Save Independent Midwifery Campaign - Women's Voices

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Rebecca's comment Print

Whilst nothing is guaranteed, I wanted very much to plan for a home birth with my first baby last year. However, my GP dismissed this option for me as I was 'too elderly' and therefore too high risk. (I was a 35 year old teetotal, non-smoking vegetarian who bicycled 60 miles a week.) I also found it confusing and tiring to meet a different NHS midwife at every antenatal check up, at which point I'd have to reprise my 'history' once again and each time receive different, often conflicting, advice.

In exasperation I turned to independent midwives Elke Heckel and Jacqui Tomkins and never looked back. They treated me as an individual and offered me full, up-to-date information that allowed me to make my own decisions. They grew to know me and my husband, building up a base of knowledge and trust which ultimately enabled my labour to progress smoothly and easily. Pregnancy and childbirth felt normal and natural, not a disease or a medical emergency. My post natal care ensured that breastfeeding was straightforward. Simply, my experience was superlative. Ideally IMs should be able to take out affordable PII. However, on balance I felt immeasurably 'safer' under the aegis of uninsured IMs than being in an overstretched NHS maternity unit which is insured up to the hilt. IMs are highly trained and skilled yet at bottom perhaps their most precious asset is a low tech one: their freedom to spend time building a one to one relationship with an expectant, labouring and nursing mother.(recent ex-client)

Jayne Print

Just wanted to get in touch & register my support.  I am a member of AIMS, run a support group for women in Glasgow & I run a website that provides women with access to researched-based information about their pregnancies & births so they can make better informed choices.  I am currently 31 weeks pregnant & being cared for by, in my opinion, the best Independent Midwife in Scotland, Cassy McNamara.  I have also registered a petition to save Independent Midwifery with the Scottish Parliament – my aim was to try to get something going up here in the hopes that if they did pay attention, it might spark more of a push down south – just look at the effect of the smoking ban.

I’m all for banding together as a unified force but I also think it’s really important to demonstrate in as many ways possible & from as many different sources that removal of choice can not be tolerated.  In Glasgow our maternity services are one of the worst in the UK with caesarean rates topping 31%.  I had a horrible experience with my first pregnancy & if I didn’t have the choice of employing Cassy this time around, I’d be in a real panic about my home birth again.  This time around, thanks to Cassy, I’m now so laid back about my pregnancy & the birth, I’m almost horizontal.(client)

Kate Print

Out of all my friends and family, I know of only 1 person who had a positive birth experience within a national health system and she was in Holland with full midwifery care. Everyone else I know had traumatic experiences, from lack of choice, being bullied into decisions they weren't comfortable taking, student midwives with no support at the moment of birth, forceps births causing damage and my sister with a ruptured uterus gets the prize for the most inadequate treatment.

There was no way I was going to have my first baby without an independent midwife alongside me all the way. My first taste of NHS service was appointments with 3 different midwives for my first 3 antenatal appointments - what kind of care is that, and how is that supposed to give me any confidence? In the end I unfortunately had to have an emergency c-section, but had a speedy recovery, immediate bonding with my daughter and no lasting fears or physchological effects. I put this ENTIRELY down to the support I had from my independent midwife Pam Wild, and particularly her help with getting me discharged from hospital quickly and I would be very nervous of going through the process with our next child without Pam's support.(Ex Client)

Jennifer Print
Having worked very hard to get the best out of the local NHS in two pregnancies, I would not wish to entrust them with a third. The concept of a mother's right to make an informed and unharassed decision about what is most appropriate for her and her baby's safety is not respected. I do not feel that independent midwives are at all gung ho about safety and we do have the protection of a registering body. Whilst there is no insurance scheme available at all, let alone one which meets the needs of midwives and clients alike, I do not believe we should be outlawing independent midwifery by the back door by insisting that they cannot practice without it. I have a disabled child, and I do not underestimate the financial costs - which are the same whether the disability is bad luck or caused by negligence. However, if this change goes ahead I believe many more mothers, babies and families will pay a very heavy price.(mother,student antenatal teacher, La Leche League Leader)
Debi Print
I have written to all those listed plus a few more local MPs. Obviously this is pertinent to myself but I am also a Grandmother and whilst my daughter had a positive experience I am anxious that all women have the right to choose their primary carer for whatever reason. So do please keep in contact and I'll do all I can to help. (Midwifery Student almost qualified)
Michelle Print
NHS Midwifery is under intense strain, with very serious financial and staffing issues. It is ESSENTIAL that an Independent Midwifery service is available, both for the women who can not find a positive experience within the NHS and for the midwives who can no longer survive under NHS pressures. Independent Midwifery outside the influence of NHS regulation, in my opinion sets the standard for excellent quality and continuity of care and should be something for the NHS to aspire to. It must not be crushed along with the rest of the midwifery profession. With the threat of Maternity Unit closures all over the country many midwives will be left without NHS jobs and Independent Midwifery may be an option that will prevent these much needed midwives from leaving the profession entirely. Also with women\'s options becoming more limited as units close, and the worry of having to travel significant distances while in labour. Many more women will be requiring the availablity of an Independent Midwifery Service. This decision not only has implications for Independent Midwives, but for the Midwifery Profession as a whole and for the CHOICE of all women in the UK for current and future generations. We must not let this happen. (NHS Midwife)
Katie Print

I planned the birth of Maia, my first baby, as a home birth through the NHS. The labour turned out to be longer and more confusing (though not dangerous) than expected, and I was attended by 8 different midwives throughout the birth, none of which I'd met before, and ended up giving birth via an epidural and ventouse delivery, flat on my back in hospital. I subsequently had problems with breastfeeding (which involved consulting 6 different NHS midwives or BFCs) that led to a further 4 days in hospital for me and formula feeding for my daughter. I believe my feeding problems were related to my birth experience and the fact that although all the individual midwives were supportive, there was no one individual who I knew and trusted and who knew my circumstances and would take ownership of any problems.

Therefore for this birth, due in May, I have decided to employ an independent midwife as this is the only way for me to obtain the one-to-one relationship that I believe will make the world of difference to my son or daughter. I am fully aware of the lack of insurance and, while it is regrettable, I have made an informed decision that the benefits offered by indepedent midwifery care far outweigh the lack of insurance - which in any case does nothing to ensure a good outcome, merely insures against a bad one. Katie, mother of Maia, and 32 weeks pregnant with Rosie or Seth.(Client of Independent Midwife)

Julia & Graham Our first baby Print
First contraction: 10pm, 29th May
Fully dilated: 3.30 am, 30th May
2nd stage commenced: 4.20am, 30th May
Baby delivered: 5.44am, 30th May
End of 3rd stage: 6.45am, 30th May
Pain relief: TENS for 1st stage, Water (Birth Pool)
Intervention: Waters broken, Episiotomy required

The story……:

I’ve always dreaded the thought of the ‘giving birth bit’ when I one day got around to having a baby. I really dislike hospitals and find that the NHS is a convoluted organisation at the best of times, let alone when you have pregnancy hormones racing round your body.

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