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The operating theatre tea party – read on to find out more 

This week I was lucky enough to be in the multi-disciplinary team involved in the care of women pre peri and post – Caesarean section . 

Lucky you say ? Aren’t midwives supposed to only be focused on PHYSIOLOGICAL  birth ? well yes that’s one of our roles but we also care for women in the antenatal period – we run triage clinics with the fab support of a skilled maternity support worker – running tests on women then contacting the Dr for advice with the results – pure team work . We also care for women in labour who have complex medical needs , complex mental health issues and we work WITH the obstetric team to find the best plan of care – we do this together with the woman’s input . I am proud of everyone I work with – they give me hope . We also work on birth centres and attend pool births . We are community midwives we attend home births , we support women who have safeguarding issues , women who live under the threat of Domestic violence and women who have disabilities. We manage wards , units , we are heads of midwifery , we are ward midwives , labour ward midwives , specialist midwives  and we are mothers , fathers ,single women/men  , gay women/men  , straight women/men  , married men/women , we are spinsters / bachelors but most of all we are HUMAN BEINGS .  

Each birth I see means a lot to me as a woman, a midwife and a human . I don’t judge a woman because she has a more complex or simple birth than the births I had – I’m in MIDWIFERY because I want women to feel positive about their birth experience and EVEN after this weeks news I am still determined to try my best to promote physiology in all birth settings . 

Anyway back to the operating theatre . 

The team in the operating theatre where I work are so together with the families they meet . They all know the importance of #SkinToSkin contact and how utterly important it is for the woman involved to hold her newborn asap . So the ODP makes sure that the woman tucks one sleeve of her theatre gown under her arm , places the ECG electrodes on the woman’s back and adds a mini – extension to the top of the theatre table so as to give the woman a greater sense of space to hold her newborn . The scrub nurse prepares a sterile space on the cot for the obstetrician to place the baby onto AFTER delayed cord clamping has taken place . The baby is dried on the theatre table and then placed on a sterile sheet on a cot with wheels – the Midwife assesses the baby’s condition at the side of the parents – so they feel involved and the baby is not weighed – we aim for skin to skin contact prior to 5 minutes of age – unless there are concerns with the baby’s health – both parents see the baby immediately and one of them cuts the cord . The other parent is then helped with placing the newborn on the mothers upper chest safely in a prone position and the midwife STAYS next to the woman and her newborn supporting them so that skin to skin can continue for as long as possible , I have piloted this and women who are supported hold their babies for longer – so I leave my records until we go into recovery area . Photographs are encouraged (as many as the family want to take) and also music . This week we asked a woman which music she’d like – we don’t yet have a Bluetooth speaker in  theatre just yet (watch this space)  so I put my phone on as Coldplay was requested . The consultant anaesthetist (Dr Richard Cross ) left the senior registrar in anaesthetics in charge whilst he was away for two minutes . When he returned he was holding a metal NHS supply teapot – we all looked puzzled 😕 . Then he carefully placed my phone into the empty teapot – this acted like a mini speaker and it was just the right volume for the family – but not too loud to disturb the surgeons and the safety in the theatre . 

What I’m trying to say is that this kind gesture was all for the family – especially the woman – we were making memories for her – she’ll always remember that she held her newborn , whilst listening to Coldplay from a teapot – what could be better than that 

Once safely in recovery (transfer to recovery area takes place with skin to skin ongoing ) we encourage birthcrawl by the newborn and praise the infants behaviour as this helps with the maternal connection . The woman is offered water quite soon after (unless she has had a general anaesthetic- in which case we wait until she is safe to tolerate water ) and then a cup of tea ( two half cups so none has the potential to spill onto the newborn ) and some toast which helps with enhanced recovery – we try to take our time with being in recovery as the woman needs more time to bond with her child due to restrictions on movement due to theatre drapes & position . 

Thank you Richard Cross and all the team in theatre for your kindness , laughter , compassion and care 
I hope you enjoyed reading this latest blog 

P.S what I didn’t mention was that there was a language barrier , but kindness , compassion and communication still took place – and the music connected us all ❤️

Happy Saturday -with love  Jenny xx 

The Caesarean experience 

How good is the approach to women who have a caesarean to birth their babies ? Do all NHS trusts routinely give the same care to each woman and newborn or is it tailored to each individual ? 

I am passionate that the caesarean procedure is also a positive uplifting experience for the woman her partner and their newborn . 

I get upset when I hear stories from different midwives at various NHS Trusts that skin to skin contact at Caesarean section isn’t routine or perhaps not discussed antenatally . From today I’m championing that skin to skin contact should be a priority for ALL WOMEN AND BABIES in the operating theatre and I’m doing this for several groups of women including those who

1. Were totally unaware that  skin to skin contact at caesarean was possible . 

2. Hear stories of women who held their baby skin to skin perioperatively when own their babies are older and they missed out on it which leaves them feeling robbed and upset. 

3. See photographs of babies in skin to skin contact during caesarean and they didn’t know they could take photographs 

4. Realised that skin to skin is possible but they weren’t given the choice 

5. Feel sad that the baby’s other parent wasn’t encouraged to hold their baby skin to skin during the caesarean operation . 

And this blog post is also for any woman who has an assisted birth in an operating theatre – I’m going to help you challenge NHS systems and change the birth discrimination between normal birth and birth in theatre . 

Why am I calling this BIRTH DISCRIMINATION

In my opinion every woman who gives birth should have the chance to hold her newborn in skin to skin contact even if only for a few minutes perhaps because the newborn requires transfer to neonatal unit or the woman feels unwell peri-operatively . 

Women who have a normal vaginal birth are more likely to hold their newborn for longer and separation from their newborns during the ‘golden skin to skin  hour’ will be less likely to happen. However, if a child is born in the operating theatre separation will occur within half an hour because of risk assessments meaning that the baby is moved as well as that within some NHS Trusts phones or cameras are not allowed in theatre and here are my thoughts on this matter which is close to my heart . 
We can no longer ignore the birth discrimination that exists between normal birth – where the woman has prolonged uninterrupted skin to skin contact – and assisted birth . It’s the role of everyone who is involved with birth in the operating theatre to work together to reduce and / or eliminate this birth discrimination.  I’m talking about midwives , anaesthetists , paediatricians , obstetricians , neonatal nurses , ODPs , maternity support workers coming together to form multi-disciplinary teams to plan how skin to skin contact length and opportunity can me maximised and separation minimised . 

We are all aware that skin to skin contact is beneficial in numerous evidence based ways (just go onto google scholar and search “skin to skin contact at birth”  to both mother and baby. It is NOW time to take action and assess each woman and baby individually instead of adhering to a ‘one size fits all’ approach . Of course there are women who may have to have a general anaesthetic – so consider this from the baby’s point of view – and work out a way that the other parent might be able to provide skin to skin for the newborn . 

We are in 2017 and now is the time to make change happen – talk about this to your MSLCs , the labour ward forum meetings , MDT meetings and be pro-active – together we can all make a difference 

Thank you for reading – jenny ❤️

To be continued ….. 

r – Evolution in the NHS is happening right now 

Let’s go right back to 1980 the year I joined the NHS . I was a student nurse . My first ward was E1 a male surgical ward which was run like a tight ship. The captain was the sister and she ruled the seas – quite literally especially when I flooded the ward because I’d left the metal bed pan steriliser running during a ward round !!! 💦💦The consultant was paddling in his leather shoes, his trousers suspended at half mast like sails  – he never spoke to me but I was told off , humiliated and belittled. I wonder if that’s when I first saw the value of humour at work ?  Because suddenly the patients adored me ! Fast forwards 33 years to 2013 , you’d think I’d have learnt my lesson ! A busy shift and I was working on the beloved birth centre , women were spilling  into it because the delivery suite (a term I do not like – birth ward would be better) was full . A midwife friend asked me to keep an eye on the birth pool she was filling and I forgot as the woman I was with was overflowing with oxytocin and gave birth . So the best thing I hear is someone shouting ‘flood!’ Oops a daisy – run outside the woman’s room (not the room or my room – take note!) to find Mr Amu our lovely consultant standing in water laughing at me and saying “how do we sort this ?” My friend Carol the cleaner in hysterics with me as we rallied water suction machines , towels , sheets ANYTHING to stop the water moving further . Do you see the difference between 1980 and 2013 ? Now those of you who know me well know I’m a joker as I regularly shout to lovely Carol the cleaner “quick I’ve had another water incident !” Of course I’m joking and of course we laugh out loud and Carol tells me off – giggling . 

The evolution is happening because  as the years have passed social media has been accepted as a form of communications and is effective connecting more staff and service users than emails and/or phone calls. However much more than that NHS staff can find out what’s happening (or not as the case maybe) either within their own trusts or in other trusts they may never ever visit or work at . By sharing evidence, good practice  , learning from others and communicating openly we are slowly stamping out poor practice and improving quality . Patients talk to staff within an open forum , staff read more articles and are constantly trying to improve the patient experience . 

For me I think the lightbulb moment has been that I can make a difference , I can challenge practice and I allow myself to keep learning, growing and connecting . I’ll take you back to 1980 – all I knew was where I worked – now I see so much more-  and the wonderful people I’ve met on social media ? Well we would have never met ! So thank you social media from the staff and families of the NHS.

Let’s keep on evolving 
Thank you for reading 

With love  , 

Jenny ❤️

Fear of birth 

How can midwives help women who have a fear of birth ? 

If you meet pre labour I cannot over emphasise the benefits of using a doula service – doulas connect with women and support them through pregnancy , labour, birth and the postnatal period – I value all doulas and I have learnt so much from them . 

Sit beside the woman at her level , listen carefully with your eyes and your  ears . Demonstrate that you accept her fear as real and tangible and do not dismiss  it by saying “you’ll be fine, lots of women give birth”. When as a midwife you first meet a woman, it’s crucial for you to have open body language which means arms by your side , warmth in your eyes, and you should display love and truth . Ask the woman if she wants you to hold her hand , this is a connective proces and a simple yet effective of cementing your relationship with her . 

Help the woman to gain a rapport with you and confidence in herself by demystifying some of her previous experiences  eg the gas and air didn’t help last time , I tore badly last time , I failed at breastfeeding last time. this time it just might . Be a source of knowledge and light for her .  Explain that you are with her that you love your job and you will be her advocate throughout .  

Explain the process of pain in the cervix and why relaxation can help , use mindfulness links for her to listen to and actively take part in them with the woman and her partner to show your commitment to them both . Teach her that an internal examination is about choice, consent and that she is the one in control with an ability to stop the process at any time . Also explain her human rights matte in labour. . The woman may decide against internal examinations – be with her in this decision. 

Hold the woman’s hand when she is talking to you , this will let her see that you are kind and that you  want to help her . Say things like ” I can see vulnerability in your eyes , tell me how I can help you , I am with you” “how are you feeling at this present moment? ” 

Ask what her fears are – one woman I met recently was so scared , she thought that she might die in labour – this may seem irrational but it’s acutely important to know that these expressions of fear are very real to the woman herself . 

Don’t talk about feeding intention , sometimes a woman’s confidence and belief in herself are knocked for six when there have been difficulties with breastfeeding and this can manifest as fear in labour . Discuss instead why her newborn craves for skin to skin with her at birth and that these physiologically magical hours are also to help her feel validated once she has given birth . 

Help the woman to focus on the moment not what might happen this is mindfulness in labour.

If a woman has had a straightforward birth before , her perception of it is what matters not what the notes say or the fact that it appears to have gone smoothly. 

Try your best to stay in the room most of the time , even use the ensuite in the room yourself once you have asked her permission to do so . Your aim is to to reduce her anxiety and fear of being left by the midwife .

Handover information to the team on shift about the woman and her fear of birth so that staff enter the room peacefully and introduce themselves . If someone enters the room and doesn’t introduce themselves, do it for them. 

Ensure that the partners voice is heard and that they see you are trying to help by using open questions . Learn what they do , how they met and see their love for one another . 

Don’t push the woman to have stronger analgesia , the key is give information. It’s crucial to give full explanation of all analgesia and their effects not only on the woman but on the baby and its ability to feed after birth . The pain is the woman’s pain and she must feel heard regarding her analgesic choices. 
Never underestimate the value of finding  a midwife that knows the woman and also suggest aromatherapy. Frankincense is wonderful scent that reduces anxiety and if used in combination with other scents has a calming pain relieving quality . 

Keep the room darker and ask staff to be respectful by not  entering the sacred birth room – interruptions increase adrenalin response which blocks the production of oxytocin and if her partner can get on the bed too this helps the woman to feel safe and loved . 

Explain that you will not talk loudly during the birth and also try not to leave the woman afterwards , complete all notes in the room . Sometimes the most vulnerable time for a new mother is immediately after her child is born . Staying with her to help with positioning and handling of her baby will serve to strengthen her own belief in herself .

Avoid using terms such as “good girl” use the woman’s name to speak to her so that a sense of trust is built upon . 

Explain why prolonged skin to skin contact will help the woman after the birth , it is revalidating

If you think she might need your help with a shower or bath that’s fine – ancient cultures have washing rituals and cleansing is sometimes quite cathartic for a postnatal woman plus you are showing that you care about her and reaffirming that human kindness makes a difference to someone’s experience .

It’s important to be aware of fear of birth and how it manifests in women sometimes it’s difficult to recognise  in the antenatal period and might not be disclosed until labour . Women with a fear of birth  must’ve given time , feel listened to and feel supported . 

Whichever way the birth takes place stay with the woman , and be a constant for her . 

Read as many articles as you can about fear of birth let women know that you understand , follow @FearOfBirth , Yana Richens is a consultant midwife at University College Hospitals London NHS Trust who has just submitted her PhD on fear of birth , she has extensive knowledge and experience . Also Kathryn Gutteridge aka @Sanctummid who is a consultant midwife at Birmingham Women’s who recently co- hosted a tweet chat on  the @WeMidwives platform together with   @TheLovelyMaeve  Maeve O’Connell (a senior Irish Midwife who has also submitted her PhD) . The tweet chat discussed  the subject of Tocophobia . 

Lastly try to write a birth story for the woman from her newborn . When a woman sees words on paper that reflect how she gave birth and her newborns belief in her the effect is indescribable . This will pass into the next generation and you will be affirming birth to many others who read the letter. Never underestimate the effect that your actions , inactions or displays of love , kindness and compassion will have on a woman and her family , they will unknowingly to you. Quite simply your support kindness and compassion will last much longer than a lifetime. 

Thankyou for reading and thank you to wonderful Claire Harrison midwife and friend for believing in me and inspiring me to write this piece .

Love from Jenny 💛❤️💛XXXX

 The role of L❤️VE in healthcare 

I recently rewatched    THIS FILM   of Dr Donald Berwick giving the keynote speech in London 2013 to The International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare. This presentation struck a chord with me . 

In the NHS there are many systems and processes which promote working within the confines of guidance and staffing  . However, time and time again there seems to be omissions about how guidance can encompass love . When people love their job and they feel valued within their particular role the result is better health care . It can’t be a coincidence that this is because if you love your job then in effect you love the people you care for .  

When we talk about “love” it’s sometimes misunderstood – actually being human is about loving others .

 I was once in an orthopaedic ward as a patient following an accident and had to have major surgery on my lower leg – a pin and plate and internal fixation , tendon repairs . This operation left me non-weight bearing for 12 weeks . My mobility was severely compromised . In the bed next to me was an elderly woman let’s call her “Sophie”. Each day I’d watch some staff forget to put Sophie’s drink within her reach and this troubled me greatly . I’d ask staff to move her drink closer and I was usually given ‘the look’ i.e “what business is it of yours?” In fact it was totally my business as a human to care about another human . So I made a decision that I’d make Sophie’s hydration my job and also the job of my visitors . Sophie had no visitors , she was confused and didn’t really talk much . I asked my family to bring her a few bottles of sugar free cordial and set about my mission . On a daily basis I hopped to her bed and made her several drinks over the course of the day – usually out of sight of the staff . I began to recognise when she wanted the toilet as she’d shout out , then I’d alert the staff . This went on over about 6 days and with my visitors helping Sophie was soon rehydrated and talking – in fact she was well enough to go back to the nursing home she had been admitted from . 

So what made me do this ? I didn’t know Sophie and I could’ve just focused on my own recovery. In fact Sophie helped me to find the courage to use my crutches (something I was petrified of using) and she took my mind off my own pain and frustration . Much more than this however I saw myself as Sophie in years to come – ‘sat out’ in a chair unable to move or communicate , hoping for the staff to be kind , for the kindness of strangers to aid my recovery or to ease my loneliness in some way . 

“We are all one another” 

I never told anyone about this before except my family who were also directly responsible for Sophie’s recovery . You see the truth is we didn’t do it for recognition – we de it because we are human 

Thank you for reading 

With love , Jenny ❤️

The fable of the napkin folder 

There was once a factory in a far away land . The factory owner Fred  took immense pride in his factory .

This was no normal place to work , the employees had to fold napkins at the same time as caring for an elderly person . This care involved mainly talking to the elderly person and making the person happy through conversation – this was an intrinsic  part of their work – but I’d like you remember that  the employee also had to fold napkins .

Suki was an employee at the factory , she was an amazing napkin folder and the top napkin folder at the factory . The factory owner raved on and on about how good Suki was at her job – he promoted her and used her as a role model of efficiency whenever he went to other napkin folding factories . Suki felt very proud and kept working hard .

One day Suki’s chair broke – so she had to move to another area whilst it was fixed . Suki sat next to Giles who was also a napkin folder – Giles wasn’t very productive but he did attain adequate levels of napkin folding  to keep himself in employment . Suki noticed amazing things about Giles he was working but also chatting away to his allocated elderly person quite a lot , the elderly person was called Gertrude . Suki noticed that Gertrude looked very happy and Suki suddenly realised that all the years at the napkin folding factory her own allocated elderly person had never laughed like Gertrude . 

The next day Suki went to see Fred the factory manager and told him about Giles & Gertrude . “I think we should watch Giles” Suki said . Fred the factory owner went to see Giles and immediately noticed how joyful he was in his work – Suki was happy but Giles had that extra ‘je ne sais quoi’ . The factory owner also checked all the records of all the elderly people that Giles had sat with whilst he folded napkins . A wonderful thing had come to light not only had no one complained but there were letters of thanks from families of the elderly people stating how kind Giles had been and recommendations for his promotion .

The next day Fred the factory owner made an announcement to all the people at the factory  

“All of us within this factory should give a higher priority to making each elderly person happy  over and above folding napkins. In this wonderful life  we are simply spreading kindness , compassion and the human spirit . Look at Giles and Getrude and the happiness they emit and share . ”

Over the next few months the factory workers tried their best each day to give their priority to each of their allocated elderly people. A remarkable thing started to happen – productivity increased and surprise,y more napkins were folded than ever before  but also the workers felt more valued  and much happier about being at work – plus much more than that the physical and mental health of the elderly people involved took a significant improvement – because in the end we are on earth to be human .

I hope you enjoy my fable . 
Thank you for reading 
❤️Jenny❤️

#LeadToAdd 

LeadToAdd click HERE to learn more is the latest NHS England campaign # is #LeadToAdd. As a Caremaker I will be linking this on Twitter with my work on #skinToskin , #futuremidwives and #couragebutter to inspire others to see themselves as leaders regardless of their role . Patients, women, families and non-clinical staff are also leaders .  
I feel this will inspire/activate different meanings to different people

Here are some of my thoughts around it

What does to lead mean ? 
To take charge , to be at the front , to inspire , to educate, to be diverse 
Leading is about being at the front and CONSTANTLY looking back to bring others with you

Leading is about being the first to begin something but not necessarily holding onto that but looking at how your actions impact on the way others fulfil their role. Leading is being a positive role model, leading is about looking inwards at your own behaviour and also looking outwards at the behaviour of others . 

In the NHS all staff need encouragement to recognise themselves as leaders and also to see that some behaviours do not embody leadership. We are all learning each day, so don’t stay still – question yourself and the way you speak to others . Ask a colleague to listen to you talking to patients and staff and to give you feedback -what could you change ? Integrate telephone conversations into drills training-  talk to your practice development team – think outside the box . 

Someone who leads others into poor practice is a poor leader but a leader non the less so be aware of your own commitment to pass the positive leadership baton . We are human and it’s ok to make mistakes , however we must learn, evolve and change .

The other day I had a car journey with Joan Pons Laplana (@ThebestJoan on twitter) and once again he made me think hard about how the 6Cs are integrated into practice . Joan said to me that as a health care professional all tasks and procedures must embody the 6Cs – even answering a telephone call. 
As a form of reflection I’d like you to read passage one and then passage two
Passage One 
Busy labour ward – phone ringing , midwife answered the phone – we will call the person making the call Tony and his partner who is having a baby is called Dolores. The midwives name will be Darcy . 
Midwife ( confident and cheery) ” hello labour ward , midwife speaking how can I help you?”
Tony (nervous voice) ” oh hi – err my partner thinks she’s in labour , it’s our first baby and we are a bit nervous . Could I ask you some questions , she’s here but having a contraction right now and then she feels sick for a few minutes after its gone. 
Midwife “oh right well I need to talk to her please and decide what’s happening’  
I’m not going to continue this but could the midwife change her approach ? Is this midwife you ? A colleague? This approach has been learnt from a peer
Passage Two 

Busy labour ward – phone ringing , midwife answered the phone – we will call the person making the call Tony and his partner who is having a baby is called Dolores. The midwives name will be Darcy . ….

Midwife ( confident and cheery) ” hello labour ward , my name is Darcy Jones I’m a midwife and how can I help you?”
Tony (nervous voice) ” oh hi Darcy – I’m Tony – err my partner Dolores thinks she’s in labour , it’s our first baby and we are a bit nervous . Could I ask you some questions , she’s here but having a contraction right now and then she feels sick for a few minutes after its gone. 
Midwife “ok well I would like to take some details first whilst Dolores has a contraction . Thank you so much for ringing us . How are you feeling ? This is your first baby ? How exciting for you both!” 
I’m not going to continue this but could the midwife change her approach In either scenario – which is the best one in your opinion ?  ? Is either of these scenarios you ? A colleague? This approach has been learnt from a peer. 
So you see two examples each one leaving the person contacting  the service with different emotions . 
Start your journey as a #LeadToAdd leader today  ❤️
Thank you for reading 
Love , Jenny ❤️