope
  • facilitating spontaneous 2nd stage without directing women on 'how' to push
  • water birth
  • physiological 3rd stage
  • the effects of energy on the labouring woman
  • assisting a woman with a mal-positioned baby

I invite questions or suggestions for topics, and I am inviting guest blogging midwives to share their knowledge too.  Along with this I also need to add in that 'disclaimer'; that is to say that I am not saying this is the only way to practice, or that it is always appropriate to the woman you are caring for, or that it will sit easily within the trust you may be working within.

I do hope you will enjoy these blogs, and and share and talk about skills with your colleagues, and ultimately develop your own practice in a way that keeps the woman and the process of normal birth central to your care.

angela x

*doing less is of course not to ignore a woman whose labour is changing and will perhaps require help in another way.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”― Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Midwives Bookshelf

Current read on my bedside table: Childbirth and the Future of Homo sapiens. Odent
This is the latest effort from Odent, who was a strong influence in my understanding around hormones, physiology and the effect of those attending the woman before I even started my midwifery.   I am looking forward to exploring the 'future of humanity' and the significance that birth will play in this.

Article of the Week: Holy Meconium: a potted history.  Midirs, October 2103
In this last edition to be edited by the exiting MIDIRS team(!), this excellent article looks at the issue of Meconium Stained Liqour (MSL) and Meconium Aspiration.  The author examines the evidence (or lack of?) that underpins current thinking, provides challenging thoughts around policies for women with MSL in labour, and considers the issues for midwives in practice.  

A reflection on this article will be going into my PREP folder and on my list of topics to research further! 

From my personal library : Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth. Gaskin
If you have not already read any of Ina May's work then you need to make this a priority!  Spiritual Midwifery was my inspiration as a student midwife, and Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth has also become a firm favourite and a recommended read for all my clients (I have several copies I loan to to them) and students attending my workshops.

My favourite chapter is "Sphincter Law" and when I was priveledged enough to visit The Farm, Ina May ran a workshop on this whole topic.  For me, it is the strongest factor in the progress of labour and as Ina herself says "We obey Sphincter Law".

What will you add to your midwifery collection?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Shiney New Blog

I am so excited to feel my bloging fingers return to the keyboard, and am bursting with new ideas for midwifery and birth related posts!  It's been too long.....

I am planning to start 'what I have been reading' posts, sharing what's on my book shelves with you, as well as 'how to 'posts on midwifery skills (primarily aimed at students) and of course my usual reflections on current topics.

Speaking of which, we are in October.  October.... the impending end of Independent Midwifery as we know it.  Of course, as with all things in life, the goal posts have changed and the NMC confirmed this week that there is a delay in the implementation of the new legislation and we now have until February.  In the meantime, IMUK, who have been working incredibly hard over the summer months and have found a product that is a solution to the insurance fiasco, continues to beaver away at getting insurance in place long before that deadline (we very much hope that the dear DoH do their bit and help us on our way) .  You can keep up to date here.

Pretty knitted things
Exciting, turbulent, history changing times lay ahead; and it is down to the passionate and strong midwives and supporters that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Women have always had a strong influence in the course of history; this year was the 100th anniversary of the death of Emily Davison, the suffragette who threw herself under a horse; I feel I am part of a modern suffragette movement (although I am not throwing myself under a horse), not one working to get the vote, but one to get a basic human right to know and choose your midwife as a normal part of the childbearing continuum.  I am a feminist - and rightly proud.  Okay, I am a knitting feminist, and rightly proud.  Okay, I am a knitting, mascara wearing, girl-who-likes-pretty things feminist, and rightly proud.

Mascara wearing midwife on a mission
Anyway world, watch out.  Or you may have a bunch of media wielding, modern suffragettes playing havoc with your his(her)story; and it might not be pretty or knitted.

angela x