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Midwives and maternity staff praised for Covid-19 response

Leading medical figures have applauded NHS maternity teams and midwives for providing on-going high quality care during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Frimley Health and Care’s Medical Director and Director of Midwifery also urged new and expectant families to continue coming forward for routine checks and urgent advice.

The praise came as the nation marked International Day of the Midwife today (May 5th).

Speaking of the maternity teams at Wexham Park and Frimley Park hospitals, Medical Director, Lalitha Iyer, and Director of Midwifery, Emma Luhr, said: “Since the NHS put itself on the highest level of alert over coronavirus on 30 January, Frimley midwives and maternity services have helped to bring an estimated 2,307 babies into the world, including twins.

“Midwives have adapted their services, including using technology like telephone and video appointments and home blood pressure monitoring. They have set up brand new community hubs in Bracknell, Aldershot and Slough in addition to the existing hubs in Fleet and Maidenhead and are continuing to provide women with all of the care that they need.

“We are really pleased and impressed that women and families continue to have positive experiences with a range of great resources available to support them. It is essential that women continue to access routine and urgent care as needed and not hesitate to contact their midwives for any queries they may have.”

Emma added: “I recently took part in a live Facebook question and answer session which was supported by our Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP). This was such a success that there will be more similar sessions planned. The MVP has also co-produced messages that are on our website page making sure everyone has the most up to date information during these challenging times.”

While some mothers-to-be continue to receive support and attend appointments, health leaders are concerned that fear of contracting coronavirus is leading to many women not attending routine appointments, or not getting in touch with their midwife or maternity team as quickly as they usually would with any concerns.

If you are expecting a child and live in East Berkshire, Surrey Heath or North East Hampshire and Farnham, then there are many useful links at your fingertips which contain a wealth of useful maternity information, support and advice:

Targeted messages urging expectant mums to seek support in the way they always would have been launched today (5/5) as the next stage in the NHS’ Help Us Help You campaign, launched on 25 April by chief executive Sir Simon Stevens.

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We welcome this important campaign as we know this is a particularly anxious time for pregnant women. Our key message is that antenatal care is essential and if you are invited to come to an appointment at a hospital or a clinic, it is because these are necessary to support your pregnancy, despite the current pandemic. If you have any concerns or worries about your or your baby’s health – including the baby's movements – seek medical advice immediately.

“Giving birth is a very special time and I would like to thank everyone in our maternity services who is working tirelessly, in challenging circumstances, to continue to provide the safest possible care and support to women and their babies.”

Jenny Hughes, Regional Chief Midwife, NHS England and Improvement – South East said: “Anyone who has ever given birth or worked as a midwife will tell you that when a baby is ready to be born, he or she will not wait. So, while the NHS staff have been pulling out all the stops to deal with the greatest public health threat in over a century, our midwives and their colleagues have also continued to work around the clock to deliver more than 150,000 babies and support hundreds of thousands more new and expectant families through a really uncertain time.

“If you’re an expectant new mum, I want you to know that the NHS is still here for you and has gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of you and your baby, so please, help us help you: if you’re worried about your health or that of your baby, contact your midwife just as you always would, and if you’re asked to come in for a planned or urgent check, it’s vital that you do so.”

 

"Being a midwife is a special privilege." - Katie's experience:

The following case study featuring a local midwife - Katie Watkins, Integrated Digital Midwife, Wexham Park Hospital, Frimley Health - has been shared by our NHS colleagues in support of International Day of the Midwife:-

Midwifery was not on Katie’s radar at all when she left college, but she knew she wanted to work with people, not against them and wanted to feel like the work she was doing made a difference rather than just for profit. I had always been fascinated by pregnancy and childbirth so thought I would give it a go.

Katie said “I began my training in 2013 and qualified in 2016 as a midwife. After a year of consolidating my practice I was beginning to think about how I might progress in my career beyond that.

"I still loved caring for women but felt that I could improve the service women received in other ways. I started working 50% of the time as an IT midwife in February of this year, developing digital systems and ensuring data quality and found a little sector of the midwifery world that I felt I could make a real difference. I saw an opportunity to become the lead digital midwife at Wexham and started my new role”.

The care women receive can be hugely improved by digital systems. If we can ensure seamless, smooth running of technology, then midwives spend less time trying to work the system and more time with the women.

Technology can allow midwives to work with different departments from all over the trust; management, data analysts, clinical coders; and ensure the sharing of vital information to provide connected care for patients.

Katie said: “Everyone is always surprised to hear there is such a thing as a digital midwife and are often confused why this would be a path that would be interesting to a midwife.

"Beyond the clinical care of women, there is such a variety of career paths you can take within midwifery that people are very rarely aware of. There is always opportunity to be developed professionally and the options are honestly endless.

"Being a midwife is a special privilege. There is nothing quite like knowing that you’ve been part of the journey to a woman and her family bringing life into the world. Even being part of the tragic side of midwifery is incredibly rewarding, as the impact you can have in these situations will often be remembered by the family forever.”

Frimley Health and Care