International Midwives' Day 2019

This Sunday, 5 May, is International Day of the Midwife, a day in which we shine the spotlight on some of the special individuals who make up the fabric of Tommy's.

Tommy’s news, 03/05/2019 

Being a midwife with Tommy’s is a little 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. We also have the pleasure to work with midwives at our different research centres and clinics. 

In honour of this day, we have sat down with two such individuals to give us an insight their roles at Tommy's and what being a midwife entails. 

Amina Hatia- Tommy's Midwife on our support line

How long have you been working with Tommy’s?

I’ve been working at Tommy’s for 3 years now.

Can you tell us a little about your role as a midwife and your work with Tommy’s?

I am one of a team of midwives who provide advice and support via the Tommy’s Pregnancy Information service. This comprises of the pregnancy information line, email and Facebook support as well answering queries via our website too.

There is a huge variety in the kinds of queries and questions we get each day – from advice on early pregnancy support, lifestyle issues, to complex health issues and baby loss.

It requires being supportive, empathetic and helping women and their families find answers often at very difficult times in their lives.

For me the core of midwifery is embedded in kindness and support – and working at Tommy’s highlights just how big a difference being listened to, supported and treated with kindness makes even during incredibly traumatic times.

What would you say is the highlight of your role?

The privilege of being trusted with women’s experiences and being able to support them when they often feel there is nowhere to turn to. Sadly, miscarriage and baby loss remain taboo subjects that families, friends, society find hard to deal with – particularly the emotional impact.

I also really value how much my knowledge base is constantly expanding due to the unique nature of the role – from signposting to services, to continuously updating my knowledge on research and changes in guidance.

Equally, what is a challenge that you face?

It’s a double-edged sword – with the privilege of supporting women and families at some of their most vulnerable times in their lives, it’s the hearing the of the emotional and physical toll of pregnancy loss. 

There are fantastic services and support groups like Tommy’s, but sadly just not enough and hearing about how we know that the disparity in care affects lives is challenging as a health care professional.

What would you say to anyone who is considering becoming a specialist midwife such as yourself?

You realise soon enough that you can never know enough, and therefore you’ll be constantly learning and updating your knowledge. 

With that comes the experience of being able to support someone who feels they have very few avenues left and helping them find a light in the tunnel or supporting them if they need to make difficult decisions. 

The role encompasses the true core skills of midwifery – advocacy, empowerment, support, advice and above all kindness.

Morag Dalton - Specialist midwife at our Edinburgh Centre 

How long have you been working with Tommy’s?

I have been working with Tommy’s for three years on the 9th of May. Previously I worked as a midwife in the obstetric triage department in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where I saw women at all stages of pregnancy and after the delivery of their babies.

Can you tell us a little about your role at the Edinburgh clinic and your work with Tommy’s?

In October 2016, we started the Tommy’s Edinburgh Preterm Birth Clinic for women with one or more risk factors which increased the risk of them having a preterm birth. 

Working closely with my Obstetric Consultant colleagues, I arrange for women to come to the clinic when they are about 16 weeks pregnant for investigations and if necessary treatments to reduce their risk of preterm birth.

I provide emotional support with referral to external agencies if required and co-ordinate support with lifestyle factors such as reducing smoking. I ensure that women are closely monitored during their pregnancies and there is a robust procedure following discharge from the clinic so that women make a smooth transition to community care.

We ask all women who come to the preterm birth clinic to give their permission to store information about their pregnancy and its outcome in the National Preterm Database.

This allows researchers throughout the UK and beyond to have access to much larger national data sets.

I also take part in the recruitment of women to C-stitch which involves randomisation of women having a cervical cerclage to different types of suture material. We have recruited more than 50 patients to this study.

Finally, I am also involved in the collection and processing of tissue samples from women attending our clinic to be stored in the Edinburgh Tommy’s Biobank for Preterm Birth related research projects.

What would you say is the highlight of your role?

The highlight of my role is when I see women start to believe that their dreams to be a mother may be a reality and begin to make plans to welcome their baby into their lives.

I feel immensely privileged to be part of their journey to motherhood and to be able provide the reassurance and support required along the way. The best part is when I see for myself the beauty of the new family unit and the profound love shown to the new baby.

Equally, what is a challenge that you face?

On a daily basis I am required to finely balance my clinical commitments and patient care with recruiting women to take part in our research studies, which are trying to understand more about preterm birth.

Occasionally I need to spend an increased amount of time with women within my care to provide the level of support which they need.

What would you say to anyone who is considering becoming a specialist midwife such as yourself?

Go for it! You will challenge yourself like never before and do things you never thought possible.

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