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The Northern Maternity and Midwifery Festival 2019

A few weeks ago I attended my first ever Northern and Midwifery Festival at Old Trafford Football Stadium in Manchester. Although the event is primarily aimed at midwives, I have a real passion for understanding more about what is going on in the birthing world in order to help me to expand my knowledge and keep up to date with current practices.

I started the day by having a look around at some of the stalls and found it really inspiring to see the different innovations in technology, the posters that midwives had created after carrying out research and some of the inspirational charities that had been set up in order to help support families and then headed over to the first seminar. It was brilliant to see such a great turn out with birth professionals attending from lots of different regions, everyone there being passionate about maternity care.  

The first seminar of the day was about a research project which discussed continuity of care and the study showed overwhelming results stating that parents were much more satisfied with their pregnancy and birthing experience if they had the same midwife throughout the duration as labour as it allowed the parents to build up rapport and trust. This is something that I have previously heard discussed whilst being at the Airedale Hospital Maternity Voice Partnership as something that mothers had often fed back on after their baby was born.

The discussion then went onto Professor Soo Downe and Sheena Byrom OBE who that very same week had released their book ‘Squaring the Circle’ which revisits research around normal births and theory and practice in the technological age. I thoroughly enjoyed their talk and was extremely motivated being a hypnobirthing teacher by some of their findings and discussion around changing the way women are looked after throughout the duration of their pregnancy and birth. Evidently passionate about encouraging more people to challenge back on old and unreliable evidence around birth by eradicating FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real and fighting for better support for parents.  

Jenny the Midwife (Jennifer Clarke) who is very well know midwife on twitter does a lot of campaigning for skin to skin and was an absolute pleasure to watch. Her sense of humour filled the room full of laughter, telling her story of how she kept writing ‘skin to skin’ on a white board in the operating theatre for caesarean sections in the hospital where she worked, and although it kept being rubbed off she went back in time and time until eventually she painted it on the wall where it could no longer be rubbed off. The hospital later removed this and creating a permanent poster with it on – really showing how her persistence and passion truly paid off. Her message was clear, challenge back and fight for what’s best for mother and baby. A truly motivating talk.

A few other really important talks that I went to throughout the day were those from More Than A Tick Box and the Chair of the Lancashire MVP.

More Than A Tick Box have only been established for little over a year and have already done incredible things in order to help raise awareness around maternal mental health in pregnancy and postnatally. Their main focus is not just to talk about mental health but to take action and do something about it. Both Lisa and Donna who founded the campaign have both suffered with maternal mental health issues previously and were truly inspirational women wanting to ensure that change happens for the women and families affected by maternal mental health. A few ways of how they are taking action are through helping to improve the resources available to professionals through seminars and consultancy as well as providing support to women through a toolkit of questions which they can present to their caregiver when asking for more support with their mental health. Being based in Leeds and Huddersfield as I was absolutely thrilled to see such a fantastic turn out for their talk – if you want to find out more information on the incredible work they are doing head over to their website – www.morethanatickbox.com

My last seminar of the day was by Francesca Seed who is the chair of the Lancashire MVP, being part of the MVP at Airedale Hospital I was really interested to see the sorts of things this MVP was doing. MVP stands for ‘Maternity Voice Partnership which is a group of service users who come together with their local hospital in order to discuss how the hospital is doing, discuss feedback and look at improvements and changes that can be made in order to help make services better for future users. Each NHS Trust has a MVP and it’s an excellent way for users of the service to be able to provide feedback into their local trust. If it’s something that you are interested in getting involved in or would like to give feedback to your local MVP ask your midwife, GP or hospital how you can get in contact.

During one last swoop of the stands I was delighted to bump into one of my KG Hypnobirthing trainers -Kati Edwards. Kati is the founder of Birth You In Love based in Manchester and beyond. Kati is a doula, hypnobirthing teacher and creates some incredible birth poetry. I was absolutely thrilled to see her and even stopped to take a selfie! Have a look at her website www.birthyouinlove.com to see some of the incredible poetry that she has written.

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