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Ellie Durant
Hi, I'm Ellie and my goal is to help you become a fantastic midwife. I qualified as a midwife in the UK and have worked in both the UK and New Zealand. Now I'm a midwifery writer and support giver.

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“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 all4maternity.com, 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 all4maternity.com 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

P.S.

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

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