Hello! I've just got back this week from the Kindness Conference in Bradford.
Check us out:
It was just so amazing! My best midwifery mate Emily came up behind me and hugged me just before we started and it made me cry just a little bit!
And we had a collection of people with that look in their eye of life experience combined with being prepared to pour out their heart, soul and resources into improving midwifery.
We discussed actionable techniques for addressing bullying and poor behaviour, how to stay strong and keep growing as a midwife, what to do to promote kindness as a student/mentor/manager, and had some really frank, hard conversations about what needs to happen to our profession in future. We also had some singing and dancing in there as well (thanks Anna, wish I'd known the lyrics!)
If you'd like to know when The Kindness Conference is online, remember to subscribe to Midwife Diaries and you'll be the first to find out.
In the meantime, here are the three most important lessons I learnt on the hilly Bradford campus:
1. You have far more power than you realise
Aryanne Oade is a chartered psychologist who supports clients who are addressing workplace bullying. She has helped many midwives ho have been bullied. At the conference, she said that you as the bullied are far more capable of standing up for yourself than it first appears. Making you feel like you have no power is one of the things bullies rely on.
Phrases like 'we both know my clinical practice is strong' said with confident body language and eye contact can remove the potential for bullying to occur again, especially if it's done early in the cycle.
2. The most important things in life are your relationships
Midwife consultant Ian Kemp talked about a rough patch in his career. At one point he didn't want to wake up in the morning because of the bullying he experienced. He nearly lost his family.
The resounding message from the experienced midwives was that your relationships and happiness are more important than your career. Seek help (the Association of Radical Midwives are great for this) and know that if you're prioritising your wellbeing, leaving a job role can be exactly the right thing to do for both you and midwifery.
Several years on, Ian looks back and can see he almost lost everything because of 'bloody-mindedness' as his wife put it. After a change of jobs and a few years being a consultant, he radiates happiness and passion. Your happiness will actually translate to better things for midwifery in the long run, don't be afraid to walk out if necessary.
3. Never, ever give up on being the midwife you want to be
Anna Coonan-Byrom and Sheena Byrom and many other expert speakers shared details of how difficult things have got for them over the years.
They have often been accused of 'being annoying' and there were stories that are too sensitive to share on a blog, but believe me, when you look at these two ultra-successful midwifery leaders, you'd never imagine them being made fun of or bullied.
In reality, they have faced sickening challengeds over the years.
They have surrounded themselves with like-minded people and used their own mother/daughter bond to propel themselves forward, knowing that their enthusiasm will make a difference for women.
No matter how crazy and ambitious your midwifery goals are, or how 'idealistic' you think you're doing, there are others who are like you and are just waiting to join you.
Never, ever give up on being the kind of midwife you want to be.