Knit a Midwife Campaign

We are 3,500 midwives short in England. A wonderful initiative by an RCM member was launched earlier in the year called “knit a midwife campaign”. The plan is to knit or crochet lots of midwives to display at the RCM conference on 18-19 October in Harrogate and help to highlight to government the urgency of this midwifery staffing crisis. We must have funding to recruit more midwives if we are to achieve the recommendations in the NHS maternity transformation programme and deliver safe high quality maternity care for all women in England.

Please help us by contributing to this campaign and knit or crochet a midwife and send it to the campaign organiser. Thanks for all your contributions so far and encourage your family and friends to knit a midwife. 

The official knitted midwife has more information here.

Reflections following the Global midwifery event hosted  by the University of Bradford Midwifery Society

It was an inspiring and wonderful  day! From teethy smiles to soggy eyes and needy hugs.It was an emotional roller coaster event  listening to  the global challenges that women meet daily , birthing their babies across the globe in low income countries. We learned a lot about why  maternal and infant mortality rates are so high in under resourced countries and what the developed countries are trying to do to help.We heard about the awful circumstances that midwives and skilled birth attendants face daily, trying to meet the women’s needs on a massive scale.We witnessed women’s own birthing stories , women from afar! We understood why we need to help.But we also heard the good news , about how important and involved  families are to pregnant and breastfeeding women and the importance they place on breastfeeding giving babies the best start in life.We  learned and must continue to learn from other countries too.

I particularly enjoyed the sharing and learning together, novices and leaders, students and teachers  under the roof of the University of Bradford (UoB) student Centre, hosted by the UoB midwifery society and  chaired beautifully  by the young student midwife President Abbie Milne. 

We heard about the RCM Global midwifery twinning project presented by Joy Kemp the RCM Gloal advisor and myself. We shared the project outcomes and experiences of volunteers supported by images, (some to music ) but portraying the challenges and the successes the project achieved. More about the RCM global work can be found here.

We  also heard from Elaine Uppall a GMTP volunteer midwifery teacher from the University of Salford. Following Elaine’s  experience in Cambodia, she  went on to emulate a similar experience for two student midwives from the University of Salford.Elaines journey and story to support the future midwives understand the importance of global work which was was inspirational. 

We listened to Paula O Reilly’s story, a midwife from Bolton and her volunteering experiences.Paula was so inspired by her own GMTP experience she went on to volunteer with the Liverpool school of Tropical Health to volunteer in Kenya twice and teach emergency obstetric skills.A wonderful and humbling presentation. 

 We then heard  from Mel Cooper a midwifery teacher at the University of Bradford , about the challenges that migrant women in the UK face in accessing midwifery care, reminding us all that vulnerable women such as asylum seekers and refugees are more likely to die in childbirth than other groups of women. Mel shared  her charity work that  the” Maternity stream of the City of Sanctuary”  do to help this group of women. This presentation had  a video incorporated into it with with some very moving  women’s own stories. It  was  very hard hitting and left the audience with much to reflect on. “Maternity stream of the city of Sanctuary”  link is worth taking a look at to see the fabulous work they do.

Louise Ackers, a well published researcher then  brought us all down to earth by sharing  her Health Partnership work and gave us all an insight into the reality and outcomes of what “volunteering ” can and cannot achieve. Louise highlighted how fragile low income countries and communities are and how many volunteering projects  may not be set up to achieve sustainability  following interventions and then leaving the community or country in a more fragile position. Louise pointed out that sometimes countries and communities can potentially be made worse by some well intended interventions and had the evidence to support this. The take home message for me  was ” We should not be throwing resources at problems we do not fully understand in low income settings” Some real food for thought!
The day was beautifully rounded off  with a film by Brenda Davis called “Sister” sourced by the UoB midwifery society.

This was challenging  to watch at times , but I am glad I did. I came away with so much to think about  and even more to reflect on. It was a film that truly made me realise how fortunate we are to have such wonderful midwives, universities and MW teachers, students and MSWs in our great NHS and state education system. However, I also acknowledging that we have still more to do and improve maternity and newborn care for everyone in the UK whilst trying to help women and our midwifery sisters across the world.

The global birthing challenge continues and with events like this from the UoB midwifery society, we are all in a better position to understand more and support the  right intervention, for all the right reasons. Take home messages are ; We must NOT  keep on developing volunteering programmes in the UK because “it makes us all feel better” but because it will make a difference and be sustainable to women and their newborns across the globe.

My personal congratulations to the student midwives at the UoB Midwifery Society. The young Abbie Milnes the UoB midwifery society’s President, the team of students midwives from the society including Gemma and Kate who supported this event and worked hard behind the scenes  to make it a real success. Also the students from the UoB ands those  from the other universities who travelled and were engaged from beginning to end helping with the stimulating discussions. This  made it an ever richer learning event .

I really believe that  UoB achieved much more than they  realise as it was a truly  inspirational and educational event leaving us all with much more to think about from  global health for women and their newborns to  our role as a global midwifery family. Thank you UoB midwifery society. I  applaud you .👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻



Celebrating International Day of the Midwife-May 5th 2015.

 I am really looking forward to International Day of the Midwife on May 5th.  I will be at  the RCM celebrations in Edinburgh where we will be hosting a conference “Midwives for a better tomorrow ” .Here is a brief overview of the conference and of course I will be tweeting all things IDM on the day.Please blog, tweet,Facebook and share what you are doing to celebrate IDM 2015.

The morning will be chaired by RCM’s President Professor Lesley Page CBE. We will hear from many high profile speakers including  ICM’s Frances Day-Stirk about the State of the Worlds midwifery report  a key report for women’s health at a global level and published in 2014. We will also hear from Professor Mary Renfrew , professor of Mother and Infant Health at the University of Dundee and an author of  one of the most important research series  published -” The Lancet Midwifery Series”  (June 2014).Mary will discuss the importance of the Lancet series,the evidence and how this should be used to influence  midwifery across  the world. How we should  refocuse the conversation around midwifery  and why midwifery is a vital solution to the challenges of providing high-quality maternal and newborn care for all women and newborn infants, in all countries.

Frances McConville from WHO  is speaking about the landmark global action plan led by UNICEF and WHO. This is based on the latest epidemiology evidence where the global and country learning outline a strategy to prevent 2.9 million newborn deaths and 2.6 million stillbirths annually and setting specific targets for all countries to achieve by 2035. Frances will set out the vision of a world in which there are no preventable deaths of newborns or stillbirths, where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth celebrated, and women, babies and children survive, thrive and reach their full potential.  

Other speakers include Nina Murry from the Scottish Refugee Council who will  highlight the Scottish approach to tackling FGM. RCM global advisor Yana Richens will speak about the role of the midwife in FGM prevention.

The afternoon will be chaired by Louise Silverton RCM Director of Midwifery and Professor Cathy Warwick  CBE,  RCM  chief executive.They will facilitate speakers  and panel discussions on global midwifery. A presentation on The RCM Global Midwifery Twinning Project: How we did it, what it achieved and what we learned-will be led by  Joy Kemp, Global  Advisor and followed by a panel with a GMTP volunteer,a HOM, a researcher, myself and Joy where the delegates can join in the discussions.

All in all it is going  to be a fantastic day of celebrations for International Day of the Midwife 2015.


Celebrating the Royal Birth with Positive Midwifery.

May 2nd 2015 was a very special day for the country. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.The Duchess with the Duke by her side, cradling their newborn,left hospital some 12 hours after Kate’s initial admission. Was it midwife led care? We will never know officially however, what we do know is that two midwives escorted the family from the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital to their car.A wonderful moment for the Royal family and a very special day for the country.

But for me this was a remarkable moment for the midwifery profession.
What more could we ask for? At long last there was recognition for midwives who played their part in supporting the Duchess of Cambridge bring the little princess into the world.
As the family left hospital the two midwives appeared relaxed, happy and proud to be midwives. 

For midwives it’s about women and families at the centre of care in partnership with the midwife providing seamless,professional high quality safe care resulting in healthy and happy outcomes for mothers and babies.

Congratulations to all women who gave birth on May 2nd 2015. For you all this will remain a very special day. You will keep your very precious birth story in your heart and in your memory as each day passes and you nurture and watch your baby thrive.

Congratulations to the wonderful midwives who supported Kate and to all the midwives and support workers  who helped women give birth on May 2nd 2015. Every one of these births is as special and important as the Royal birth.

I found this  quote  which sums up my profession beautifully. It reminds me of all the positive midwifery that is happening across the country with women as partners. Midwives please keep up your great work caring for women and their families. Student midwives , study hard and learn your art and science as you are the professions future and women’s hope that birth will be positive for everyone . Maternity support workers, keep working hard caring for women and supporting midwives in their role. Together let us all keep learning, improving, caring and working together with families to provide the best maternity care in the world.

“You are a midwife, assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: “We did it ourselves!”  From The Tao Te Ching.

Congratulations to their Royal Highnesses and welcome to the world little princess.




The midwifery profession and women know that there is a lot of good midwifery practice and high quality safe maternity care within the NHS. We also know that sometimes  practice has  fallen below what is expected in our professional rules and standards. We must acknowledge our mistakes, learn and improve care as recommended in the Kirkup report. 

We are now advised that the national review of maternity services chaired by Baroness Cumberlege will report to NHS England by the end of 2015. Whilst the review is underway it is important to take stock and share as a profession, the good and positive midwifery practice currently provided within the NHS. It’s also necessary  to be ready to submit any evidence to the review group or advisory panels should the profession be asked.

I am keen that we now share  examples of good  midwifery practice in the format of brief blogs linked to Twitter that demonstrate midwifery care and positive midwifery practice. All can be collated and shared wider and be ready to submit  as evidence. 

Important good practice areas to consider are services that have:

Higher than average home birth rates 

A dedicated home birth team 

Examples of providing continuity of care for high risk women, particularly any with evidence of good outcomes

A large freestanding MLU unit with evidence of good outcomes 

Alongside MLUs which offer continuity or case-loading models 

A thriving but small FMU i.e. 100 births or fewer, with evidence as to how they are ensuring viability

Examples where women are able to exercise choice and 

Examples of care where vulnerable women have choice 

Let’s do this  together as a profession. Huge thanks  in advance. 







Re-Blog courtesy of the Royal College of Midwives. Influenza in pregnancy

Influenza in Pregnancy – A Public Health blog
Jacque Gerrard, RCM Director England/Midwifery Directorate
2015-02-12 16:15
The RCM are working closely with Public Health England (PHE), Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), MBRRACE UK and others to try and improve the uptake of flu vaccination in pregnancy. This is being championed by Louise Silverton Director for Midwifery at the RCM. Whilst the RCM recognises that there are issues in commissioning and delivering the vaccination programme by midwives within maternity services, we are now seeing some very good examples of where this service is appropriately commissioned and funded to provide vaccination as part of the antenatal pathway.

The RCM will continue to work with PHE in improving vaccination uptake by contributing to their strategic plan and getting the most up to date information widely circulated to midwives. In this way, midwives will have the information to support women to make the right choice to be immunised against influenza in pregnancy and hopefully the uptake which currently sits at 43% will improve. The target audience are 100% of pregnant women to be given the information regarding flu vaccination and signposted to a local service to be immunised. In an ideal world this would be done by the named midwife however we recognise that this is not feasible for every maternity and midwifery service.

Even if midwives are not the healthcare provider who is administering the vaccine, from a public health perspective they are key healthcare professionals who understand it’s importance and can therefore signpost women to where they can access the flu vaccination programme.

Why should midwives be involved?

There is much evidence to show that pregnant women if they get flu, have a higher chance of developing complications especially in late pregnancy. These include middle ear infections, meningitis, encephalitis and septic shock. This of course can have a major effect on the health outcomes for both mother and baby. In fact deaths from flu in pregnancy featured highly in the recent MBRRACE maternal mortality report. This highlighted the fact that maternal deaths from flu continue despite the availability of the vaccine. In addition where flu was diagnosed there was a 25% fetal mortality rate.

Many midwives worry that the flu vaccine is not safe in pregnancy and that is simply a myth. Yes it is safe during any stage of pregnancy and even better news is that it is not only safe for the fetus too, but the protection passes to the baby lasting for the first few months in life.

What does the RCM want its members to do?

Encourage women to receive the vaccine and explain it is safe for mother and baby.
Ensure that you know where women can access vaccination locally if it is not being administered as part of the maternity pathway.
If you are part of a team that provides a flu vaccination service then keep updated every year.
Signpost women to NHS Choices website to read about the flu in pregnancy information.
Keep up to date and watch the RCM website for further information on influenza in pregnancy as PHE with the RCM and others continue to work in partnership and provide important public health information.