Q&A with Emma, Tommy's Rainbow Clinic Midwife

We spoke to Emma, one of the amazing midwives based at our Rainbow Clinic in Manchester, to find out more about what she does, including the work she’s doing to help roll out more clinics across the UK.

With Rainbow Baby Day coming up, we wanted to highlight the fantastic teams at our research centres and clinics across the UK. In this blog, Rainbow Clinic Specialist Midwife Emma explains the role she plays in supporting families through who are expecting a baby after a stillbirth or neonatal loss.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? 

I've worked as a midwife for almost 10 years and have been supporting families in Rainbow Clinic since November 2019, officially taking over the role as the Rainbow Clinic Specialist Midwife in July last year. 

My passion for providing care in the Rainbow Clinic stems from the care my sister-in-law and brother-in-law received following the loss of their daughter, Grace. Grace's sister, Niamh, was born in March 2017 following the amazing care of the team at the Rainbow Clinic. Witnessing the care my family received through the Tommy’s research centre sparked my interest in the clinic. Once I started working in the Rainbow Clinic, I realised how much research is taking place at the centre. 

What is your role at the Tommy’s research centre and clinic in Manchester?  

I’m currently working as the Rainbow Clinic Specialist Midwife, with my time split between clinical care and research.  

A vital part of my role is supporting families through pregnancy after loss. We often have contact with families during the preconception period and provide antenatal care throughout their pregnancy. We even attend the birth if families ask us to be there.  

As a research midwife, I support the roll out of the Rainbow Clinic model of care to other NHS Trusts in the UK. To date, we have successfully shared our Rainbow Clinic model of care with over 35 other hospitals and supported the setup of clinics at most of these sites. What's more, I receive emails every week from other Trusts that are interested in developing a Rainbow Clinic.  

What is the Rainbow Clinic Roll-Out Study? 

The National Rainbow Clinic Roll-Out Study is currently open to recruitment at 25 sites. The aim of the study is to explore antenatal, labour, postnatal and neonatal outcomes and experiences of women and birthing people attending a Rainbow Clinic around the UK. Through this project, we hope to gain a better understanding of pregnancy and birth outcomes of our Rainbow Clinic families and ensure we are meeting their needs with the care we provide. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

The most rewarding part of my job is building a relationship with families and supporting them during their pregnancy after loss journey. Some families have sadly experienced multiple pregnancy losses which can mean they’re often very anxious leading up to appointments and need extra reassurance visits in between scheduled appointments. I'm currently in the process of getting my Midwife Ultrasound Practitioner qualification, which will allow me to offer additional scans and much-needed reassurance to our Rainbow Clinic families.  

Being a part of the rainbow pregnancy journey and often being present for the birth of their much-wanted baby is the most amazing experience. I'm so lucky to still receive updates from families who had their rainbow baby when I first started in the Rainbow Clinic almost 3 years ago. 

Why is the work happening at the Tommy’s centre in Manchester important? 

My role is so important for the women of Manchester as I provide continuity of care to families, which makes a big difference to those who are struggling with the challenges of pregnancy after loss.  

Together with the Rainbow Clinic team we’re striving to improve the care families receive during pregnancy after loss around the UK. Our aim is to roll out the model of care to as many UK hospitals as possible, to ensure there are Rainbow Clinics accessible to all. Some families are still having to travel to Manchester to have Rainbow Clinic care, and this needs to change.  

A key part of my role is making sure care is truly centred around the needs of the family, so we can help families have a good level of trust in health professionals and rebuild any which may have been broken previously. 

What other research have you been involved with in your time as a midwife? 

I’ve previously been involved in recruiting to a study on twin pregnancies, looking at data at different pregnancy time points and birth outcome to help us understand and identify potential risk factors.  

I’ve also had the opportunity to work with NHS England, reporting data after women have had a PlGF blood test taken. This is a simple blood test which can help us work out whether or not someone is at risk of developing pre-eclampsia. 

In the next couple of weeks, we are due to open a study into the non-medical needs of women and and their partners in pregnancies following a stillbirth, neonatal death or late miscarriage.