Saturday, 28 March 2015

A week in the life

This week has been a very special week for me as an IM, and I was very honoured and privileged to receive third place in the BJM Community Midwife of the Year awards.

It was a spectacular evening hosted by the British Journal of Midwifery and a real highlight in the midwifery year; a time when midwives from all arenas can be acknowledged for all the hard work they do - and a wonderful opportunity to wash of the placenta and booby milk, get dressed up, and let our hair down!

Being an independent midwife is hard work; there is an awful lot that goes on behind the scenes and being on call 24/7 is not always easy.  It is however incredibly rewarding, and after heading up to collect my certificate on Monday night, I was reminded of some of the really hard times over the past few years when IMUK worked hard to retain independent midwifery and the right for women to choose.  During that time, I made a 'Week in the Life' video to use at an IMUK open day to highlight the work we do and the way we do it.  I am really pleased to share this video with you now:

I love being a midwife (mostly) and do feel very privileged to work in this way.  I am not sure that being on-call will be right for me forever, and I do grow weary of it at times.  However, I think that probably applies to many of the different midwifery avenues that are out there: any job that gives of yourself can lead to burn out and fatigue - which is why it is so important that we look after ourselves - and are looked after (Jeremy Hunt take note).

So thank you BJM for my award, thank you women for sharing your lives with me, and thank you to everyone who supported the campaign to save IM's and kept us going!

angela xx

"Midwives are best placed to make a real difference in the woman's overall experience - and I am privileged when I get invited in by the family to provide that care"
Angela Horler 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Midwife's Bookshelf: Waterbirth

Currently on my bedside table  Water Birth

Most hospitals now offer water immersion and waterbirth as an option for women. The hospital I trained at even has one available for women to use on its consultant-led labour ward (although I have to say that I hope it is being used more now than it was when I was a student...!). Waterbirth was introduced to the UK in the 1980s, and we have learnt more and more about the benefits of labouring and giving birth in water since then. I am currently reading Milli Hill's new book on the subject, which is an absolute delight to read whether you are a midwife or a pregnant woman considering the use of water in labour. It is made up of stories, many from women who birthed their babies in water, but it also includes some other perspectives: an interesting one for me was a 13-year-old describing her experience of being present at the home waterbirth of her baby sister. All of the stories convey a sense of the birth pool as being a 'protected space' - a place where the labouring woman is completely in control of her own body and experience.

Article of the week  Kathryn Kelly: Raising a quizzical eyebrow: the language of birth (Essentially MIDIRS, March 2015)

Not directly about waterbirth - but a very thought-provoking piece on the use of language in Essentially MIDIRS this month. The article identifies some common phrases and terms used by midwives and doctors which can affect the relationship between birth professional and pregnant/labouring woman - and in particular can subtly undermine a woman's belief in her own body. Seemingly innocent words such as 'allow' ("am I allowed to get in the pool yet?") , 'need' ("she needs an epidural") and 'just' ("I'm just going to break your waters") take control away from women and reinforce professional hegemony. I strive to ensure that the language I use is supportive and not authoritarian, but this article is a little reminder to be aware of the power of the words we choose.

From my personal library  Denis Walsh: Evidence and Skills for Normal Labour and Birth

This book is a must-have for any student or midwife. During my midwifery training, it gave me enough confidence to question certain practices which I knew to be non-evidence based and encouraged me to always question why something is (or isn't) being done. Denis Walsh looks at the available research on everything from place of birth and fetal heart monitoring to second stage rituals and care of the perineum. The evidence on each topic is discussed and appraised in simple terms which would make it easy for a layperson to understand - although it is aimed at midwives, I have lent this book to a few pregnant friends who have found it invaluable. The book includes a chapter on water immersion and waterbirth, and Walsh covers the therapeutic, physiological and psychosocial benefits of waterbirth before moving on to some very practical recommendations for practice.   

Which will you add to your midwifery collection?

Tami xx

North Surrey Midwives Tami and Angela are experienced in waterbirth, and provide birthing pools and liners for our clients to use should they choose a home waterbirth.