Ask any women her birth story and she will recount it with easy, there is no experience that can compare to bringing a tiny baby into the arms of a loving family. The effects of a birth experience stay with a woman her whole life. Her experience can effect her subsequent births, her health, her relationships, in fact all aspects of her life. My birth experience profoundly affected me and changed me and my life forever.
What can we do to help women have a positive birth experience?
By working together to make sure that services are the best they can be keeping women and families both medically and emotionally safe.
There is much to be done to improve maternity services, it can at times feel like an over whelming task. Yet there is the possibility that together we can make the changes needed, we can put families first, and provide maternity care that not only is safe, but respects choice, is based on kindness and compassion, and cares for maternity staff too.
All those involved in caring for families have to want to make it better and be prepared to stand up and work hard to see areas that need to be improved. This will mean difficult conversations at times, admitting mistakes and also putting personal views aside. It means truly engaging with families and making them partners, co-designing and developing services with them. It also means looking at ourselves and what we are bringing to the table, as well as the culture we work in.
Together we can be the change, for women, babies, partners and families everywhere.
My passion is to help others to have their voices heard and to be a part of improving maternity services using my own experience, but also my experience of working in maternity services.
Im involved in a number of projects, and have supported some amazing people working hard to also make a difference.
MatExp – Improving maternity experiences.
Im proud to be part of #MatExp, a wonderful grassroots campaign that uses the WhoseShoes?® approach to help identify and help improve our national maternity services.
By means of workshops in local hospital trusts, users of maternity services are brought together with those who care for women and their families to join conversations about their experiences of maternity care, share what really made a difference to them personally and talk about ways that care can be improved. These workshops enable health care professionals and local communities to listen and work in partnership with women and their families to find ways to improve local and national maternity services. Anyone can take part whether your a maternity service user, community group or healthcare professional, from chief executive to volunteer, all are welcome to attend and share.
On twitter using the hashtag #Matexp and in the #Matexp facebook group there are many amazing people sharing personal stories, experiences, achievements but also how they are actively trying to improve care both in their local hospitals and nationally too.
Personally for me #Matexp is truly wonderful and something I feel so privileged to be part of. After the poor care with my first birth which resulted in birth trauma and PTSD, #Matexp has given me hope.
Hope that things can change.
Hope that women are at the centre of maternity care.
Hope that the culture of birth and our maternity services will improve.
Hope that the voices of women will finally be heard, listened to and acted upon.
Knowing that there are so many people who genuinely want to work to improve services and make care better and who truly value women has helped me heal and also restored my belief in maternity care. It has given me the opportunity to to tell my story and then feel part of improving things to make care given better for others, something I am so passionate about. It has also given me confidence to be bold and change things in my own job and NHS trust. This led to me being awarded ‘The Thrive Mental Health Star Award‘ 2018 for my work.
More importantly #Matexp has given me hope that one day we will provide a maternity experience that is individualised, respectful, treats families with dignity and allows for informed choice. That puts a woman, her baby, her family and their needs first. I hope it will mean birth experiences that do not result in trauma, but that even under difficult circumstances will make a woman feel loved, protected and supported.
Yes I have hope, because finally not only has my voice been heard but the voices of women and their families everywhere are being heard.
So if like me your passionate about making a difference get involved. You never know where it will take you.