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Midwifery

Midwives told to replace ‘disrespectful’ phrases with ’empowering’ alternatives

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Midwives have been told to use phrases that are “disrespectful” to women and instead uses “empowering” terminology.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) article titled “Humanising birth: Does the language we use matter?” gives examples of poor language use followed by the suggested alternative.

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Examples include; the Labour Ward should now be called the “Birthing Suite”, a big baby should be called a “healthy baby” and the term fetal distress should be altered to “changes in the baby’s heart rate pattern”.

The three experts devised the list of “disrespectful” common terms, in the hope, it will ensure women are ‘empowered to make decisions’.

The document goes on to challenge the use of complex clinical acronyms that non-healthcare professionals may not understand or phrases that could cause distress.

Phrases such as “terminate pregnancy” should be avoided and instead, patients should be told they are undergoing a “compassionate induction”.

Writing in the BMJ, the authors said;

“Language matters as a way of respecting women’s views and ensuring that they are empowered to make decisions.

“The use of insensitive language can be indicative of an underlying malaise, which reveals underlying attitudes and prejudices.

“It is essential that we achieve respectful practice, ensuring that women have complete understanding and control of their own care.”

“Good communication during the birthing process is critical to good maternity care, but achieving a shift in deeply ingrained language, and the thinking it reflects, is difficult.

“There is a fine line between changing terminology to integrate language which is more respectful, inclusive, and less intimidating for the mother, and substituting vague, verbose language which hinders the original message.”

Recent updates to the NICE Intrapartum Care Guidelines emphasise the importance of good intrapartum communication and respect for women’s autonomy.

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Being a midwife is more than just “delivering babies”

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To be a midwife is to be ‘with women’,
And helping them prepare for their tiny little human,
It’s making sure baby’s growing by measuring the bump,
It’s listening to the heart rate, there’s nothing like that little thump.

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It’s discussing fetal movements, they’re the most important sign,
It’s reassuring an anxious mum that everything is fine,
It’s running antenatal classes, so parents know what to expect,
But no matter how much you know there’s lessons to be learned in retrospect.

it’s a sudden gush of water, spew and mucous plugs,
It’s women demanding that we get her bloody drugs,
It’s dimmed lighting and relaxation that often does the trick,
It’s sometimes ladies screaming that their husband is a pr*ck.

It’s running round for twelve-hour shifts and the smelly feet,
It’s knowing slimming world won’t approve of all the sweets you eat,
Its putting dad at ease when the baby comes,
it’s watching the magical moment when women become mums.

It’s observing and applauding when everything goes right,
It’s helping women feed in the middle of the night,
It’s supporting parents in their decision for bottle or for breast,
Either way is okay, a happy mum and baby’s best.

It’s being a good listener, or laughing over a cup of tea,
It’s empowering women and measuring bedpans full of pee,
It’s sharing information and putting up IV drips,
It’s the sweeps to bring on labour, with your magic fingertips.

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It’s reviewing ctg traces, sometimes trace after trace,
It’s transfers round to labour ward, running at some pace,
It’s staying calm and collected when things don’t go to plan,
And when mums start to doubt themselves it’s telling them ‘you can’.

But sadly it’s not every day things go hunky dory,
If only every day we walked away with a happy story,
But not all births are happy, some angel babies we will mourn,
Their tiny little footprints leave a big impact when they’re born.

It’s the never-ending learning, something new in every day,
Its the stressful shift and the days you swear your hairs are turning grey,
It’s working as a team, things go smoother when you do,
It’s skipping breaks to get work done but squeezing time in for a brew.

It’s hearing the same questions, like ‘when baby comes will I poo?’
It’s the bladder damage because you can’t get to the loo,
It’s buzzers going off left, right and centre,
It’s working with students and trying your best to be a mentor.

It’s walking out the ward an hour later than you should,
It’s going home to your flatmate who gets the brunt of your bad mood,
It’s the food filled tea trolleys whilst everyone else is in their bed,
And when you do get to bed, its jobs still running through your head,
Did I document that on badger? Did I do all that I could,
It’s your colleagues reassuring you not to worry ‘it’s all good’.

It’s not mentioning the ‘Q’ word, you just enjoy it whilst it lasts,
It’s booking annual leave when you see a full moon is forecast,
It’s the shambles of a handover after the most chaotic day,
But it’s rewarding and fulfilling in every single way.

It is loving our job for all the good and the bad,
To be a midwife, we must be bloody mad!
This poem makes it sound like we’re all a bunch of crazies,
But you have to be,
because being a midwife is more than just delivering babies. ?

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Midwifery

New national role for midwife who supports bereaved parents

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A midwife University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust has been asked to co-lead a national review which could change the law for bereaved families.

Sam Collinge who is a Midwife and Maternity Bereavement Service Manager at University Hospital in Coventry will shape plans that will mean parents who lose a pregnancy before 24 weeks will be able to choose to register their baby’s death.

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The announcement was tweeted by Secretary for State for Health and social care, Jeremy Hunt MP, on Friday (March 23).

Currently, parents whose babies are stillborn after 24 weeks gestation can register the baby’s name and receive a certificate of registration of stillbirth.  When a pregnancy ends before 24 weeks gestation however, there is no formal process for parents to legally register the loss.

Bereaved Mum Salma knows all too well the heartbreak of not being able to register her baby’s death.

She has had 20 pregnancy losses, 12 babies she was unable to register because they were born before the 24 weeks threshold.

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Salma said: “My babies will always exist to me because I carried them, but a death certificate is official, it says to the world that they existed.   Sam looked after us in the darkest of hours and I cannot think of someone more compassionate than her to lead this, she is the perfect person for this important job.”

Together with Zoe Clark Coates from charity the Mariposa Trust (Saying Goodbye), Sam will also look at how services can be improved for parents who experience a miscarriage and other causes of a baby loss.

Alison Talbot, Head of Midwifery at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, said: “I am thrilled that Sam has been asked to lead this national review.  She provides outstanding care to women and their families during the most devastating time and for her to be chosen to do this is testament to her expertise and experience.”

She will also look at how services can be improved for parents who experience a miscarriage and other causes of baby loss.

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Midwifery

RCN launches member survey on decriminalisation of termination of pregnancy

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The RCN is launching a UK-wide survey of its members on the principle of removing criminal sanctions from termination of pregnancy.

The online survey, which will run from Friday 16 February to Sunday 18 March 2018, will help the RCN to form a position on decriminalisation.

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Currently, termination of pregnancy is legal in England, Scotland and Wales, within certain criteria that must be agreed by two doctors. Without this agreement, termination is a criminal offence which could result in a prison sentence. In Northern Ireland, termination of pregnancy is illegal except in very limited cases.

There is growing debate about removing criminal sanctions from termination of pregnancy. Currently, the RCN does not have a position on decriminalisation. The College is committed to developing a position so that it can contribute to the debate.

The survey will not consult on the wider issues around termination of pregnancy, including the arguments for or against the procedure. The RCN is not calling for any change to gestational limits or changes to the right to conscientious objection by health care professionals.

There are different ways in which termination of pregnancy could be decriminalised but the survey will only focus on the principle of whether or not it should be removed from criminal law.

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Commenting on the survey launch, Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:

“Decriminalisation is an important issue for today’s society to consider and one the College is committed to having a position on.

“As the largest nursing organisation in the United Kingdom, we wish to understand the views of our members.

“I encourage all RCN members to complete the survey to help us inform our position.”

You can take part in the survey hereResponses to this survey will not be shared publically and RCN membership numbers will be removed before the results are analysed so that views cannot be attributed to individual members.

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