Neighbourhood Midwives

  1. Sleeping while you are pregnant – Why you might not be able to sleep, what’s happening to your body. How to get a good nights sleep, useful tips.

We all know that the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are characterized by a desire to sleep anywhere and anytime. What some women are surprised to discover is that the rest of pregnancy may be plagued by sleep disturbance. Ironic or what?

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Neighbourhood Midwives – A brief history of who we are and why we have chosen to work in this way

With the end of 2017 and our first year of providing an NHS midwifery service completed it feels the right time to give some background as to why we chose to set up an independent midwifery organisation, to describe our journey to date and to share our goals for 2018 and beyond.

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You’re pregnant, how exciting!  But why don’t you feel fantastic? Well on top of keeping the most exciting secret you’ve ever had in your life, your body might be changing, demanding your attention in various annoying ways: morning sickness, feeling unbelievably tired and suddenly growing boobs!

So what can you do during this time to help you feel better and to optimise health for you and your baby?

Here I examine three aspects of pregnancy wellbeing in the first trimester (the time till you’re 12 weeks pregnant): morning sickness, tiredness and nutrition.

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I have read about and listened to as many of the responses to the review as I could over the past week. On balance, I think they are largely very positive, I am heartened by the enthusiasm from midwives and other health professionals, while recognising, as we did during the review process itself, that many will be anxious about what it means for them personally.

What has been fascinating though is how many statements of fact have been made about how it will work, especially the NHS personal maternity care budget, which are based on nothing contained within the review itself because we deliberately didn’t set up rigid structures to impose on everyone – the point of pioneer sites and pilots is that they have the freedom to explore how these new ideas might evolve, based on some principles and guidance and an outcome or destination you want to arrive at but with the expectation that there will be lots of adaptation and change along the way.

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I caught up with Tina Perridge co-founder of Neighbourhood Midwives, an independent midwifery service providing care to women in London and The South East. Neighbourhood Midwives was set up in 2013 with Annie Francis, Louise Wilby and Eleanor May Johnson.

Tina is a real inspiration and talks a lot of sense. In an ideal world all women should have continuity of care during pregnancy, birth and beyond as it improves outcomes and leads healthier babies.

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An interview with Katie Selman: mother of three and ex-client.


What made you decide to choose an Independent midwife?

During my mid twenties, I was working in a large office with lots of women who were pregnant or had young children. I heard stories from them of the situations they’d faced at hospital during their births or post-natal period that filled me with dread. I was living in Wandsworth, known as Nappy Valley due to its high birth rate so I didn’t need much convincing that the local hospitals were overrun and unable to cope with the many women passing through their doors. As a child, I had had a bad experience at hospital and still as an adult, was highly uncomfortable in hospital or clinical environments so I was worried about going into hospital in labour and shutting down.

By chance, I saw an article about Annie from NM in the local SW Magazine. The headline was “One woman, one midwife” which summed up all my concerns. I kept it and once I was pregnant, I called Annie and we met to discuss the options. I still remember that first meeting. It turned out she had delivered a baby on our house with previous owners!

There was no question from then on that we would have an independent midwife looking after us. The care during my pregnancy was superb and I stopped seeing my NHS midwife after my 21wk scan – I simply didn’t need to as I had all I needed in Annie and my second midwife, Tina. Initially I had been planning a hospital birth with Annie attending, but as the time drew near, I strongly felt I wanted to be at home if I could be and that is testament to the relationship I had built with Annie and Tina.

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The pelvic floor is a part of the body which suddenly comes into sharp focus when you’re pregnant and especially afterwards. Generally because we start to wet ourselves when we laugh, cough, sneeze or jump! Unfortunately, our reference point is now the celebrities on social media and not the real women in our communities as it used to be which makes the shame and confusion around the symptoms we all have with our pelvic floors stay hidden.

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I am very lucky, I have experienced both the joy as a mother of having a midwife I knew really well attend my babies’ births and I now work as a midwife who knows the women she cares for.

Before I was even pregnant with my second baby, I knew that I wanted a different kind of midwife. I had previously given birth in a large obstetric unit, cared for by a variety of unknown midwives and felt that the whole experience was impersonal and that I was ‘processed’ through a birth machine. I knew that I wanted to give birth at home second time round and it was really important to me that I knew who was going to walk through the door on the day I was in labour. I was very fortunate that I met Kay at an information evening on waterbirth and she agreed to be my midwife when I became pregnant. Kay provided all my antenatal care at my home and she cared for me when I had my third baby as well – even better, all of this was provided free on the NHS! Kay got to know not just me, but my whole family.

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As a midwife I thought I knew all about continuity of care.

I trained in the heady days following the publication of Changing Childbirth. Dept of Health 1993. This introduced the concept of the three C’s, choice, continuity and control. At the time, numerous caseloading groups were set up to offer continuity. One midwife carrying a caseload of women for whom she is responsible. She plans and manages their care, is on call to them and together with a back up midwife and with access to specialist referrals she provides all the midwifery care. This was seen as the gold standard of midwifery care where a close trusting relationship could develop and all the evidence demonstrated improved outcomes for mother and baby as well as greater satisfaction for women and midwife.

So how is it that more than two decades on we are still chasing this elusive continuity?

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Today more than 300 women will give birth in London, many for the first time. An equal number will discover that they are pregnant.

What can they expect from the capital’s maternity services?

Well, we have an NHS which delivers safe care free at the point of delivery. In addition London has some of the leading Hospitals in the UK and they offer tests, techniques and technologies which are world class.


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