Why blog ? Why not? 

In February 2014 I made a conscious decision to start blogging . I did this primarily to spread the word about skin to skin contact for women who give birth in the operating theatre .

At this point I did not consider that I would gain in a positive emotional sense from writing a blog . Nor did I envisage that I would connect with other ‘bloggers’  or have my blog featured in  Teresa Chinn’s chapter  “Roar Behind The Silence” edited by Sheena Byrom and Soo Downe (about why kindness care & compassion matter in maternity services) 

My blog helps me to reflect on my working day , contemplate midwifery/maternity services , talk about the NHS and it enables me to voice my own feelings by “speaking” to others – ‘others’ who are free to choose whether or not they read my blog . I write each entry without a plan – I simply sit on my sofa , contemplate my own thoughts and start to write . Blogging will also go towards my own Revalidation with the NMC click  Here  for more information 

My blog on Courage Butter Courage Butter (a term which Tony Longbone thought of – thankyou Tony)   was spotted by Jane Cummings Chief Nurse and led to a co-published article with Jane to help health professionals consider their own courage within the NHS workplace . 

I suppose what I’m trying to say is blogging gives me a voice and also teaches me about myself . People like Sheena Byrom , John Walsh , Dr Alison Barrett, Leigh Kendall  , Annie Cooper, Gill Phillips, Emma Jane Sasaru, Dr Kate Granger, Natalie Corden , Anthony Longbone , Teresa Chinn , Helen Calvert and lots of others. These people all help me to develop and feel inspired not only in the way that I write , but how I see others. Writing also helps me to contemplate the workings of the NHS and change management . 

Blogging is my release , it’s my shout  or my whisper , it’s my cup of tea at the end of my day. Writing a blog helps to clear my mind and helps me to move forwards within my role as a NHS Midwife 

So my advice to you is to read some blogs , think about writing your own – start with a “blogshot” which is a screen shot of thoughts tweeted as a picture – you might be surprised at how much it will help you and others . 

Thankyou for reading 

❤️ Jenny ❤️

Change #JustDoItJuly #MatExp

How do we effect change ? Why do we want change ? 

Life is change , we are born we grow we learn we change 

By standing still and failing to embrace change we will experience the world rushing  on by – we are left behind trying to reach out and catch up with everything that we have missed  . 

Let’s rewind to the days of old when I started my career in the NHS …… 

The ward sister instructs me to pull the curtains around each bed on the nightingale ward . This is in preparation for the consultants ward round . No visitors , silence , even the patients who are not under the care of this consultant must be on their beds . The beds are all exactly the same , the lockers are devoid of any personal touch and the nurses walk with the procession of doctors – I am one of these nurses and there is fear in my heart – I dare not speak out – the consultant throws a set of case notes into the air in anger . He is annoyed by the way the notes have been filed – I stoop to pick the papers up – no one speaks – I feel so angry inside that such an influential person could put an object before the priority of a patient . I feel myself wondering how I will behave once I qualify as a nurse . 

Fast forward to the 21st century – the ward round is more relaxed Drs chat to staff about the weather , there is equality , everyone’s voice is heard including the people who are being seen , the women, the men – even families present during the ward round . 

Change in the NHS must keep happening

staff must evolve in order that the care they give to patients is based on research and evidence – not just their own opinion.

Inconsistent advice must be questioned in order that communication improves for everyone – the positive effects of a human approach should be shouted out from the rooftops so that warmth and kindness can spread like the warmth of the sun after the rain. 

We are human – we are only here for a short time – so in that time lets keep changing and let’s embrace change with a happy heart – question processes that have stood still for a while – don’t accept “That’s the way we have always done it ”  Instead look at it like this “Change is good change is now & change is the future ” 

Consider your action for change – my action for “Just DO it July” is to stop weighing babies within the first two hours of life – unless there is a valid indication  – for babies and women this will mean more skin to skin time and an increase in the success of an early breastfeed 

What’s your change going to be ? 

Helping one another – and washing feet 👣

As a midwife I try to be amenable to others within my place of work 

I see helping others as offering help , making a cup of tea for them, checking they have had a break and making sure they are going home on time, sometimes staying behind to help them . Helping and supporting also means recognising when someone seems a bit stressed or not their usual self . This may manifest in the way they speak or a lack of interaction – we as midwives should be teaching future midwives how to recognise body language and verbal cues from co-workers as this will help us recognise the same in the women we care for . 

Asking someone “are you ok now?” As you walk out of a room away from them does not help them to reply or interact – it is your opinion and in fact rhetorical – if you are leaving them with significant work to complete so that you can return to something less important you should consider whether your action or inaction is in fact “teamwork” or “colleague centred support” as I call it 

We also need to consider that leaving  a woman in labour in a room or a woman who is just starting her first breastfeed is in fact not teamwork either – the woman and family  are also part of the team 

What I’m trying to say is help one another – it’s a good feeling to complete notes with a colleague for the good of the woman . The midwife you’re helping will have more time to be “with woman” . Care is not just physical it’s emotional , psychological and care is record keeping , cleaning , preparing a new space for the family – it’s making toast , hugging a colleague and care is a way we show love kindness & compassion to others 

So the next time you go into a room to answer a buzzer for a woman or a midwife who is with women don’t presume in your mind “they’re ok now ” and walk away look at the full picture – ask with direct eye contact “how else can I help you my friends?” Enter into the room take stock of the situation and use positive body language and a happy face 

The next time you arrive to your shift make sure the person you are taking over from knows you are there to relieve her at the end of her shift – be helpful “I can finish that ” give the other midwife  your full attention and let the family see your kind heart. 

If we give and display consideration to others each and every day we can only make things better within the NHS 

The other day I met a women who was very stressed and she had been in hospital unable to have a proper wash (by this I mean bath or shower ) for three days – I remembered my nurse tutor Mrs Valentines words from 1980 when I started my nursing “cleanliness is an intrinsic part of physical & mental well being” so I asked the woman if she would like to wash her feet – she was thrilled and in fact I washed her feet – she opened up to me about her stress and said it calmed het down & she relaxed for the first time for days . I HAD made time to do this – it took 15 minutes – the discussion we had also helped the Drs to understand more about her condition. The woman also laughed when a Dr came in to see me kneeling on the floor drying the woman’s feet. She said it was the first time she’d laughed for days – it was SO worth it . 

I’m not too proud to wash someone’s feet – I’ve been in the NHS over 35 years and know that this act is not just about the ‘feet’it’s about getting to know the woman I am caring for – so symbolically it’s important that we all wash each other’s feet on a regular basis be kind to colleagues be kind to women be kind to families 

Thank you for reading 

Jenny ❤️

Skin to Skin “Declined” 

  

  • When a woman gives birth and the birth is complicated , skin to skin contact can help her to re-centre on the beautiful relationship with her baby/babies. The way that midwives discuss skin to skin can and does have an impact on a woman’s decision – evidence shows that skin to skin contact at birth by ceasarean section is rising every day and I’d like to argue that it is not an ‘offer’ to be taken up or not – SKIN to SKIN is indeed a human right . 
  • Declining something means that the choice to “not accept” has been fully explained -I.E the effects of NOT having  skin skin contact have been fully explained as much as the effects of HAVING skin to skin contact  
  • Asking a woman if she “wants” skin to skin is not an invite or a request – it is one of the rights of a newborn and a mother  

Recently I met a woman who has post traumatic stress disorder relating to her first birth . She has inspired me to write this blog and I am so glad that I met her . Whilst she was receiving support for her birth trauma she requested to see her notes and was horrified to read “Offered SKIN to SKIN contact with newborn – same declined” this was several years ago and this woman tells me that she still remembers how she felt when she read those words for the first time “like a bad mother” 

So what am I tying to say ? 

  • Be careful how you phrase a question – put your heart and soul and kindness into it
  • Be gentle with women – if you say “if you hold your baby close  I will help you & stay nearby – you will probably adore skin to skin contact and if you don’t dad / second mum could do it instead 
  • Please don’t use the word DECLINED 

Thank you for reading – Jenny ❤️