I saw his face again #MeToo

When I was 15 years old I was at home with my mum & dad . We had visitors from Monmouth . A couple with their daughter had come to see us all . I was off school doing revision for GCSEs as they were then . This was the 1970s .

My dad was quite proud of the fact that to support my mum’s recovery from cancer , they had bought a house away from our shop. My dear mum always craved a front door of her own and her dream had come true. My mum and dad were in the garden with the wife and daughter of the man that had visited us. I was in the kitchen washing up after making a cake.

Suddenly I felt this man behind me & grabbing me – i’m not going to go into detail of it all. I turned around pushed him away and I kicked him so hard between his legs that he fell to the ground . He was a tall strong man I weighed about 7 stone and I was no muscle machine . I shouted out .

What transpires will shock you because I ran upstairs and refused to come out of my bedroom. I was a wilful teenager and going through that 15 year olds know better – and I’m glad I was as this probably saved me from a worse fate. I knew that this mans behaviour was wrong.

About two hours later (after my family had eaten – I was left with no food and was in disgrace ) my mum came up to the room to ask me to come downstairs to say goodbye to the guests. All I remember her saying was “please don’t upset your dad because this man helped us a lot when we had a crash in our car before you were born” I told my mum what happened to me and she recoiled in horror. She understood that I couldn’t go downstairs. However, my father saw it in a different light . He didn’t speak to me for a week and in fact we never spoke of the incident again. Just recently my older sister found some old photographs and one of them was of this.man standing with my dad next to my dads badly damaged car. The day they had met . This man was smoking a pipe and he had an air of arrogance about him in the photograph.

I felt so angry looking at his face and wondered what he said to his wife and daughter to explain the fact that I’d never come downstairs again.

I’m writing this because it’s taken me 43 years to speak about this publicly .

To all the fathers out there believe your daughters to all the mothers out there help others to believe your daughters

#MeToo

Jenny

Fear of Birth – A Poem

I didn’t want a labour -everyone in my family knew

I did want a baby though

-my desperate feeling was not new.

I’d always been nervous,fainted at the sight of blood

told myself time and again that at birthing I’d be no good

My husband eventually won me round

We started trying for a baby but my mind couldn’t rest

So many ifs and buts and a maybe

we were pleased when we found out the positive test,

Inside my body though I felt so stressed

I had a tightness in my chest

I almost wanted to shout & shriek (no one seemed to listen)

I tried to talk about Caesarean birth with health professionals through the weeks

-somehow they didn’t hear me -I felt soft , so ridiculous so weak.

I couldn’t express my feelings, my fear of giving birth

I felt anxiety would pass to my baby -I had no sense of worth .

I went into labour I was scared and full of fear

my husband and my mother were with me it helped me to have them near

I failed to express myself to the doctors that I just couldn’t do it

But it was as if my words couldn’t come out- I truly almost blew it .

What happened next was down to the perception of my midwife

She saw the turmoil I was in recognised my inner strife

She stood side by side with me , told the Drs what I’d said

She was my birthing advocate – my saviour through the dread

A plan was made they’d finally noted every word I’d spoken

I was going to have a Caesarean section it was as if I had awoken

Don’t presume my fear had simply run away

I was worried ,scared and still not quite sure what to say

During the birth I could not look or speak or move

But when I held my baby skin to skin I was overwhelmed with love

My child was born and passed to me – I had achieved so much

And to the midwife that heard me through the tears – THANK YOU – for your listening touch

You really made a difference to me and my family

I don’t know how I’d have coped if you hadn’t stood side by side with me

@JennyTheM 16.5.18

Dedicated to Yana Richens OBE @Fearofbirth on Twitter for raising the profile of women who have fear of birth and for teaching Midwives and future Midwives strategies to help women ❤️ thank you ❤️

Jenny’s mutterings , midwives childcare and 12.5 hour shifts ….

This blog is for #70MidwifeBloggers and I was inspired to write it by my two grown up children . When I look at them and the way they treat other people I always think “you did good Jen”

I have worked in the NHS for almost 40 years , so I was IN IT for ten years before I became a parent .

When my daughter was 6 months old I returned to work as a Ward Sister on a medical ward in Oldham Hospital (now Penine Acute Trust) . Part of the reason for my return to work was to prove to myself that I could be a good mummy and a good nurse. I have always liked a challenge and do I regret my decision ? Yes and No is the answer .

When I first thought about child care for my daughter there was no “on site” hospital nursery. Both my parents had died when I was younger. To go back to work meant I was driving 25 miles each way to start at 7.30am – was I mad ?

I was blessed – I found Gaynor a former nurse who totally understood my predicament. I managed to get my daughter ready put her in the car drop her off at Gaynor’s house and pick her up after work . I chose Gaynor as she was close to the hospital and I instantly connected with her . When I was on a late shift which ended at 21.00 I’d get to Gaynor’s to find my daughter ready for bed and a breastfeed and then I’d feed her at Gaynor’s house , pop her into the car (yes I had a car seat ) and drive home . Lots of times I arrived to find washing done for me / a meal to eat / a cup of tea / a hug and a huge welcome . Gaynor was also a mum and her children loved my daughter as much as she loved them . One particular thing about Gaynor was that her mum and dad owned a nursing home ( we are talking traditional family run home full of love , activities and good food – this was 1989)

Gaynor regularly took my daughter to the nursing home with her and she made the residents day – I also went to the home and felt like I’d grown a new family – his lucky we were .

My son was born 5 years later and I was also lucky with his childcare – he went to Maureen who I met when I had to find childcare in a new area to start my midwifery in 1991 and she became Auntie Maureen to both my children .

My blog is really to raise awareness of working mothers and fathers in the NHS and my question is this —

“Do 12 hour shifts have a negative impact on families NHS workers family love and home dynamics of NHS workers ? In fact if someone works a 12 hour shift they probably get up at 6am and get home around 10pm or later – that’s 16 hours of being up and active / put another day into that = 32 hours then three long days together = 48 hours – do you see where I’m coming from ?

If a child does not see its own parent for three whole days does it have attachment implications ? Has anyone done any research on this ?

IMO the 12 hour shift is seen as a money saving initiative for the NHS – 6 shifts covered in three days – bargain !!

However a bargain ain’t a bargain unles you can prove it saves money.

I hear both many sides to the arguments about 12 hour shifts but I also hear of staff who work 12 hour shifts “pacing” themselves , resting more on shift and I wondered if those working 8 hour shifts ever thought of “pacing” themselves at work ?

More research and evidence is coming out about long shifts , that they can be a contributing factor in thyroid disease, cancer , heart disease , burn out and long term sick . Perhaps it’s time to analyse data on nursing and midwifery sick leave to see if the NHS sick leave has improved or worsened since 12 hour shifts became a “thing” .

I have juggled child care most of my children’s lives and thank fully it’s been ok – even the time I caught one so called childminder pushing my daughter across a busy road by placing my three year old daughter across a pram!! I was actually a driver on that road (working as a community Midwifery student ) , so I went straight to her house and removed my daughter then & there . I rang my community manager in tears and she gave me two days of compassionate leave to help me arrange new childcare, this is how I stumbled onto Maureen – she embraced both my children into her family and like me she loved art and baking , so my children saw her home as an extension of mine .

Anyway I’d just like the NHS to seriously consider why going back to short shifts might be the answer – it also costs more to pay a 12.5 hour Midwife as if she works both Saturday and Sunday her after tax salary can be from £600 upwards more than someone working short shifts – so think again NHS

The 4 days that the long shift staff do not cover need to be covered – whereas when we all worked 8 hour shifts some staff would volunteer to stay late – this is impossible and dangerous on a long day .

thank you for reading

Yours in love and light ,

Jenny ❤️

Happy 70th Birthday NHS: and to all who work in it – go eat cake 🎂 . A blog by Val Finigan

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Happy 70th Birthday NHS:and to all who work in it-go eat cake 🎂
A beautiful blog by @ValFinigan

I can’t believe that the NHS has reached a 70 year milestone and that I have been part of this amazing service for 40 years. I saw the twitter feed asking for midwives to write a Blog to celebrate the NHS and its achievements over the years and I decided that I would like to be a part of this. Of course, I am not a Blog person and so I sought expert help from the lovely @JennyTheM who always like me, says yes (so hugs Jenny and remember “together, we always achieve”). I have been proud to work in the NHS, to wear my Consultant Midwife’s lanyard with pride. Indeed, I am immensely proud of the NHS Constitution and values and of NHS staff commitment to deliver a quality service regardless of demands made on them.
My career in the NHS started in 1978 when I became an Auxiliary Nurse caring for the elderly and my full time service almost ended in 2017 when I retired from position of Consultant Midwife for infant feeding. It has been an amazing journey and a privilege to be part of so many people’s lives, helping women to bring babies into the world and at the other end of life –supporting with compassion and care, those who are leaving.
I have worked in many different roles and positions which I feel empowered me, enabling me to understand everyone’s role and the part they play in the NHS as a whole. Sadly, I am not sure that all senior people have this same journey or focus and not everyone is aware of individual roles and how collectively they underpin NHS effectiveness and efficiency. T

This is important as the large wheel will not turn without all of the little cogs functioning. and that is why all NHS staff must be supported, be valued and be cared for must

This is important as the large wheel will not turn without all of the little cogs functioning and that is why all NHS staff must be supported, be valued and be cared for as in the NMC code ( CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE NMC CODE    )

 

To achieve this, you must:
8.1 respect the skills, expertise and contributions of your colleagues, referring matters to them when appropriate
8.2 maintain effective communication with colleagues
8.4 work with colleagues to evaluate the quality of your work and that of the team
8.5 work with colleagues to preserve the safety of those receiving care
8.6 share information to identify and reduce risk, and
8.7 be supportive of colleagues who are encountering health or performance problems. However, this support must never compromise or be at the expense of patient or public safety.
I look back with emotional pride; I remember the first time that I lovingly ironed my uniform and then proudly placed the nurse’s cap on my head. I was in Utopia and I had achieved my dream. My parents had saved to buy me a fob watch engraved with my name and a silver buckle and belt and I still have them today.
I was fortunate enough to be given many opportunities to develop. I became an Enrolled nurse in 1978 and worked in paediatrics and infectious diseases. When Project 2000 came in, I re-trained to become a RGN and worked as a staff nurse on cleft lip and palate and also within general nursing roles.
I didn’t understand the political aspects that have driven my career pathways until much later when I entered the world of academia at University of Salford and considered this. Like most nurses and midwives’ my time in the NHS has involved life-long learning and development. Here I went from the Langley dunce to a BA (Hons) and then to a PhD achiever. Now who would have believed that I could have achieved that?
I qualified as a midwife almost 30 years ago and then specialised, becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, taking 4 hospitals to UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation and sharing research globally on women’s experiences of immediate skin-to-skin contact from diverse population groups. We celebrated our teams’ achievements in style, with Elle McPherson presenting the award and talking to mothers and cuddling babies.
The emotional context of midwifery is fundamental, midwives need to have emotional awareness in order to deliver care sensitively, and also be able to acknowledge and respond to women’s feelings. Elle McPherson could have been a midwife; I was impressed at her sensitivity and respectful stance on women’s rights to best care. It was impressive to see her give her bouquet of flowers, a hug and a tear shed when a local Asian mother (who had delivered her baby prematurely) was separated from it whilst it received neonatal care.
I helped to care for the first HIV positive patient admitted to Monsall Hospital, Manchester in the 80s(which has now been demolished) and I trained to care for patients that had Lassa fever which was quite a scary thing to do back then and involved caring for the patient in a sealed unit-a bubble.
In my later days (once I had grown a brain) I helped the Manchester HIV team develop the first guidelines to support breastfeeding for HIV positive women and I held the first motion for this at the CHIVA conference in Manchester (which was very frightening as many renowned HIV experts were present). Sometimes we have to be brave (‘Courage butter’, JennyTheM, would say) without courage change will never happen-someone has to be brave enough to take the first step and ask “can we”, “should we”, “what is the evidence for and against”, “how do we start this journey together”, “will this make a difference?” Better Births and the Midwifery Transformation agenda are the new movement where midwives and the government are considering change-change that will fundamentally , hopefully, put women at the centre of ‘personalised care’.
I have seen so many changes come and go in the NHS 70 years ;often to be replaced with similar changes –just with a different name (‘Changing Childbirth’ to ‘Better Births’, being the latest example). Yet I also have proudly witnessed the compassion, care and tireless commitment to the NHS given by midwives and nurses who continue to deliver the best care whilst being under immense pressures and challenges. There is a lack of funding and still we are 3500 midwives short across the UK.
Sadly I have also seen many experienced and talented nurses and midwives leave a service they truly love because they can no longer function well under the pressures of systems.
When I first retired from the NHS, I was adrift. I was shocked at the overwhelming loss I felt and sadly there was nowhere to turn for support. I was angry at myself, all that training, learning and now both it, and I had no value. The problem with being a midwife is that once you take on the role it becomes you, not a part of you.
Thankfully, my story does not end there. Now I am looking back through a different lens and with a rush of positivity embracing my soul. I am back, resilient like our NHS, doing what I was trained to do, and what I do best; serving the public, caring and providing support. The NHS is a UK flagship-I have no doubt it will continue, the scary bit-is what changes have to happen next to allow this.
I now work in the Urgent Care services where I continue to use my nursing and midwifery knowledge and skills wisely. I am working with and alongside of women, babies and families, providing evidence based care and advice in pregnancy, motherhood and for infant feeding and also for a wide variety of other illnesses; and for people of all ages. The hours are flexible and therefore offer a work –home live balance that evaded me in my full time role. In this service I am valued and my talents are fully utilised.
Happy birthday NHS and congratulations to the hard working workforce (cleaner to Chief Executive) that make those tiny cogs turn to deliver such a fantastic service.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog . with love ,

Val

Making a sacred space for birth

This blog is inspired by the women I have cared for as a Midwife and also the wonderful Spirituality and Childbirth book book by & Dr Susan Crowther and Dr Jenny Hall . The women I have met and cared for in my midwifery career have helped me to invent new ways of working for and with them.This experience has shown me that in order to achieve a special birth experience we must be connected with the woman . The value of approaching each woman with a different perspective but the same professional compassionate values regardless of their mode of birth is the core of individualised care .

It’s taken me all my midwifery career to reach this point and I am still evolving.

Making a sacred space for women and birth is something that we should all consider as midwives. How many times do we enter a room of birth to find the light shining brightly the window blinds up, the CTG machine on full volume and the sounds of the hospital permeating into the room ? Who has the right to enter the birth room ? Perhaps now is the time to talk about consent and to ask women whether they want people to come in and out of their room for non-essential reasons such as trying to find equipment or the medicine cupboard keys . Do your labour wards and your birth centre rooms have a curtain after the door to maintain the dignity and privacy of the woman and her partner and to keep the sacred space? Are the room, it’s people and contents treated as “our” (Midwives and obstetricians ) space or as the woman’s (family , partner , newborn) space. Do we GIVE the space to the woman she enters the room? Saying “this is your room , this is your space I am your guest” or is it seen that we take control of the area ? What exactly is the solution? . I think one of the answers is to start by questioning ourselves as to how we are behaving. There are guidelines to help us give evidence based care and evidence shows that dark quiet rooms , aromatherapy , touch and the continuous presence of a midwife are all beneficial for women in labour as they give birth . How do we transfer this to a birth in the operating theatre or an area where women with a higher chance of intervention are cared for ?

Do we need a new guideline that encompasses making a sacred space ? I think so .

We must celebrate that midwifery care is still an essential core aspect of birth in the U.K. and share our stories . To summarise the work of Dr Trish Greenhalgh – each person we care for shows us new evidence and this can be individual evidence – it doesn’t need to be large scale. Therefore if your compassionate care works then that’s your evidence .

My tips for making a sacred space are

  • Explain to the woman why a newborn appreciates a peaceful place to arrive in
  • Ask about aromatherapy try to stick with no more than three essential oils as using more can dilute the effect
  • Look at the lighting in birth rooms – can the lights be dimmed – find a lamp to give you some light for record keeping
  • Take all that’s required into the room and make yourself an area that does not intrude into the woman’s space but that also increases your time in the room
  • If the Drs come into the room and require extra lighting turn it down after that requirement ends and try to use local lighting instead of general lighting
  • Use a drape in theatre to create a skin to skin tent where the new family can bond and take photos and don’t leave them to do your notes – do that later . Keep a check on the mums and baby’s condition regularly.
  • Use massage to help increase the woman’s own oxytocin levels and darkness will also enhance the melatonin / oxytocin effect .
  • Stay calm and talk quietly – try not to disrupt the woman’s hormones which are affected by noise .
  • A sacred space means comfort , calm , love and kindness must be tangible within that area – it’s not about the space as much as the atmosphere- the way you help a woman to achieve this will have a long lasting positive effect not only on her self value but also impact you in your own practice in a wonderful way .

Please think carefully wether you are a hormone disruptor or a hormone enabler .

Be a true Midwife .

This blog is not to tell you how to be but to provoke thought on our practice and try to help you and others to see how we can effect a positive change for women in their birth settings

Thank you for reading

Yours in midwifery love 💕

Jenny ❤️

Postnatal transfer to the ward from labour ward – my thoughts

A DM (Direct Message) on Twitter is a message you receive from someone that no one else can see – apart from the people included in the message.

In the past four weeks I have received 7 DMs from a mixture of midwives , future midwives and women all with the same subject matter . This subject is mainly about ‘who decides when a woman is transferred from the room she gave birth in to the postnatal ward’ This seems to be a hot topic at the moment as the variation in time from birth to transfer is huge – especially when comparing Caesarean birth transfers to other birth transfers (and it might surprise you to know that the variation in birth to transfer time to the ward for women who have Caesarean birth is also vast – some units care for these women on the labour ward until their spinal has worn off , some units transfer to ward within a short time in recovery which leads me to question that support with breastfeeding must be patchy).

Just the other week at Salford University Midwifery Society Conference ‘Transforming Birth’ click HERE for a summary of the day – I asked a question to the audience “are you, as future midwives pressured to move women to the postnatal ward (after they have birthed their babies) faster than the women themselves would like or you as a future autonomous practitioner would like ?” The result was that over 80% said YES.

Do we as Midwives consider our own autonomy enough when we are working ? In order to give the woman a sense of feeling cared for and nurtured individualised, compassionate, holistic midwifery is paramount . Each woman is different- some may prefer a rapid transfer , others may not . Some women may need extra support to establish breastfeeding or be debriefed post birth or some women may want to rest in a quiet place with minimal noise before they are moved to the ward . If a birth takes place in a birth centre which doesn’t focus on time , women will stay in the same room post birth until their discharge home.

In the NHS patient care sadly revolves around the concept of time . If a patient is not seen , admitted or discharged within a four hour time frame (see photo below ) it is considered a “breach”

Certain procedures have a standard time frame in which so many can be done – this is how operating theatre lists are generated and how the NHS deals with waiting lists .

However birth is and must be a positive experience – even though it has coding costs and some births are planned to the day -we must give women more than they expect – stand up for them , be their advocates. Challenging the system is one of the ways we can make change happen – if we all accept each day “this is the way we do this” we cannot be developing our roles or our practice to improve woman centred care . I’m not saying it’s easy but I want you to imagine what care you would want for your sisters and your daughters ? Then give the women THIS care – I am in the NHS as I nursed my own mother until her death at home – I see the connection between care at birth and care at death . I have been a nurse to the dying and that experience has impacted on the care I give to women in a most human way .

Whatever care you give , whether you transfer a woman in your fastest time or not is all rather irrelevant when you focus on the bigger picture – YOU are responsible for the care you provide , or you don’t provide -if you tell a student to do something that is YOUR responsibility and I suggest referring to this NMC publication which I look at each day The NMC CODE . If advice or suggestions are not kind , caring and have a direct clash with your duty of care , if a more senior Midwife tells you to do something this should be documented in the notes and be evidence based, kind and resonate with your trust guidelines plus the NMC code.

Sometimes we are stretched short staffed , rushed and under pressure but at no point should this be the woman’s problem.

So the next time you are preparing a woman for transfer to a ward just think

  • Have I given her & her partner enough time alone with their newborn
  • Have I helped initiate feeding
  • Am I rushing her ?
  • Do I feel under pressure ?

Then if necessary give her some more time – and when you arrive on the ward give continuity of care to the woman and her newborn by transferring in SkinToSkin contact , admitting them both to the ward environment yourself , taking and recording observations , checking the woman’s pad and fundus ,getting the woman a drink and this will also help your colleagues on the ward immensely.

❤️Be a holistic professional caring Midwife ❤️

Thank you to the student of Salford University and those who DM’d me on Twitter – you inspired this blog

Thank you for reading

Yours in midwifery love

JennyTheM

❤️

Birth imprinting – SkinToSkin contact

As a child is born to a mother there are emotional , hormonal, physical and psychological needs that are satisfied when SkinToSkin contact occurs and these will give both short and long term health benefits to mother and child .

A mother should be the first person to touch her newborn and that is one of the reasons that midwives should wear gloves. The mother’s skin will imprint the newborn with her smell, touch and love – the newborns face, smell and skin will imprint onto the mother and these are processes which are golden moments not to be missed .

If a mother is feeling unwell or anaesthetised the midwife should hold the newborn next to the mother’s skin for her , taking photographs with the mother’s phone or camera will enable the first sight of the baby to be saved and also surpass consent issues around photographs- the parents can then choose what they show to others and what they keep .

A Midwife is the woman’s and the newborn’s advocate and it’s crucial that the Midwife finds a way to involve the second parent in skin to skin contact somehow after the mother has held her newborn for a sufficient time to enable the first breastfeed .

If a woman wants to breastfeed once this has the benefit of giving colostrum as a gut protector and immuniser- colostrum contains immunoglobulin.

In cases of premature birth courage , knowledge, dexterity and skill are needed to enable skin to skin to take place . The value of collaboration (as discussed by @CharleneSTMW at a recent MatExp event at Warwick Hospitals cannot be understated – all members of the team must be aware of the benefits of SkinToSkin contact at Caesarean or instrumental birth .

We must all sing from the same sheet and share the same values so that everyone agrees that skin to skin with mother takes place before any other intervention .

Skin to skin is not an intervention it is something as natural as putting your key into your front door without thinking about it . However it seems that women and newborns are in a postcode lottery – where you live and which hospital you attend for your birth can determine and influence your chance of skin to skin .

I receive many requests from midwives from the NHS and across the world asking me to help them overcome barriers to facilitating skin to skin contact within their workplaces especially in the operating theatre . Some are stopped by anaesthetists, obstetricians , some ridiculed as strange by their colleagues and told “it’s not happening here” . We must remember that nothing is final and show the evidence which is growing by the day that skin to skin contact is not something that can be measured , it’s a primitive response which comes as second nature to a new mother – if that mother is out of her comfort zone she won’t have the strength or courage to question why – that’s OUR JOB !

Many ago I recall being told by some midwives “it won’t be happening – it’s too complicated ” and now I smile as I see midwives like @jenistevenssts in Australia studying skin to skin in the operating theatre for her PhD thesis, NICE GUIDANCE CG190 even includes SkinToSkin thanks to midwives like @drtraceyc who campaigned for its involvement and birth activist @millihill writing about it in her book (picture below)

The priceless value SkinToSkin is spreading across the world and if it’s not happening I’d like YOU to question why

This blog is dedicated to my mum Dorothy Guiney 22.2.1925 – 22.9.1978 ❤️