ON A QUEST TO IMPROVE BEREAVEMENT SERVICES | MELANIE, BEREAVEMENT MIDWIFE FOR THE #ITSTILLTAKESAVILLAGEBLOGSERIES

Welcome to the latest addition to the It Still Takes a Village – Working in Baby Loss Interview Series where we take a closer look at those who dedicate their day to day to preventing baby loss and supporting those affected. You can read more interviews, here.

 

 

Bereavement Midwives have the power to shift an absolutely devastating experience for families, into one that contains memories of love, care and positivity. Its hard to believe that that is possible given the situation – but it is. At the centre of such loss, is love. Providing space and services that facilitate this balance is crucial. Many sadly aren’t enabled to do the entirety of what they wish to do for families, and many hospitals and trusts are behind the curve. Yet, despite it all, so many are fighting to improve services for families. Please, meet Melanie… 

 

So, to start us off, please can you let us know a little about your current role?

My current role is working as a Labour Ward Coordinator for 30hrs per week and a Bereavement Midwife for 7.5 hours per week at Kingsmill Hospital in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust). I have been a Midwife for 7 and a half years and prior to this I worked as a Neonatal nurse for 10 years. My Bereavement Midwife role started in April 2016 following our hospitals CQC inspection which identified that we did not have a Bereavement Midwife in post. As my work involves two roles my days vary a great deal and it can be really difficult at times to separate the two.

 

What are you currently working on? Is there a particular project or aim that you’d like to share with people.

I am currently working with our hospital Chaplaincy Dept, bereaved parents and our local Nottinghamshire SANDS group to develop a ‘Bereavement HUB’ within our Trust. Our overall vision for the Hub is a designated place where parents and their families can be signposted to specialist services if they are required; to include specialist bereavement counselling, support for siblings, a place to run our monthly bereavement support group ‘Snowdrops & Butterflies’ and a resource centre for books and information around baby loss/bereavement support. We would like this to be a quiet and peaceful place where the Bereavement Midwife and chaplains would be available as a drop-in service and where Consultant follow-up appointments could take place without the hustle and bustle of a clinic environment. Other charities could potentially offer a service such as SANDS, the Laura Centre, and the Miscarriage Association.

What motivated you to do the job that you are doing now?

My motivation for becoming a Neonatal Nurse/Bereavement Midwife came from my own family’s experience of neonatal death. My Aunty sadly lost her 1st baby Jodie at the age of following a hypoxic incident during her labour and birth. Despite only being a young child at the time my family were always very open about what had happened to Jodie and I grew up seeing her photos and openly talking about her. 

 

 

 

In what ways does your current role allow you to get involved in the baby loss cause?

Due to my limited Bereavement Midwife hours my role focuses mainly on bereavement support following the loss of a baby within obstetrics (babies >20 weeks) and currently my remit does not cover early losses on gynaecology.

 

What are the biggest frustrations or constraints that you face in supporting those affected by baby loss or preventing baby loss in the first place?

My biggest frustration/constraint sadly has to be the time allocated to do my bereavement support role.

 

 Our overall vision for the Hub is a designated place where parents and their families can be signposted to specialist services if they are required.

 

Do you think that Baby Loss is still a taboo, and if so, why? Do you encounter issues with it being a taboo in your day to day work?

People do still really struggle to talk about baby loss openly but I think this is so much better than it was 2 years ago when I started in the role. For the last 2 years we have held an awareness stand within our hospital for Baby Loss Awareness Week. It is so humbling to see the amount of people (men and women) who come to the stand for a candle to light during the wave of light, who share their story of the baby they lost all those years ago. It always appears like such relief to them that they are finally able to openly talk about their baby after all the time that has passed.

 

My passion to make a families birth and follow up care experience a positive one and one they can look back on in time as a positive memory of their baby’s journey.

 

Who else do you work alongside in terms of baby loss support or prevention? Are there any charities that support you, or perhaps a colleague that you couldn’t manage without?

Since starting in my role I have set up (along with the help of chaplaincy and bereaved parents) a bereavement support group called ‘Snowdrops and Butterflies’. We meet twice weekly for 2 hours. The group is also supported by our local Nottinghamshire SANDS group. I work very closely with chaplaincy within my role and also access support from the lead nurse for end of life care when I need to ‘off load’ which is really important.

 

 

When the job is hard, what one thing reminds you to keep on keeping on?

My passion to make a families birth and follow up care experience a positive one and one they can look back on in time as a positive memory of their baby’s journey.

 

We are in a shift change with the understanding and awareness of baby loss. What would you say to someone just starting out in a job associated to baby loss?

To seek out others who can inspire you and keep you motivated. It can sometimes feel a really lonely place. I find meeting with others drives me to continue in my quest to improve the services we can provide to families and to keep me updated with new initiatives. Twitter is great for this too!!

 

It’s likely that a newly bereaved parent is reading this. What would you like to say to them?

That they are not alone, the death of a baby can feel so isolating. I would encourage them to access the support of their bereavement midwife and in time a support group; meeting other parents who have experienced the same devastating loss. As a Bereavement Midwife it is great to see parents coming together to support each other through differing stages of their grief journey. It also helps parents to see how far they have come when new members attend which can be so inspiring.

 

 

We have some ambitious targets for baby loss currently in the UK. What are your specific hopes for the future in terms of maternity and baby loss?

That Bereavement Midwifery services will be more equitable across NHS Trusts in the UK. A greater emphasis on the care of women <20 weeks gestation as these families are just as important.


You can find out more about Amy here

 Twitter | Stillbirth Claim Wesbite | Gregory Abrams Davidson Website


it takes a village

This blog post is part of an ongoing spotlight on those working in baby loss. To read more from It Still Takes a Village series, visit the hub page here.

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