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The Fourth Trimester of Pregnancy Theory

The Fourth Trimester of Pregnancy Theory

Ever wish you had a way of helping women know they're normal and good enough?

The fourth trimester theory can help with that.

I have a really good friend. We’ll call her Pippa.

I was thrilled to go and help Pippa when she’d just had her baby. You know the kind of thing. Keep the fridge stocked, keep bringing her water for breastfeeding support because it drains you dry. Hold the baby when she asked. Empty the bins. Tell her she was the best mother on the planet.

I loved every second of it, when you have a midwifery background and you just get to do nice things for someone you love, it’s the best.

When I left it was November and Pippa’s baby was ten days old. She said cheerily ‘Come back at Christmas!’ (we tend to meet up at Christmas) ‘He’ll be sleeping through by then.’

May 2, 2019 0

Debating Difficult and Emotive Midwifery Topics: 5 Strategies

Debating Difficult and Emotive Midwifery Topics: 5 Strategies

Have you ever struggled with a midwifery debate, unsure whether to share your point of view or whether to leave it be?
Having run a 25,000ish member midwifery forum for ages, I’ve seen a lot of arguments. I’ve also been there for some fierce discussions in real life. And I''ve got stuff wrong (see point 4 below).
It’s important to know your take on debating because a) women depend on us advocating for them b) it's pretty easy to waste energy/get hurt.
In midwifery, it's all personal.
You also don't want to offend other staff, what you believe is lively discussion is a personal attack for someone else who's just been through something.
I definitely don't have all the answers but here's how I tend to wade in (or not...)
*This is my way of doing things. Yours might be different! Totally fine, let me know in a comment.
1. Decide Whether You Should Get Involved at All
When someone says something awful, or there's a debate already in session, check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Are you wanting to learn? Share your knowledge? Stand up for the women? Enjoy the art of debate?
Or does that quote about 'getting high on the fumes of self-righteousness' apply 😉
It’s easy to make this mistake online.
I’m passionate about the right to abortion, my novel is focussed around this.
But these days I try to understand people who have the opposite belief to me, sometimes their views are valuable in helping test mine, and people don't change their mind if you just tell them ‘you’re wrong' over and over.
2. Check Context
Sharing with an aspiring midwife that yes, women can make the choice to have an elective caesarean for no medical reason = great.
Discussing ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ especially the bit when the doctor says ‘home delivery is for pizza’ = good thing.
Getting into a debate with your a family member who's just said 'AT LEAST YOU KNOW YOU CAN GET PREGNANT' to a mutual friend having her second miscarriage...
Look, I know this isn't an empathetic thing to say. But taking it up with her then and there was a ***bag move on my part, probably more to do with me grieving than anything else.
You have to reliably stick up for what you believe in, but if you choose the wrong moment or voice, and shame people, they can’t hear you.
Use your life experience, gut instinct and what your Mum taught you about politeness to decide if this is an okay time to talk.

3. But Don’t Just Let Things Go
Midwifery topics are personal because they concern women’s decisions and the outcome for their family. We’re accountable for their well-being.
If a doctor/midwife/other person is not offering true informed consent…
...for instance saying ‘this baby can’t come out that way’ re breech
…. you can say something like ‘we both know that’s not true, should I get some information for us?’ (dive for AIMS leaflet.)
Then you can pick up the conversation later.
Notice you don’t say ‘that’s an appalling way to offer someone informed consent’.
It’s important to stay factual and have compassionate understanding, even if you really disagree. Otherwise they’ll just feel attacked.
Plus, no-one's better than anyone else: it's important for all of us to understand different points of view. 
I like sociologist Brene Brown’s definition of civility for moments like this:
‘Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process. It is about negotiating interpersonal power so everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody’s is ignored'
4. Know When to Leave
Basically, when there are threats or violence of dehumanisation, it’s time to walk away. The threat of physical violence is the first step in physical violence being committed (see 'Less Than Human', David Smith).
This can be overt, for instance if someone online threatens to beat you up (or rape's lovely isn't it), block them and contact the authorities.
But it can be more subtle.
For instance, debating about termination of pregnancy is okay.
Deciding on whether the death penalty for termination of pregnancy might be an appropriate punishment, is not.
It might be you need to contact a manager or professional body about stuff like this.
We got this wrong in my midwifery forum the other day.
Trump’s government has been working on several states to try and get the death penalty for women having terminations.
We let a debate continue after a member suggested ‘a life for a life’ was an okay belief.
We were trying to be tolerant of opinions but we should have removed that comment and member immediately, there has to be a line where we protect people.
5. Be Kind
I'm actually quite good at this, I think it's one of the reasons I've managed to keep the midwifery forum going.
For instance, a recent passionate, angry response from a midwife was because she'd recently cared for a baby who'd died. Only by assuming there was more to the story and listening carefully to the midwife in question did we figure that out.
My Mum was a nurse who’s raised three kids who all went on to caring professions.
If we were involved in conflict at school her first response was ‘and what did you do? what’s your part in this?’
I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself 'manually' as an adult because anger doesn’t come naturally. This means I've been a target for bullying sometimes.
But I find it great for modding, because I always try and understand everyone’s point of view and be non-judgemental in my assumptions.
In an honest debate, think the most generous thing about whoever disagrees with you and you’ll get far more out of the process.
Differences of opinion are a good thing, they prove you’re not in an echo chamber. We know these are dangerous because they cause division rather than working together.
You have to be yourself. But you need to do it kindly. 
And this is how I approach midwifery debate!
I’d love to hear from you, anything you’ve learnt from this you can implement?
What are your midwifery debate tips?
Lots of love xxx

April 26, 2019 3

Personal Statement School FAQs

Personal Statement School FAQs

With Personal Statement School you’ll be writing your statement to show the best of yourself and you won’t be alone – I’ll support you with every step, from identifying your transferable skills to knowing what areas of midwifery to research and write about.

Nearly 1000 aspiring midwives have gone through this course now and not one of them has asked for a refund because they thought it wasn’t helpful.

Instead, there are rave reviews and this process has helped open the door to lots of university offers!

In case you're wondering about anything, here are some questions you may have about Personal Statement School to determine if it's for you.


Isn’t this cheating?

People are really passionate about midwifery - is your support ethical, and are you not just profiting from this excitement?

I’ll do it closer to the deadline!

I want to get my work experience done before starting my statement.

I just don't have time right now.

Any tips on getting started? I don't want to sign up for something when I'm not able to get going.

I'm a practical person, not an academic or a writer. Will Personal Statement School still help?

If you don’t give actual feedback on my statement, will it actually be useful?

Isn’t this cheating?

There's less competition than ever, is this really necessary?

What’s your refund policy?


Isn't this cheating?

In a word, no. In Personal Statement School you’ll be writing your own statement.

I coach you on how to complete a successful application. We cover midwifery knowledge, professionalism and the core philosophy of midwifery, including advocacy.

I'll show you how you’ll draw on your own life to show that you understand these essential concepts.

I also want you to have the techniques you need to take forward to apply for jobs when you’re qualifying.

If you feel like getting help somehow makes you a lesser applicant, fair enough.

But I’ve worked with enough excellent midwives who didn’t get a spot first time to believe that this isn’t the case.

I know many now qualified midwives who used Personal Statement School and they're amazing professionals!

My aim is to shorten the learning curve for you so you don’t have to do multiple years and cycles.

I suspect we lose excellent midwives just because their application technique isn’t quite there the first year and then they do not continue to pursue this career.

My goal is to assist as many aspiring midwives as possible, by removing the obstacle of not knowing how to complete a successful Personal Statement.


People are really passionate about midwifery - is your support ethical, and are you not just profiting from this excitement?

That's a really good question. With so much absolute rubbish being aimed at parents (£100 sterilisers presented as a 'must have' when you can just use Milton tablets?) and formula companies trying to give midwives free pens and education to advertise their milk, I can completely understand why you're sceptical about anyone making money in this field.

MidwifeDiaries, The Secret Community, conferences, services and books all took so much time and effort that I made far below minimum wage for years. I'm happy to do this, it's a vocation for me. I believe that the essential skills of good communication are vital not only to the Personal Statement process, but to midwifery in general. We want good applicants to shine and sometimes they haven't written a statement or interviewed in a long time. No shame in needing some support and practice in this area so they may follow their dreams.

I think this resistance to getting support for a midwifery career is linked to undervaluing midwifery in general.

People completely understand why you’d pay for application support to get into medicine or dentistry. They’re good, worthwhile careers, it’s an investment and you’re not expected to know it all already.

But midwifery is linked to motherhood which means we think people should ‘instinctively’ get it and if they get help applying then they’re somehow not right for it.

Of course, there are people not cut out for midwifery and part of being an advocate for this community is having those difficult conversations with applicants.

But that’s a million miles away from someone dreaming of caring for women but not knowing where to start to put that into a professional career application.

Also, in terms of my support specifically, the midwifery internet space is a pretty small community. I've been doing this since 2013 and if it was in any way unethical, you’d know about it!

Instead, I've been asked to speak at the Normal Physiological Birth Conference, the RCM conference, and lots of student conferences; I've had a novel published with a major midwifery publisher 'Pinter and Martin'; and my book 'Becoming a Student Midwife' is on University reading lists for application support.

I don't get sponsored and I’m not interested in writing or doing anything I don’t believe in.

It would have been far easier and more lucrative for me to settle into a nice community midwifery job - or any job for that matter!

But like most of us, I’ve experienced loss I had no control over and now I FOLLOW MY DREAMS no matter what. I do midwifery application support because I find it so rewarding.

You can't fake anything in a midwifery application, it's too complicated and you'd be found out immediately at the interview stage anyway.

But you can learn how to present the best of yourself to admissions tutors, and this is what I am here to help you do.


I’ll do it closer to the deadline!

Okay, but...are you waiting for ‘the right time’?

It might be that this isn’t the right time but writing a midwifery personal statement is hard and time consuming.

Even if you’re someone who brings 100% effort normally, you can stumble with this process because it’s very difficult to write about yourself.

Are you sure your brain isn’t just giving you excuses not to get started? What do you gain if you put it off? I’ve seen so many candidates leave it to the last minute because once you give in to one excuse, it’s so easy to make others, relying on the fear kicking in near the deadline – but you don’t want that nervousness to come through in your statement.

I find when candidates start and get through the first resistance it’s such a relief. And when you’ve finished your statement and read it through it’s an incredible feeling which will give you confidence.

Having a statement you’re really proud of really makes the process far more relaxing and exciting. Once you get that first draft done in a timely manner, you have loads of time to review your statement, which can be the secret ingredient to pushing it even further and getting it to stand out. Perspective is wonderful.

To encourage you to honour your goal of getting your statement done before the deadline, midwifery applicants who join Personal Statement School during April get my bonus training ‘5 current issues in midwifery to inspire you and to mention in your application’. It’ll be gone after this!

And you’ll be training your brain to tackle hard assignments head on, exactly what you’ll need to be successful once you are in the degree course.


I want to get my work experience done before starting my statement.

Awesome that you have work experience, midwifery is a practical profession so this counts for a lot, but I would still get your statement written early for a couple of reasons.

a) You can write about what you’re going to gain from work experience. e.g.

‘I have arranged to shadow a community midwife later this year, and from this I hope to see how midwives achieve care and compassion with a busy workload. This will also give me the opportunity to talk to midwives about the challenges and privileges, and to the women about what they want from midwifery care. I organised this as I know nothing can prepare you for midwifery apart from the job itself’.

See how writing about what you want to gain shows your amazing insight?

You'll look out for more learning opportunities on your work experience too.

You can then add a line or two of specific insight before you send it off, but you know basically what will be in your statement.

b) This will also give you some great stuff to talk about at interview.

If the placement doesn’t work out, that’s a shame but you can be totally transparent and honest about why and you’ve shown you know why it would have been a good idea. And you’ll be even keener to get started!


I just don't have time right now.

Yeah, I have huge time pressures too.

The thing is, we all get the same 24 hours in a day and it depends on what you prioritise right now.

Can you give yourself a few hours a week?

It’s all you need. Book it into your calendar, get someone else to have the kids, explain how important this is to your future. You’re modelling such amazing behaviour.

As women (if there are any guys applying, you’re likely caring people so this applies to you too) we tend to not give our dreams the time and attention they deserve.

We think we can do it with the scraps left over.

But by prioritising this task you’re taking the first step to putting the rights and needs of women at the top of your to-do list. It’s a very worthy thing.

Can I suggest you subscribe to Personal Statement School and then find a few hours a week to go and sit in the library or a cafe and work through the modules?

Even the impact this has on your mental health is worth it.

(I carved out an hour a day dedicated to writing for years. Although I did not feel like I had the time, I did it anyway, and somehow made it work. You can too!).


Any tips on getting started? I don't want to sign up for something when I'm not able to get going.

Yeah, it is really hard. Most of us applying are from the UK and therefore don't have a good relationship with compliments, and this is basically a long list of compliments to ourselves!

Also, if you're female you're probably used to 'one downmanship' or 'one down womanship' i.e. when someone says you're good at something you come up with a reason why it's a fluke or isn't true.

The blank page is something we all struggle with though.

I'd say make a start. Stop overthinking it.

If you have loads of conversations going on in your head you will talk yourself out of it. Brains want us to not take any risks and the emotional exposure of starting writing something with so much riding on it is hard.

But, being a midwife is all about courage.

This is what I do for writing: make a deal with yourself to concentrate on your writing for one hour. You have to sit there with a blank piece of paper and brainstorm all the reasons you'll make an excellent student midwife. Even things like 'I write really neatly which will be good for notes'. The rules are that you are only allowed to write or to stare out the window. No googling for ideas, no calling up your mum. Just sitting and writing or thinking about writing for one full hour.

Then plan another hour in a few days time and spend it circling the top 15 reasons you'll make a good midwife.

You can then come up with a structure (Personal Statement School can help with choosing the ideas and the structure) and you'll have a solid plan.

It doesn't have to be perfect, you just need to start.

Think of all the potential midwives who never even got their application sent off. You're not one of them! If you wait until you 'feel' ready there's a real possibility you'll still be chilling out watching Netflix when the time to send your statement comes along.


I'm a practical person, not an academic or a writer. Will Personal Statement School still help?

Well, good news. The odds are you'll write a sensible, to the point personal statement which emphasises skills like compassion.

Midwives don't need to be highly academic (though there are roles where this is extremely helpful - but there are many more roles where you need to be good with people, dilemmas, have stamina etc.)

Write about what you love doing, in midwifery terms and it'll be fine.

Personal Statement School will show you how to find your experiences and skills and structure them, while referring to the research.


Why are you doing this instead of practising midwifery?

Long story involving mild suicidal ideation and night-shift but I did this as well as midwifery for quite a while. I love clinical midwifery and will be going back to it soon. Application support is one of many ways of helping the midwifery community. Essentially, I love words, love helping people express themselves and I'm particularly fired up by supporting aspiring students and newly qualified midwives.


If you don’t give actual feedback on my statement, will it still be useful?

I don't look at your statement, this is a self directed course, and if you don't learn well in an environment where you are self-directed, this may not be the best fit for you.

However, nearly 1000 aspiring midwives have gone through Personal Statement School and not one of them has asked for a refund because they didn't find it helpful. Instead, there are rave reviews (scroll down).

If you do want one to one help, drop me a line on


There's less competition than ever, is this really necessary?

Numbers of applicants have dropped since the bursary was taken away from training student midwives, but the competition for midwifery is still very high.

Birth is an amazing part of people’s lives and many want to be part of that.

Also, being a midwife means friends and family tend to be proud of you (rightly so) and you’re a useful person to have around.

It also attracts applicants of many ages.

It’s still a course which nearly 7000 people apply for every year, and while statistics vary it’s apparent that midwifery is one of the hardest courses to enter in the UK, probably coming a close third to medicine and dentistry.

Here is a breakdown of applicants per available places in 2019:

700 applicants for 33 places Cardiff
700 applicants for 70 places CCU
800 applicants for 28 places Chester
300 applicants for 17 places Lincoln
1500 applicants for 60 places SHU
1200 applicants for 60 places Stafford
1000 applications for 18 places UWE

But please don’t let this put you off! Many of these applicants will not be successful, due to lack of qualifications, lack of understanding of what midwifery is about, and poor Personal Statements.

Many make the mistake of thinking that if they “write from the heart” they will have a successful application. Passion is important – but your personal statement/interview must focus on the skills that are going to make you a wonderful midwife as opposed to just talking about how much you love midwifery!

This is a learnt skill! REPEAT – application writing is a learnt skill and one you can absolutely master!

For instance, have a look at the following two sentences from a statement. Both are passion filled, which one is more effective?

'Within my friendship group and at work I practice active listening, a skill which midwives need because…'


'I now understand the compassion and listening skills midwives need.'

See the difference?

If you make it to interview, you'll generally have a 1 in 3 chance of getting a place.

If you get help to make sure you’re thinking within the midwifery model, and you help yourself to the right information, you have every chance of success.


What’s your refund policy?

Try Personal Statement School for the first 3 teaching videos and if it’s not for you, that’s okay. Just email me and ask for a refund and I’ll honour it. (This hasn't happened so far but no worries if it’s not for you!)*

*You are responsible for unsubscribing when you’ve finished, I want to be really up front about that and you will find instructions on the welcome email and main Personal Statement School page.

It takes IT support to process refunds and to work out when you last logged in. This means I don’t usually offer refunds if you just haven’t remembered to unsubscribe as it’s not financially viable for such a small business. Hope you understand!

If there are special circumstances, of course, email me at once and we'll sort it!

April 22, 2019 0

Too Busy to Eat Healthy Because of Midwifery? Some Suggestions, What to Eat at Night, and the Midwife Trouser Whistle Issue

Ah, what to eat at night.

The perplexity of choosing snacks which aren’t going to add to the methane problem.

And it has to be tasty because snack time is the best bit of the shift, or at least a close second to pool births.

We know that people who do shifts, especially nights, are more at risk of all kinds of metabolic problems. Everything from extra gas because your tummy’s working odd hours, to obesity and type 2 diabetes to ulcers*. Thanks, vocational career!

But the evidence suggests some of this risk is because of quality of diet and we actually have control over this bit.

There will be times where everything on shift is conspiring to get you to make unhealthy food choices.

But if you’re like me, junk makes you feel worse, especially if it’s part of a pattern of eating badly. As a long distance runner, I can feel what a few weeks of sugar does to my body and it’s not pretty.

Shifts can also make it harder to make healthy food at home. If you’ve have three 12 hour nights, seen six babies born, been there for a cat one section and now don’t have the energy to meet up with mates as planned, it’s easy to stay on the sofa, order a takeout and make sure they put in some of those soft bake cookies too.

We all know that midwifery is way more demanding and important than running, so, let’s fuel right.

Obviously everyone is different and these specific suggestions won’t work for everyone. But take what works and adapt, and if you find something helpful, awesome!

5 ideas for shift work meals you prepare the night before/have at home:

  • Leftovers, cook with lots of veg and you’re eating healthy the next day with no effort (pasta tomato bake, curry, stew etc.)
  • Baked potatoes: hear me out. Cold baked potatoes are FABULOUS. Cook them by rubbing them with a bit of olive oil and salt and bake them in the oven. Then have them cold the next day with some cream cheese from a tub and some cherry tomatoes. So easy to prepare. I used to do loads at once and freeze them
  • Jar of nut butter**, ryvita, and a crunchy apple
  • Chickpea salad. Tin of chick peas in a lunch box, add olive oil, lemon juice, seasoning, grated parmesan, garlic granules. Add rocket for something green. Tasty and healthy and done in < 2 minutes
  • I’m into chickpea cous cous at the moment. Chickpea couscous: just add stock, I add tinned tomatoes, herbs (dry) and garlic granules (dry) and top with some grated cheese. Better for you than wheat couscous apparently and again, very quick

5 ideas on what to eat at night:

  • Porridge, fill yourself up with good carbs – blueberries are supposed to be great at keeping blood sugars steady, use oat milk instead of dairy for less..y'know
  • Take a homemade smoothie – you can experiment with adding nut butter and coconut oil, which have good fats which will keep you full and healthy. In my experience, the fats seem to help with the gas issue too because we all know smoothies can produce nuclear weapon level sound effects
  • There’s nothing wrong with having a big cup of fancy coffee before a shift, it’s a treat and you are working against your body clock. Sprinkle with cinnamon, again this is supposed to keep your blood sugars level. can help you go to the loo, again good for the gas issue
  • Make yourself a Really Amazing Sandwich – nice seedy bread, cucumbers and spinach, tuna or another protein. Maybe not hummus on the night unless it doesn’t impact you!
  • Try some very dark chocolate. The magnesium will help you sleep later and the caffeine will keep you up on shift

Ideas for healthy ‘emergency rations’ to have in your bag:

(These are for those times when you have to grab something while doing your notes).

  • Peanut butter sachets. Nut butter is great natural fuel which doesn't have sugar in, these can be expensive but as emergency food they're my go to thing
  • Those fruit and nut power ball or flapjack things – or make your own (I just mash ripe bananas with a little water, coconut oil and a few whizzed up dates + the oats to form a sticky mass – in the oven in a tin @ 180 degrees for 20 minutes or so – cheap) – I would have a few of these in your uniform pocket if at all possible!
  • Electrolytes for your water bottle, these help prevent headaches

My other busy midwife health hack is to keep fresh sauerkraut in my fridge at home. Please give it another chance if you’ve tried it and hated it, the raw food company sauerkraut is absolutely delicious, like a raw, mild crunchy cabbage salad.

The ingredients are just salt and cabbage but it's full of healthy bacteria. There’s limited research out there but it’s been a health food for about 2000 years that to me this is basically a longitudinal research study.

I add this to the side of pretty much every meal, though I wouldn’t take it to work, way too stinky. And my boyfriend loves Kimchi but we won’t go there just now...

Over time, your gut health should get better and it’ll help with bloating on night shifts.

I’m not saying I don’t fall off the wagon from time to time (god, I discovered sesame snaps about a month ago, sometimes you can’t help it) but a healthy diet is important.

I mean, everything in midwifery is important but the health of the workforce is the foundation on which care runs. If you don’t take your health seriously, all the midwifery skills you build up over a career can disappear because your main tool – your body – can’t do it.

Delicious and healthy food that you prepare for yourself = good care for the women.

THANK YOU for doing shift work or being there for women across the weird hours needed.

I’d love to hear from you:

  • What are your go to recipes for eating around shifts, oncall and nights?
  • Have you noticed you have more energy when you’re eating right?
  • If you’re not currently paying too much attention to your diet and you’re feeling bad about it, forgive yourself immediately, you have a really challenging job. But what’s one thing you can do to change things?

Leave me a comment below and don’t forget to share this with anyone midwifery related who might find it helpful.

All my best, Ellie x


P.S. Something important I need to tell you: I have huge problems doing nights. This isn’t something I’m ready to talk about on my blog. As the writer Elizabeth Gilbert once wrote ‘this is a story I’m living right now rather than one I’m telling’ so I hope you understand if I don’t go into more detail. But I didn’t feel right not telling you any of this either, considering I'm recommending some ideas. These really are the foods I used for nights and it did help but it turned out I had bigger concerns.

If you’re suffering because of nights, go and see your GP x


** (Gan et al 2014, this is from the Occupational & Environmental Medicine Journal, a branch of the British Medical Journal) + (Lowden et al 2010, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health)

**Obviously be careful around anyone with nut allergies

April 18, 2019 2

Is 37 weeks a full term pregnancy?

Is 37 weeks a full term pregnancy?

I run a big midwifery Facebook group and one of the questions coming up a lot recently is:

‘Is 37 weeks pregnant actually term?’

Follow up questions include:

Is a Mum allowed to use a birth centre if she’s exactly 37 weeks pregnant? What about if she’s one day before that?

Does a baby at 36+6 need extra observations and heel prick blood glucose levels doing? What about if the heel pricks stresses them out and interferes with breastfeeding? Could we just pretend they’re 37 weeks since it’s so close?

How important is this concept of 'term' anyway?

I can easily get stuck on this kind of question. This is my typical thought process:

1. SAFETY! Safety first, I have a responsibility to offer the safest care I can, and who am I to question guidelines, I’m just one fairly junior midwife

2. Lots of excellent midwives I know are fans of cut off points, so there must be good evidence for this

3. But when I look up the evidence or read researcher’s blogs words like ‘low quality’ and ‘weak’ start to pop up...are we making decisions based on culture again?

4. Conversations about due dates, induction of labour, and whether babies born at 37 weeks are more at risk are HARD!

I bet you’ve come across similar problems?

You might know about Dr Sara Wickham, I have a burning desire to lock myself in my room and binge read her blog fairly often. She’s a researcher and independent midwife.

She and other researchers have a lot to say on the topic of due dates and the concept of being 'term'.

For instance, the 280 days of pregnancy we use to estimate the ideal length of pregnancy appears to come from something called Naegele’s rule, which we started using in the 1800s. There’s not much new evidence to back it up.

(Naegele was a German Obstetrician or a ‘dirty old man who names things after himself’ to quote one of my old midwifery lecturers, smashing the patriarchy one physiology lecture at a time...).

Only 4% of babies will arrive on their due date. Also, there’s evidence to suggest that dating scans are only as accurate as last period dates. They're not as precise as we sometimes like to think.

Also, what about genetics, ethnicity and even nutrition? Wouldn’t it be weird if these things had no impact on a woman’s ideal length of pregnancy?

All in all, due dates are questionable.

The other thing is, we’re not really sure what starts labour. It’s a synchronised swim of hormones and physiology. It's not a factory process which notices a finished baby and then ships it at the correct date.

How do we know if a woman’s gone into labour for the correct physiological reasons or if something else has started it? We don’t often have clear answers. One baby could be completely ready at 37 weeks and another might be displaying breathing problems associated with prematurity.

We also don’t know why! Is it because women have varying length pregnancies or because we have due dates wrong?!

What we come back to is:

What even is a full term pregnancy?

I’ve come across some evidence from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists which suggests that the idea of ‘term’ simply looks at the evidence on how babies get on when they’re born. On average, at 40 weeks, babies have least respiratory and other problems, though anything from 37-40 weeks looks pretty good too.

But newer evidence suggests babies born between 39-41 weeks do ever so slightly better. This means in the USA, 37-38 weeks is now considered ‘early term’.

But these studies aren’t perfect, the concept of a due date is just our best educated guess.

So is 37 weeks actually term?

If we going to go along with the concept of a term pregnancy, most  guidelines, including those from the UK, say yes. America has recently renamed 37-38 weeks ‘early term’.

But as with all these things, it’s a line in the sand based on all available evidence.

Mother Nature didn’t leave us with a rule book saying ‘pregnancies will end between 37 and 42 weeks and if this doesn’t happen medical science will need to intervene’. It’s all just on a scale.

Having good observational midwifery skills and knowing the things that babies need like breastfeeding, skin to skin, rooming in with Mum, etc., are all good ways of supporting a baby who may or may not be a little early.

I’ll be making it my mission to to get to know every Mum and baby as an individual (as far as possible in busy practice!), as this is the best way of picking up on issues.

Now I’d love to hear from you:

Have you had experience with babies born around 37 weeks? Any stories you can share to teach us?

Is questioning the evidence and not having absolute answers about due dates outside your comfort zone? If so, what’s one action you can take to better communicate evidence to women?

Hope you found this as interesting to read as I did to write!

All my best, Ellie xx

p.s. Comments welcome, please put in as much detail as possible. You never know, what you add might prompt the breakthrough that another student or midwife needs to support a woman 🙂

April 11, 2019 4

Confused by the New NMC Education Standards? I explain via Video Blog :)

If someone asked you what the new NMC education standards mean for midwives training in 2019 and beyond, would you know how to answer?

Or would you think ‘I should know this, I care!

Maybe you’ve had a look at the new Nursing and Midwifery Council guidelines on education and gone ‘ack, complicated, what?

When you see 19 separate guidelines on practice supervision in corporate speak on the NMC website, it’s easy to get demoralised.

But it’s actually pretty straightforward.

In this post I’ll set out what you need to know in easy terms and with some of my informed opinions sprinkled in, ‘cos it’s my blog : )

You can also watch the video if that's easier.

In 2017, the NMC ran a consultation on education standards that midwives could add their opinions to. There have been panels and independent evaluation groups at the NMC looking at changing and improving education for midwifery since then.

The NMC have said several times that new education standards for midwives are needed because the world is changing, women’s lives are different and midwives have a more demanding role and skill set than ever before. Events like those at Morecambe Bay will likely have been a reason for the new standards too.

These standards will be rolled out from winter 2019.

The changes that stood out to me are as follows:

Care simulation hours will no longer be capped. Unis will be able to have their students spend more time in skills labs if this is what they feel is best. Students tend to value these sessions, so as long as simulated practice doesn’t outweigh real practice, this sounds like a good thing to me.

The NMC will also be adopting prescribing guidelines from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which sounds fine. Midwives have stringent rules around prescribing anyway since unlike nurses, they can prescribe pretty much from qualification, so I can’t imagine this will be too different. Interestingly nurses will also be able to prescribe as soon as they’re qualified too when previously they had to wait three years to apply.

But the most important change for me is that clinical mentors will no longer be a thing.

In the past, student midwives has ‘personal tutors’ doing the academic side of things and ‘sign off mentors’ who they had to work with 40% of the time in clinical practice.

Under the new standards instead of these there will now be:

Academic Assessors


Practice Assessors

These two staff members will collaborate on how students are doing and together recommend that students should progress to the next stage of the course (or not) .

This is an interesting change because students don’t have to work with one key mentor as much.

Instead they can work with ‘Practice Supervisors’ who can be any staff member regulated by the NMC. ‘Practice Supervisors’ might be newly qualified midwives, paediatric nurses, basically anyone with good skills to teach students. The new standards mean anyone regulated can muck in with teaching.

Practice Assessors will collate feedback from Practice Supervisors.

It’s my conjecture that students will get to work with more people and there will be more flexibility about teaching in placements. The same standards or higher will apply and unis and placements will be able to organise themselves as they see fit.

This might mean more student midwives can be trained, which is what the government wants and the country needs.

It also might mean nothing changes in some places. Students will continue to primarily work with sign off mentors just under the new name of ‘practice assessors’.

I’m very capable of criticising the NMC when necessary (see my series of posts from when Independent Midwives weren’t allowed to practice), but for me, in terms of the new education standards, it looks like there’s potential for students to get an amazing level of education.

Of course, this is all up to universities and trusts.

It also means as a newly qualified midwife you may end up having a student with you much sooner.

This could be a problem, we don’t want the blind leading the blind. But the newly qualified midwives I’ve met are up to date with the research and have a ‘third eye’ of hyper vigilance in terms of accountability and asking for help. They may also get how to teach students midwifery skills since they’ve had recent experience of being students themselves.

The only issue is continuity. With ‘Better Births’ being implemented around the country to achieve continuity for women, with all the benefits and satisfaction that seeing one midwife provides, I can understand why many are wary of taking continuity of mentorship away from students.

But I think there’s always been a need for students to find their own mentors to help nurture them through their career.

The midwives who formed me most didn’t necessarily mentor me, I was won over watching their practice or reading their books or online comments. I made contact at conferences or found out about their work through groups like the Association of Radical Midwives.

Often it was all to do with the emotional wellbeing of women and how they made them feel, though of course epic clinical skills are vital to underpin this.

It’s also this group of informal mentors that I learnt midwifery intuition from : )

Under the new NMC education guidelines, it might be even more important to seek this kind of mentorship out for yourself.

Once you’ve read this through, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment letting me know:

1. How do you think the new NMC education standards will impact you?
2. Do you have a midwifery role model? How did you meet them or learn from them – how would you suggest a student or newly qualified midwife find such a person?

April 4, 2019 2

My Granny Inspired My Time Management Skills As A Midwife

My Granny Inspired My Time Management Skills As A Midwife

Everything’s happened at once this week. My Granny died and though she'd been lost to dementia for a long time, and it was expected, it’s still knocked us sideways.

I also have a family friend who’s passed away unexpectedly, age 52, so I’ll have two funerals to attend next week.

Both my Granny and my family friend wouldn’t want me to ease up on my midwifery support business and writing so I’m trying to keep the plates spinning while doing family stuff. And it’s an unexpectedly beautiful February with canopy blue skies and cold air. Enjoying this is vital.

Aspiring, student and qualified midwives are often overwhelmed. When you’re midwifery inclined you’ll have a caregiving role in your community and family. You'll typically do a lot of carrying everyone down the path.

I have no idea what’s going on for you at the moment but I know you have inner strength and I also know it can feel hard to get that out into the world just because of the sheer volume of life admin!

My granny was a tenacious person. She ran a small business selling floor tiles while bringing up two kids and an endless stream of rescue dogs. Her time management skills were second to none. To be honest, I was quite scared of her when I was little, she had strict rules, and her dogs could be a bit bitey (!) but as I grew up I had respect and love for her.

My life is jam-packed right now.

I bet yours is too.

I remember my Granny tackling things bravely, straight to the point.

Here are my time management strategies based on her example.

This will show you how an old-school, overly busy, incredible woman organised her life and got all the important tasks done, while still enjoying her kids and dogs:

  1. Sit down for twenty minutes and make a big list of everything you need to get done. This should include midwifery training, any revalidation work due, but also stuff like needing to do the washing, birthday cards, bills to pay, doctors appointments etc. The aim is to get everything out of your head down on paper. Once it’s on paper it will stop chasing your thoughts around and you’ll be able to tackle things one at a time.
  2. Cross out any tasks that don’t need to be done (coffee with that person you secretly find really annoying? If there’s not a good reason, remember you’ve only got one life, seize the carp and politely decline) - and cross out tasks you think you ‘should’ do but aren’t actually that keen on!
  3. Crucial: ask for help. Where can you delegate or pull in a favour? Remember how good it feels to know you're helping, it may be there are people in your life who are just waiting for you to ask.
  4. Put the tasks into categories. Those that need doing today, tomorrow, and this week. Those that need doing next week. Those that need doing next month. And those that can be left until beyond that. Then plan out the next two weeks using your diary, write out all the tasks. Add all appointments and shifts to your calendar. You now have a plan and even if you don’t manage to carry it all off, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what needs doing and the essentials will get sorted early.
  5. Schedule in at least one thing a week that you just WANT to do. It might be escapism with a book or TV series. Or a beauty session. My granny would have taken the dogs out for a three hour romp in the country somewhere.
  6. Always have tea and snacks on hand for all of this planning. My granny liked Earl Grey and brazil nuts (and secretly, biscuits).

This process will save you time and effort getting everything done. You’ll then have more headspace to be with the women you’re caring for and you’ll be able to enjoy the people around you. Being organised with a calendar might sound basic but this is all the successful, caring people I know to do this or something like it.

The opportunities to enjoy life can slip through your fingers if you lose them all to just tasks. Midwifery time management on wards is so difficult, you won't have time to write lists, but the same structure should apply. Do the most important things, delegate and ask for help if possible. Try and do at least one thing a shift which you really enjoy.

The picture at the top of this post is my Granny getting married in 1948. She’s 18 years old. She died aged 89 still married to my Grandad. She was a woman who handled a lot and her life wasn’t easy.

But she loved the time she had with her family and pets and we will always remember her as a woman of strength, tenacity and a wicked sense of fun. She knew how to prioritise.

Hope this helps you as much as me,

Much Love, Ellie x

P.S. I’d love to hear a) what lessons have you learnt from your older family members that apply to midwifery and b) how do you manage your time?

Leave a comment letting me know!

February 21, 2019 6

Bullying in Teams: How to Survive It and Thrive – A book by Chartered Psychologist Aryanne Oade

Bullying in Teams: How to Survive It and Thrive – A book by Chartered Psychologist Aryanne Oade

Have you ever worked incredibly hard, only to find yourself being criticised and dominated? Especially in midwifery, where all you want to do is get it right for women and families, this can be hugely damaging to your confidence and your practice.

If you’re a kind and empathetic person it can be hard to identify that what you’re going through is bullying and that you need to do something about it.

Enter Aryanne Oade’s ‘Bullying in Teams’. I’ve written about Aryanne Oade before, she’s a chartered psychologist who specialises in challenging workplace dynamics. I came across her on a recommendation of an NHS midwife friend of mine.

Bullying is a toxic, dangerous phenomenon in midwifery.

Research and reports (The Francis Report, The Kirkup Report) show that care is compromised and morbidity and mortality can occur when the culture is bad enough. Every student and midwife needs to know how to stand up for themselves and their workplace.

I know many of us go into midwifery wanting to believe that all professionals will be kind towards everyone.

The problem is when you believe everyone in the midwifery is lovely, you bend yourself into pretzel shapes to keep this belief intact – even if they’re being unkind. When they’re having a bad day, or when they have methods of coping with the work that adversely impacts other staff members, you find yourself making excuses:

‘They’re reacting to the pressure of the service.’

‘I must have a personality that they don’t gel with.’

‘They’re lovely to the women, they probably just don’t have the head space for me.’

You might find yourself thinking things like this even when a midwife colleague has just said something like:

Some people pick things up quicker than others – don’t they (your name)?

Charming. And not constructive.

Without getting into my personal life too much, I’ll just let you know that it was unacceptable for me or my siblings to get too angry or advocate for ourselves while growing up in our family.

If there was someone bullying us my parents would always ask ‘and what did you do? What’s your part in this?’

This isn’t a bad thing, I owe my parents a lot and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my mother and both my siblings are in caring professions.

My parents were doing the best job they could to keep three wild kids under control and we probably needed reminders to think of others.

But in the adult world, if empathy is the only tool in your toolbox, you’re going to struggle.

There are patterns of behaviour that prelude bullying and in midwifery practice, they’re just as important to pick up on as clinical signs of pre-eclampsia or APH.

The information in ‘Bullying in Teams’ is vital. In practical style with lots of examples you’ll learn how to:

  • Protect yourself from being affected by poor culture
  • Restore your dignity
  • Understand that bullies are adept at exploiting any room for manoeuvre you may inadvertently give them through using unassertive behaviour. You can learn to protect yourself and the book will show you how to do this, through acquiring both mental and behavioural skills
  • Identify patterns of behaviour that lead to bullying and how to respectfully challenge them, for you and others
  • Recognise undermining behaviour
  • How to use phrases and body language that will establish your reputation as a student or midwife who deserves respect
  • How to encourage those around you to support you and challenge bullying
  • Restore your self-confidence

A ‘standing up for yourself’ toolkit is vital and you have a very good chance of turning poor culture away from you and your practice.

And as a sensitive, excellent student or midwife you have every right to get your voice heard. In fact, we need you to lead.

But if you’re anything like me, the thought of even needing such a toolkit is difficult to accept.

In practice, I aspire to be a midwife Gandhi. I rage against the idea any midwife could be unkind, I’m committed to seeing the best in everyone.

In reality Gandhi was actually lawyer and was amazing at standing up for himself and others.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt in my life is this:

You can empathise even while recognising someone is behaving badly.

You can know that a person attempting to bully you is a good human being at heart and they’re doing the best they can.

But at the same time, you have to realise that not everyone experiencing distress reacts in the same way as you.

There are many who are desperate and though they come across as tough, they’ll do anything to save themselves, including bully and power grab.

Empathy is wonderful but there have to be boundaries. Without boundaries, you lose yourself as a person and a midwife and you let other people decide your path.

You might also be thinking ‘but constructive feedback is important, shouldn’t I be listening to everything and working out what might be helpful?

Yes, absolutely. But there’s a big difference between constructive feedback and someone trying to take you down. You know the difference in your gut. Trust it.

In the example at the start of this blog, where the midwife said ‘some people pick things up quicker than others – don’t they?’ a good response might be something like ‘you seem to be implying I’m not a good midwife or learner. What exactly do you mean by that?

This would have alerted the midwife in question that her colleague’s good standing and ability to learn wasn’t up for debate.

We have record numbers of newly qualified midwives leaving the profession. And one RCM report found 43% of midwives and student midwives have been bullied (NB: there are study limitations)

There’s only so much self-doubt that is actionable and helpful so you need to draw your own lines around your self-belief and keep them there.

To me, this is just as important as knowing what to do during a PPH. Women’s safety depends on it.

Aryanne’s books are like nothing else on the market; I have no idea why this isn’t a mainstream topic? Why are there not guides to behaviour in Myles and Mayes midwifery?

Possibly it’s just a hard skill that few are prepared to teach professionally.

The RCM ‘Caring For You’ Campaign and the government report ‘The National Maternity Review’ are drawing attention to the importance of workplace culture in achieving satisfying, safe care for women. The way we think about these skills is changing.

I believe both Aryanne’s books, ‘Free Yourself from Workplace Bullying’ and ‘Bullying in Teams’ should be on every student and midwife’s reading list.

Now I’d love to hear from you:

  • Have you read any of Aryanne’s work? What did you think?
  • Do you already have a ‘standing up for yourself’ toolkit? Any tips?
  • Have you developed any of these skills and is there anything you can share?

Leave a comment below. I hope this helps and I’m sending so much love and respect,

Ellie x

February 6, 2019 1

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I got to talk to a lovely trans male midwife this week. He’s called Nathan and I’ll try and get his whole blog post up soon.

The most important thing I learnt from Nathan was this:

He and every other trans sibling he’s asked believe that motherhood and womanhood are what midwifery are made of.

I don’t know if you’ve heard but there are some debates that ‘woman’ and ‘mother’ are too gendered and shouldn’t be automatically used in midwifery?

Nathan believes that all midwives and other healthcare professionals should be aware that you can’t tell someone’s gender by looking at them, and be open to asking questions about pronouns, especially if there are cues like more androgynous clothing.

But motherhood is too important a word to take out of childbearing. It's just we need to ask people what they need from us with sensitivity.

Nathan stance on this argument goes with my gut, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

There’s a fantastic blog from Shawn Walker (RM, PhD) here that covers the concept: Can “mothering” be gender-neutral?

In other news, I’ll be going to Mary Cronk’s funeral tomorrow. I didn’t know Mary but I think she’s extraordinary. The daughter of a unionist, she campaigned for women’s rights in maternity care, became a breech birth expert and was amazing at handling complex politics.

You can see more about Mary and some important fundraising in her honour here.

If you have a few seconds this week please think of her and her family. Also the fundraising is for the Association of Radical Midwives, if you can add anything, she'd so appreciate this.

It’s a strange coincidence that as I was putting this blog together I found out another Mary, one of my favourite poets, Mary Oliver has died today. I'm quoting her in the title of this blog:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

May we be as brave, clever and funny as both Marys, and as open and wise as Nathan.

Much Love,

Ellie x

January 17, 2019 0

Christmas Midwifery

Christmas Midwifery

Thank you if you're working Christmas. We're all impressed and comforted by the people who keep caring for us. There's sacrifice involved and we don't underestimate it.

Some students and midwives shared their thoughts on Christmas time with me and I thought you might want to see. I asked them how they coped and this is what they said (picnic in the lounge anyone? 😉 )

'I practice smiling, telling myself I am empowering my women and their families! I’m an enhanced midwife so my clientele includes safeguarding/MH/teenagers/asylum seekers/learning disabilities/domestic abuse/substance misuse.
And let’s not forget alcohol and cake/chocolates haha! Merry Xmas x'

'By reading! Getting lost in an evocative novel in another time and place. Releasing and processing emotion and memories that way! Kate, student midwife.'

'I’m going to drink lots of gin! On a more serious note, I’m going to cherish every precious moment I get with my beautiful babies. I’ve taken the pressure off everyone this year by saying we aren’t making a traditional Christmas dinner as we all spend so much time stressing about it and then precious time on Christmas Day is spent in a kitchen cooking. Instead we are having a picnic on the lounge floor with the children and I’ll be soaking up every second (whilst in my PJs with an all important gin)! '

' - How to "keep afloat" during the Christmas season? Spend the Christmas season nourishing your body with good food, thoughtful conversations and reflect on the year. What was my midwifery highlight? What was my personal life highlight? And look closely at the balance between our midwifery lives and our personal lives. It needs to be balanced! I believe the happiest, most productive midwives have many passions besides midwifery to keep them refreshed in their midwifery roles. But sometimes it can be very easy to have that balance 'out of whack'. Spend the Christmas period planning for the next year and 're-balancing' where necessary. Sometimes filling up our own cup doesn't mean we're selfish, because we need a full cup to give to others. And empty cup has nothing to offer. 
Have a beautiful Christmas, Meg.' 

'I stay afloat with lots of coffee, and I finally started seeing a counselor (online). The stress of everything has been getting to me and as much as I’d love to connect with other women in person, it just hasn’t been happening. Its been a good release. It’s a hard gig trying to be a mum and a midwife. ' - Allie

' I start my midwifery degree in September! But a massive thank you to all the midwives out there who are working so so hard this Christmas, everything you do is appreciated. True superheroes.'
- Mia Gwynne - Smith 🙂

'I will be working Christmas on Delivery Suite, very happy , I really love it!! ' - Amaia

'I keep afloat by focusing on the positives and the women. It's easy to dwell on everything that's wrong with the system. And believe you me I indulge in that plenty but when it's really tough I find focusing on the tiny things you can do to hone in on individual women in a system that just doesn't, makes all the difference. A section that shouldn't have been a section… When everyone is focused on the baby, I focus on the woman, hold her hand, explain what's going on, tell her how amazing she is for having just birthed a baby etc etc. In a booking where she's been waiting for hours, listen to her, tell her she's amazing for getting this far and she's well able for what's to come. Knowing that these tiny insignificant things are night and day. Knowing that while the broken system ties your hands and restricts your practice, there are some small ways you can make a difference. Seeing your very sick women from antenatal come back to a postnatal clinic with a beautiful baby… These tiny things all keep me afloat, especially at this time of year when inductions are Christmas crackers.' - Deborah

Here's to 2019 being amazing for care and I'm hoping midwifery and the NHS in general will receive much more funding and political support.

Love to everyone, from Ellie and all the midwives/students involved in this post xxx

December 25, 2018 0

Refreshing My Learning on Midwifery Support For Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Refreshing My Learning on Midwifery Support For Asylum Seekers and Refugees

I think most of us would like to provide incredible care for anyone having to flee their country. It occurred to me that I haven’t learnt anything on this topic since I was a student and given all the events in the world right now, I was overdue for some study.

I headed over to, made a cup of tea and settled into their refugee module.

Here’s what I found, both from all4maternity and from my own research which the module prompted:

Refugees are people who have been granted asylum in the UK.
Asylum seekers are those still going through the process.

In 2017 there were more than 120,000 refugees and more than 40,000 pending asylum cases in the UK.

Interestingly, it’s developing world countries that offer the most places for refugees. Turkey currently has 3.5 million refugees with Pakistan and Uganda also taking large numbers.

Reasons for this might be Turkey receiving international credit for taking refugees but there's also a culture of helping others in Islam which is prompting this care. Though obviously, Turkey shares a border with Syria so proximity is a reason too.

Being a refugee in Turkey is very different from in the UK, though. Refugees often receive only a temporary right to stay in Turkey and they may be expected to stay in camps.

I think many people in the UK believe that refugee applications are rising but actually they've been stable since around 2002.

The UK asylum process is incredibly tough, complex, and often seems unfair; for instance, in 2015 38% of appeals on asylum cases were upheld in the asylum seeker’s favour.

Imagine what it would feel like to run from your country, apply for asylum, supply all documents and evidence that may be very difficult to get and then to have your application refused on unfair grounds. You’d have to be brave to challenge this, even if you knew the decision was wrong.

It’s intensely distressing to think of a pregnant woman or a new mother going through the asylum seeker process.

Other factors that healthcare professionals need to consider include the experiences of mothers and families escaping from political or other persecution. Refugees have often walked hundred of miles, lost their homes and possessions, and seen death and violence. Mental illness, particularly PTSD will be a concern. There’s good evidence to suggest continuity of care might be a wonderful way of supporting women in these situations (imagine having to retell your story every time you see a midwife, as it’s a new person – continuity of care would avoid this and help you find coping strategies for labour and parenthood).

Malaria and tropical diseases screening and care are also factors to think through with this group of women.

If a woman presents as very unwell and she is a refugee or has spent time in a refugee camp, she is at much higher risk of these. A midwife caring for a woman being removed from the UK needs to consider if anti-malarial prophylaxis is necessary as well.

Asylum seekers do have the right to full, free NHS care but sometimes they don’t know this.

Women in the immigration system are at risk of not coming for care anyway so it’s important to get this info to them. Combine a woman reluctant to seek care with a language barrier, and perhaps inappropriate translation going on and you can see why this group is at risk. Professional translation services should always be used, there might be safeguarding or accuracy risks if friends or family members are used.

What I found extremely startling was the transition between being an asylum seeker and being a refugee. In the UK, once you’re granted refugee status, you have 28 days to start claiming benefits and find new accommodation; in practice, this is often unachievable and many refugees end up on the street.

In summary, being a refugee can be a lonely, terrifying process and midwives can offer life changing care. You can support someone at their lowest. (see the 'p.s.' below for a real example of this).

I would highly recommend subscribing to and heading over to do some further learning with their refugee module. It's the online learning tool put together by the journal The Practising Midwife, perfect for aspiring, student and qualified midwives.

The references are all there too.

All4maternity has some brilliant learning on subjects as diverse as refugee women, delayed cord clamping and midwifery resilience. It’s easy to navigate and if you learn best curled up with a hot drink with your laptop, instead of at the library with lots of hefty books, you’ll love it.

Now I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment letting me know your experiences with women seeking asylum – or your own personal experiences?

Is this care you’d like to be involved with?

I know you might feel stretched thin at times but your contribution to women’s lives means more than you realise.

Much love and keep going x


For a bit of inspiration on what midwives can do for asylum seekers, see this interview with Deborah Hughes – who offered a woman on her caseload asylum and helped her retrieve her baby from Africa where she was scheduled to have FGM.

Honestly, if you’re ever doubting midwives have an impact, this blog will help #faithrestored

December 5, 2018 1

11 Responses

  1. Hi I’m 12 and hope to become a midwife when I am older do you have any tips or know anything I could work on now towards it??

    • Hi Katie, thanks for you comment, wow you’re very focused at such a young age! I would come and subscribe to for free blog posts on midwifery which are up to date, I have fun with them too so they’re good to read! Volunteering with people is always a good thing to do to develop your transferrable skills, could you get involved via your school with any caring volunteer positions? I’d also start to read everything you can get your hands on midwifery wise, and perhaps come over to the Secret Community for Midwives in the Making on Facebook for an idea of what midwives talk about x

  2. I love your blog and am currently reading your book. Unfortunately, I am from the US so the educational path and such is much different than what you describe in the UK. Do you know of any American midwife blogs? I’ve tried searching online but most are very, very established in their careers and the things they write about are so far off from where I am in my journey to be a midwife.

    • Hi Alicia,

      Great question! I don’t know many American midwife blogs sadly, though MidwifeThinking is a great Australian one, and is one of my favourite UK ones. Please do let me know if you find any good American midwife blogs, I’m always on the lookout! x

  3. Hi Ellie,
    I just wanted to share a bit of the furore that is occurring in the Queensland state of Australia. Obstetricians are moaning about the poor outcomes etc etc of midwifery led care.
    I thought we were passed all this but apparently not.

  4. Pille

    Hi Ellie,
    I’m a first year student midwife, and would eventually like to work as a midwife on First Nations reserves in Canada. Do you have any contacts who have trained as a midwife in the uk and moved over to Canada? Or do you yourself have any idea how the transfer would work?

    • Rachel Wild

      Hi Ellie – if you particularly want to work for First Nations’ families I would first contact some of the Aboriginal health organisations or governance bodies to scope out how they would see a midwife from the UK working out. Perhaps you have First Nations/ Aboriginal heritage yourself, but if not you’d need to consider the implications of working as a outsider in communities that have a history of colonialism harming their existing birth cultures. e.g. also your immigration and work visa would be through the Canadian government but perhaps you could also ask permission of First Nation government for the area you’d like to practice in?

  5. Miroslava

    Hi Ellie, i am a second year student of midwifery in Slovakia.
    I would like to ask you, what’s your posture for needs of women who are in puerperium ? What is your opinion for lactation and sports activities in postpartal period?

    Thanks, for answer 🙂

  6. Alysia

    Hello, I have always been interested in midwifery at young age. At the moment, I am a Senior in high school and I am writing a paper on a career that I am interested in. I am required to have an interview with a midwife for research for my pages.Would you mind if I interviewed you for the role?

  7. Keeley

    I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to win a free month of your personal statement school! I’m a 33(nearly!) year young working Mum of 2, retaking 2 of my GCSE’s, training to become a breastfeeding peer supporter, and trying to save as much as I can for 3 years without a wage and shed loads of student debt, with a mortgage! I’ve got your book which I LOVE! But I am still struggling on how to even get started!!! And what experience I have that’s relevant enough to be worthy of going on my statement to stand out! I’ll be applying in Sept 19, to hopefully get a place in Sept 2020, so this would be amazing!!! Pretty pretty pretty please!!!! ??????

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