Meet Alanna, our new Tommy’s midwife

We recently welcomed a new midwife to the Tommy’s team, joining us with the support of government Tampon Tax funding to help provide more women and pregnant people with support, and offer a new video call service for Black and Black mixed heritage women.

Alanna started her midwifery training in 2009 and after qualifying 10 years ago has worked in different areas of midwifery, including research. Much of her career has been in community midwifery and more recently she became a specialist in infant feeding. Alongside her role at Tommy’s, Alanna also works as a midwife for an NHS Trust.

We caught up with Alanna to discuss her passion for supporting people, learning as she works, and why our team of in-house midwives can make such a difference to people on their pregnancy journey.  

Supporting and shared learning

“I’ve always been fascinated by the pregnancy journey and the amazing things women’s bodies can do. My interest began when my mum was pregnant with the first of my younger brothers 27 years ago but little did I know it would lead me down the path of midwifery as a career. I’ve loved providing continuity of care, supporting women and pregnant people through their experiences and sharing my learned wisdom with them.”

Building relationships and seeing families grow

"My favourite part of midwifery has been building relationships with women and their families, many of which I have been lucky enough to look after through more than one pregnancy. I know early pregnancy can be a very bumpy road and you often see the relief when they see a familiar face at that first antenatal appointment. It feels lovely to be able to provide some comfort in that way."

Supporting Tommy’s campaigns

“Tommy’s goals and ethos are amazing, and particularly Tommy’s campaign for support to be available after every miscarriage, not just after 3 in a row. Having cared for a lot of women who have experienced miscarriage and complications in pregnancy, it’s something I truly believe in. And having been a research midwife myself I also know how important it is to raise funds and make sure services are available for all women and pregnant people.

“I treasured the resourceful Tommy's Guide to Being Pregnant as a young student midwife and also have such lovely memories of my cousins and I listening to the Challenge Anneka Tommy's Tape on repeat which came out when I was 3! It feels really special that now, 30 years on, I'm here working for the charity, providing a new service for women with similar backgrounds to myself.”

Digital midwifery

“I wanted to use my skills in a new and different way. Usually I’m face to face with people, but my experience as a midwife and all the different areas I’ve worked in means I can transfer those skills to Tommy’s. Whether it’s via Zoom, social media, phone or emails, I aim to give the reassuring outlook and comfort needed, whatever someone is going through.

“The calls and emails we get are all very different. They’re from pregnant people who have a question or a worry, people who are planning or trying to conceive, people who have experienced loss, and from partners too – it’s really interesting and challenging and means I’m doing research and learning too every day, even 10 years into my career. We learn from each other too, Tommy’s midwives all have different areas of speciality, so we really bounce off one another.”

Extra support for Black women 

“Funded by the Tampon Tax, we’ve just started providing a new service for Black and Black mixed heritage women and pregnant people where you can request a call back or video call. 

“There have been campaigns to improve Black maternal healthcare for a long time now but still we know that Black women experience maternity care discrimination and Black women are four times more likely to die during childbirth. They also have higher rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth which is something Tommy’s is working to change. It’s clear that Black and Black mixed heritage women need more support and this new service aims to do that.

“Video calls - when you can see each other’s faces - feel much more personal and help build relationships but some people might still want to talk to us over email, or anonymously, and that’s okay too. You can ask us anything, we just ask that when you request a call you tell us what you want to discuss so we can help get the best advice and information for you in advance. 

“We can give advice, be a friendly ear to you and we can schedule follow up calls if you feel you need it, so you feel some continuity. We’re here to listen to you if you feel like you’re not being heard – we’re here to empower you, point you in a good direction and signpost the right channels so you can get the best out of your pregnancy and the best experience.

“There’s so much more we need to do to make sure every woman, every family, experiences the best possible care during their pregnancy and birth. As we develop this new service, we’re excited to hear from women and pregnant people about how else we can better support them to access information and care.”

It’s okay to question your care

“At Tommy’s we’re able to delegate time slots where we can really focus on a couple of issues and really get to the root cause of issues, to help women who aren’t sure who they might need to see, or they don’t feel confident or comfortable challenging what they might have been told by their healthcare provider. 

“It’s okay to say ‘I’m not happy with this’ if you want to challenge and explore the reasons for the advice or care etc the advice or care you’ve been given. It’s your body, your choice, your pregnancy – we’re here to help encourage that confidence. I’d like all people to feel like they have someone they can talk to, give them reassurance, and protect their mental health.”