Here I am at Kingston and St Georges midwifery conference, 2018. Today there will be ten talks and events exploring the concept 'I Have a Voice' and I’ll be reporting on each of them in ‘Notes of Midwifery Voices’.
Art changes the way our brains work. Having something creative in your life helps keep you happy, processing events in practice and able to communicate with power when you need it.
All things midwives need right now.
The Progress Theatre is a group of midwives and students who use theatre to illustrate important truths.
During their conference slot The Progress Theatre took us through many scenes; a post apocalyptic labour labour line (press 3 to record your labour noises so we can work out how dilated you are; press 4 for directions on how to deliver your own child on your bathroom floor); an illustration of just how many times pregnant women get touched by professionals they don't know; and a father who couldn't reach the buzzer because he didn't know he could stand up with his baby his arms.
The most poignant was the final piece - a midwife doing a stellar job of being one to one in labour is told to go for her break - and when she declines because she can't leave her woman, she's told 'well don't say we didn't ask you if you wanted one'.
She's then coerced into encouraging the woman onto her back as there are decelerations and the sense of betrayal when the midwife is told in no uncertain terms, by the co-ordinator to set up stirrups, was palpable. The scene ends with an emergency forceps birth and none of the woman's family make it in time.
The spiral into medicalisation is brutal and as someone who's just had a sister give birth, I was nearly in tears by this point at the thought of her being on her own.
Luckily we as the audience had the opportunity to critique during a second showing of the piece - one of the most interesting comments was one midwives 'would have been temped not to listen in'.
I wonder if anyone does this? Opts not to give what is judged to be 'safe' care in case of medicalisation?
We also discussed how the woman in questions must have felt talked over and degraded, and was in a position where so many people came into the room.
There was a lot of humour as we discussed the different options and what we could have said, done and believed as a midwife in this scene including:
* 'It's your choice whether you are examined; tell us what you need'
* Keeping the doctor out of the way by asking them to get the delivery pack ready
* How we're all equal, regardless of position as doctor, co-ordinator or newly qualified midwife
More than the concepts (which were communicated brilliantly), the enthusiasm, care and detail of the theatre helped show why midwives doing art is good. These are talented actors, I bet they work incredibly hard at their art - but I also bet rehearsing was fun and also helps them remember the underlying philosophies in their practice.
Have you got some art in your life?
Are you here at the conference? What was the most insightful thing you learnt from Progress Theatre?
Or what was the best thing you learnt from this post – leave a comment below!