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.
What inspired you to become a midwife?
My first pregnancy was complex and ended in a c section. Second time around I chose an Independent Midwife and had a wonderful experience. I joked that I had “postnatal euphoria”. I became passionate about wanting to help other women to achieve a positive experience and so decided to train as a midwife…at the age of 44.
What was the main reason for establishing Neighbourhood Midwives?
I met Annie Francis when I trained and when we qualified we worked together as South London Independent Midwives. We were both keen to be able to offer our model of care to all women via the NHS, and then, the legal requirement for full professional Indemnity insurance came in. This gave us the impetus to set up a new organization, a social enterprise that would employ midwives and thus access full insurance. We are currently negotiating to gain an NHS contract and we offer a private service across London.
Explain to me the main benefits
Probably the main benefit is continuity of care with your known and trusted midwife since the evidence has shown that this improves outcomes for mum and baby, (it is safer) and women experience higher levels of satisfaction, (they are happier). Being able to contact your midwife at any time is enormously reassuring for women and we offer all ante natal care at home, we are on call 24/7 for birth and then provide intensive postnatal care up to 6 weeks after the birth.
If I was due to have a c-section would you be able to support me?
Absolutely. We liaise closely with the hospital and help to prepare women. The woman can write a special birth plan and usually we can go into theatre with her to help with skin to skin and feeding while still in theatre. This has enormous benefits for mum and baby. Also our presence is very calming for the woman and her partner and we can talk about it afterwards, recalling all the little details that are so important to women.
Breast or bottle – what advice can you give?
This is a decision each woman must make and I would support her whatever that choice, but, the evidence is very clear that breast offers huge health benefits for mum and baby so I have a duty to inform women and I work hard to support women to succeed. Essentially a woman needs frequent, daily visits initially in order to help her overcome any initial problems and grow in confidence with feeding.
Which regions do you cover?
London, parts of Kent, Buckinghamshire, parts of Essex and Southampton.
Do you think that the growth of tv programmes like ‘One Born Every Minute’ have made women better informed or more scared?
Probably a bit of both. Women have access to all sorts of information via the internet. This is good in that they can make informed decisions but watching overly dramatic visions of birth, taken out of context, is not really helpful and can create a sense of fear. This is particularly hard if the woman has no one to discuss this with.
Can Hypnobirthing help?
Most definitely. Like everything you have to work at it and practice, but it is a very powerful technique.
What advice would you give to a first-time dad?
Try to be informed, go to classes and read. Acknowledge that you cannot necessarily make everything better in labour and you may have to be quietly supportive. Take time off work after the birth to look after your partner and book an independent or private midwife. She will support you as much as she will your partner.
If you could give one piece of advice to an expecting mum what would it be?
Be kind to yourself.
Tina was interviewed by Francine Barsam (a trainee with Digital Mums)