Tommy’s guest blog, 05/05/2017, Tommy’s midwife Sophie
Being a midwife at Tommy’s is very different to a traditional midwife position in a hospital.
Whilst many of our midwives are hands on in hospitals as well, at Tommy’s they work with us to provide the best information and support to women and families.
Last year, Mum’s Voice Award nominee Jess suffered the heartbreak of losing her baby boy Leo, born sleeping at 37 weeks.
Jess is pregnant again and has spoken to our midwives throughout.
‘I first heard about the Tommy’s Midwives following the loss of our first son, Leo, at 37 weeks. When we embarked on another pregnancy it was so helpful to know that there was someone at the end of the phone, who understood my grief and anxieties, without me having to explain. This alone, makes picking up the phone so much easier! I’ve contacted them several times and have always felt listened to, supported and that it was the right thing to do. They’ve really helped to validate any concerns that I've had, pointed me in the right direction if I've need further support, or just listened. The anxieties in pregnancy after loss are so far reaching, that it's been incredible to know that we can just pick up the phone and talk to someone, whatever the issue is.’
Our lovely midwife Sophie has taken time out of her busy schedule to give us an insight into what a week in the life of a Tommy’s midwife might look like!
How long have you been working at Tommy’s?
I have worked at Tommy’s for just under two years now and love being a part of such a wonderful team of midwives and charity colleagues.
Everyone is so passionate about their various roles at Tommy’s and we are so proud of all that we have achieved in recent months, especially with the successful launch of our campaigns #MovementsMatter and #AlwaysAsk, and our new marathon event - The London Landmarks Half Marathon.
What do you do when you’re not manning the Tommy’s phone line and advising the team on the most current pregnancy information?
I also work in a busy London hospital, where I care for women on the low risk birth centre, the high risk labour ward and the postnatal ward.
Being fortunate enough to be able to split my time between Tommy’s and the NHS, means that I get an incredible scope of new experiences every week.
I am so lucky that I get to help bring new life into the world on one day, and then assist on a new, far reaching pregnancy campaign the next.
Keeping my skills and knowledge up to date is incredibly important to me as a practitioner, but also vital for the care that I provide for women (and their babies)on a day to day basis.
How does your role at Tommy’s compare to what you do on your other days?
At Tommy’s, my working environment is very different to the ward setting.
At Tommy’s, my role is office based, where I have my own desk and computer, I take various phone calls and emails, reply to website comments and assist with maintaining the Tommy’s Facebook page.
We also liaise with the media to talk about our campaigns, discuss the newest published research, our miscarriage centres and any pregnancy related “trends”. We are often asked to write blogs or website content alongside our wonderful media team too.
My day at Tommy’s is punctuated by the many phone calls that we receive where we get to speak to some wonderful women (and men!) who call for advice and reassurance.
Being able to take the time to discuss someone’s pregnancy experiences, losses, journeys etc, is such a privilege - a snapshot into someone’s life. It is so wonderful that we get the opportunity to be a small part of that too. All from just one phone call!
We are overjoyed that our free phone line can make such a big difference to the service users.
The other half of my week consists of working on the wards doing 12.5 hr shifts, which can be both physically and mentally very demanding. But it is also wholly rewarding.
Each woman that we encounter will need different support, reassurance, procedures, tests, care plans etc. Being able to provide a wide variety of care options means that a midwife’s day is never the same!
Every woman and every pregnancy is different and so we pride ourselves in being able to offer tailor made care - whether that is facilitating a woman’s wish for a water birth, or assisting a new mum to breastfeed her baby for the first time.
Our days are full of special little moments, that very few get the chance to be involved in.
I am so lucky that my working week consists of two such wonderful job roles!
How can you help couples who are going through difficult times in pregnancy or after having lost a baby?
All of us on the team are bereavement trained, and although we are not trained counsellors, we have all experienced loss first hand – delivering angel babies and caring for bereaved parents on numerous occasions.
Pregnancy loss can affect women and their families very differently and we welcome anyone who feels that a friendly chat might help them to process their grief and understand their thoughts and emotions at an awfully difficult time.
We can also point women in the direction of more support via different agencies, charities or professionals who specialise in support after pregnancy loss.
Many calls are focused on specific pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia, placenta praevia, obstetric cholestasis, reduced fetal movements, toxoplasmosis, abdominal pain, and vaginal bleeding to highlight just a few.
We often get calls from women asking where to go for assessment if they are concerned or for more detailed information on a condition that they may have recently been diagnosed with.
We really do get such a wide range of phone call topics and we are happy to talk through anything and everything!
How does your role divide between pregnancy advice and bereavement support?
It mostly varies from day to day. Sadly, some days we receive a high volume of calls from women after pregnancy loss.
Many women call us to seek further information or referral to one of our miscarriage or rainbow clinics, others call for a friendly ear and to tell us their story.
Other days our calls focus more on pregnancy health – both physical and mental health.
What would you say to a woman who is concerned about phoning?
I can’t tell you how many times a day I hear the phrase “this is probably a silly question but…”! To us, no question is too silly to ask.
We believe that every woman should feel confident in asking for help from healthcare professionals when she is concerned about the health of herself or her growing baby. Hence the “birth” of our #AlwaysAsk campaign.
If you want to get in touch with our midwives, you can phone them for free from 9 – 5, Monday – Friday on 0800 0147 800. They’re always happy to help!
If you need advice or guidance, take a look at our midwife led pregnancy information pages.
From antenatal care, to exercise to labour and birth, our pregnancy information has it covered.
At Tommy's we have a team of in-house midwives who guide our Pregnancy Information Service and respond to queries from pregnant women who are having pregnancy complications