Highlights from the Third Annual #BirthTrauma conference #birthtrauma18

birth trauma study day

The first week back in January and I am invited by the wonderful becca moore @dr_bjm to share some research thoughts and ideas at the 3rd annual birth trauma study day in London = 

First of all..thank you for arranging and facilitating this day. It really is growing in strength and popularity year on year as this topic gathers momentum. You are a true #maternityleader for making this happen. Thank you also to those who participated in such important debates and discussion…and to those supported me to present my work as a new mum (baby Loveday is now 6 weeks old and as you can see….she was able to join her mum on stage 🙂

Image may contain: 1 person

The discussions that followed on Twitter were also pretty awesome and continue to thrive online. I can see may collaborations being born out of this day…what change may come I wonder? – #BirthTrauma19 will be even bigger and better…that’s for sure!

What struck me most about the speakers involved in this conference, is that every one of us was drawing from some kind of personal experience. Our past traumas had been turned into passion…fire and fury to make a change in the world…to make is better for the next person in some way.

“We had turned our wounds into wisdom.” – Me

Thank you to those who engaged in my presentation. I was thrilled to share some of my PhD work and the findings of other research studies to raise awareness of psychological distress in midwifery populations. The beautiful images below capture some of the key messages from my slides.


small things


Further statistics around midwives at work can be found here.

Traumatised midwives

compassion fatigue

I also really enjoyed the ethical debates around providing online anonymity and confidentiality for midwives in psychological distress who wish to seek help. You can read the wider arguments for this here. Do you have any further thoughts on this? I would love to hear them!

Once again…Thank you so much to everyone for making this event so amazing. The quote that I believe summed up the vibe in the room was this…shared by @millihill .


“If we can find ways of harvesting the energy in women’s oceanic grief we shall move mountains.” –Germaine Greer


Overall take home messages…

  • Tailored care is needed for every family
  • A healthy baby is not ALL that matters
  • Good outcomes include good psychological outcomes
  • Kindness and compassion cost nothing yet can really make a difference
  • Appropriate use of language can make or break the birthing experience
  • The power of listening can never be underestimated
  • We must remember that fathers and wider family members may also be affected by trauma in the birth room.
  • A traumatic experience is always subjective. What is traumatic for some, may be unremarkable for others.
  • Mothers can have a positive experience of a clinically complicated birth, or a traumatic experience of a seemingly straightforward birth.
  • Any past trauma can always be re-awoken
  • The best care is delivered by a workforce that is healthy and cared for.

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


5 career tips for a successful academic application

This wisdom comes from the 10th annual ‘Life beyond the PhD’ conference () hosted at Cumberland Lodge. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to attend and gather a multitude of hints and tips for my academic career…Now I plan to share them here for those who wish to read them…

Tip One: Potential employers will want to know how they will benefit from having you work with them as much as, if not more than, how you will benefit from working with them. Why should they invest their money in you? Will they be able to tolerate you on a daily basis? This means that you will need to come across as unselfish, and avoid saying the same thing as everyone else…be different!

Tip Two: Avoid jargon, and make sure you back up your claims with lived examples! For instance..It is no use saying that your I.T skills are fabulous if you don’t back this up with a real lived example of how you have used your I.T skills to do something of real value.

Tip Three: A potential employer will only take a few seconds to scan your CV. Therefore, you need to cut out the gimmicks, reduce it to no more than a couple of pages and make sure that you have used clear and easy to read formatting. Everything on your CV should be in reverse chronological order, and tailored to the job you are applying for. Your cover letter should never be a replication of your CV, yet it should hold lived examples of the skills you have presented.

Tip four: Within your interview,  it will not necessarily matter what answer you give to any awkward interview questions, as long as your answers are void of generic jargon and backed up with a sound rationale for your choice. Also, it is important not to pretend that either you or your research is impervious to failure…what matters is how you handle things and learn.

Tip five: Be yourself, and be honest about any career gaps…being evasive over these issues will only arouse suspicions…the truth is always far more welcome….It’s often not as big a deal as you think, and a good employer will appreciate what you are planning to do to get back on track.

For further hints and tips see this early career researcher blog.

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤



The #QualWorld2017 Virtual international conference, hosted by the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (@theIIQM)

The virtual international conference, hosted by the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM)  is the first online conference focused on the subject of qualitative research. I gravitated towards this as something new, exciting and inclusive. Plus, as my new daughter has just been born….a virtual online conference seemed to be the perfect way to share my latest work and breastfeed at the same time.

The poster I presented was:

Exploring the perceptions of new mother’s in relation to psychological distress and workplace support in midwifery. A Patient and Public Involvement study

I was representing The Centre for Innovative Research Across the Life Course at Coventry University. This work was formed in partnership with Dr. Gemma Pearce and Dr. Elizabeth Bailey, also from Coventry University.

Qual-World Interactive Virtual Conference

The conference theme was: Qualitative Research Across Boundaries

Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Amanda Kenny, La Trobe University, Australia
Prof. Trish Greenhalgh, University of Oxford, UK
Prof. Martyn Hammersley, The Open University, UK
Prof. Babette Babich, Fordham University, The Jesuit University of New York City

Here are a few snapshots of the keynote speeches…

As an early career researcher (post-doc) I really appreciated the insights shared in relation to progressing an academic career and thriving in a research centre. The idea that collaborations and publications can be planned to achieve maximum impact really appeals to me…. a few hints and tips in the right direction were very welcome.

I have yet to use or explore storytelling and narratives in my research career thus far in any great depth. As such, it was really inspiring to see how these have been used in other qualitative work. Ethnography is also an area fairly new to me, and so being introduced to new topics in this way really helped me to digest and think about new directions for my own research.

Then, to  fall in love with philosophy again was wonderful…looking at what makes science….science….within the terminology of the postmodern? Lot’s to think about here. And certainly lot’s to discuss. The online chat room was on the go throughout the conference, and on Twitter. The conversations really made me think about my own future directions in research and how it may be grounded.

Yet the best thing about this conference for me was the fact that it has been so accessible for me. Having just had a new baby girl, this conference gave me the chance to share new findings from our PPI study from the comfort of home. This meant that I could care for my baby and breastfeed whilst not missing out on the career I love. Thank you to the conference organizers for making this possible. …and thank you to the Centre for Innovative Research Across the Life Course for funding my place.

As you can see, this tweet of my experience was the most popular one of the conference… I think that these accessible conferences are really making history and showing the way for future conferences of this type.

In conclusion…I would like to reiterate the following tweet:

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


What makes a good midwifery manager? Satisfaction vs Dissatisfaction in the workplace

Reducing stress and fatigue among maternity staff is key to reducing baby deaths and brain injuries during childbirth, according to a detailed new analysis published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

This ‘each baby counts’ initiative confirms that “Decision-making is more difficult when staff feel stressed or tired”.

“This report shows that there is a need for additional support for our maternity staff and units so that every mother and every family has the healthiest possible outcome from pregnancy and birth,” said Judy Ledger, founder and chief executive of the charity Baby LifeLine.

This news supports my own research quest, as I work to find new interventions to support midwives in work-related psychological distress.

This state of affairs also suggests that it may be prudent to do all that we can to ensure midwife satisfaction in the workplace. In fact, anything good in the workplace has to be safer/better than the bad stuff right?

At the 31st International Confederation of Midwives’ Triennial Congress held in June 2017, I stumbled upon an interesting research presentation on what could promote satisfaction/dissatisfaction in the midwifery workplace. More specifically, the characteristics of midwifery management behaviors were used to demonstrate what might promote satisfaction and dissatisfaction in managerial relationships. I will translate my brief notes from the session here:

In promoting workplace satisfaction, a midwifery manager:

  • Is supportive
  • Respects, values and appreciates midwives
  • Is an advocate for staff
  • Follows through on promises
  • Facilitates new ventures and learning
  • Cares for staff
  • Is aware of stressors

In promoting workplace dissatisfaction, a midwifery manager:

  • Is punitive
  • Is demanding
  • Is inconsistent
  • Is ineffectual
  • Is ‘Terrible’
  • Tolerates or perpetrates bullying
  • Does not listen

Not a big shock here right?…I mean it’s not rocket science. Nevertheless, this knowledge must be shared in order to promote healthy workplace cultures in the pursuit of excellence in maternity care.

The best midwifery care can only be delivered by midwives at their best…. Can we all begin to set our working day by these rules? Can we all be a little kinder? caring?..respectful to one another?

fist pump

This was just one of the many things learnt at this year’s 

In time, I will try to share more about why 

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤



Highlights from the 31st ICM Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada #ICM2017 #ICMLive


My vacation is now over following a visit to the 31st International Confederation of Midwives Triennial Congress in Toronto, Canada (ICM). I think we would all agree that this was an emotional occasion, as thousands of midwives came together from all over the world to both celebrate our wonderful profession and share new research, knowledge and ideas about our exciting future.

I was personally in awe of our midwifery leaders, who certainly inspired a passion for change, strength and future thinking in midwifery practice. I would like to think that my work will go some way towards building a bright future for the profession, and one day I hope to stand beside those on the main stage of midwifery who are ultimately steering the ship. Yet for now, I am learning from a plethora of inspirational midwives about how to thrive and implement change. As I come to the end of my PhD, I reflect on how I might move forward in partnership with the most inspiring midwives I know. It was an honor to spend time with them in Canada….see all of those flags?…What a wealth of knowledge!

Naturally, we were flying the flag for the Brits…

Throughout the conference I naturally gravitated towards all of the midwifery workforce presentations, my favorite and most passionate area of workforce research…Here are some highlights from these sessions below:

I would like to thank all of these wonderful research groups for sharing their insights with me, and for helping my understanding of midwifery workplace wellbeing to grow. I would also like to thank those at Nottingham University and Elsevier for inviting me to their exclusive evening receptions. I felt very honored to be among the best academic midwives in the world!

Thank you also to those of you who came to see me present some of my own research (done in partnership with my wonderful colleagues at Coventry University and NHS England of course). It was really enlightening to hear your thoughts on the staff experience!…The best is yet to come!

Equally, I would like to thank the audience who came to discuss my PhD work following my presentation at this wonderful conference. Indeed, there was much interest in this work going forward, and whilst other interventions were presented for mothers and babies, it was clear that by following the MRC framework for developing complex interventions and by incorporating the Revised Transactional Model (RTM) of Occupational Stress and Coping, this intervention, being deeply rooted within an evidence base, is now ready for co-creation.

It was particularly interesting to hear the audience keen to invest in this project and disseminate it widely across the profession. As an online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress, this intervention certainly has the potential to be widely adopted. This was music to the ears of a global midwifery audience, who may often see things developed in other countries, and yet be unavailable in their own area of practice.

Again, the theme arose here that midwives wanted a place to talk and seek help confidentially, away from traditional channels. I see such places growing organically in the online arena, yet none seem to be fit for purpose, evidence based or co-created on a large scale. To me this suggests that the next phase of my research (to build and test an evidence and theory based online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress) will be well received by the midwifery community, especially if it has the support of larger healthcare organisations who can champion its implementation, dissemination and testing.

To spread and embed a large and complex intervention such as this across the midwifery profession would indeed be a legacy. Yet this work may also support excellence in maternity care, increase safety and support effective retention and recruitment strategies for maternity services around the world. As such, taking this work forward will indeed be crucial since it has been reported that reducing stress and fatigue among maternity staff is key to reducing baby deaths and brain injuries during childbirth, according to a detailed new analysis published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The challenge is to turn the vision for online support into practice.


This was a wonderful, inspiring and thought provoking conference. To see a more detailed day by day summary, please see the wonderful blog by my dear friend @Dianethemidwife ….

Day One

Day two

Day three

Day four

Day five

Last day

It is sad that my time in Toronto is now over, but I have returned home with a new found sense of hope and enthusiasm for doing great things in the midwifery profession….

Until next time..🤚🇨🇦🇬🇧


If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


“Midwifery…It’s about the birth of humanity…” #zepherinalecture17

This is just a short post to summarise this year’s  hosted by the . What an inspiring day in midwifery it was.

Zepherina Veitch (1836-1894) was a midwife who put her energies into the cause of midwifery reform. I can identify with this, as my own work focuses largely on supporting the midwifery profession. As we improve….we make reforms. I whole heartedly want midwives to become leaders and agents of change for a better future. I just happen to believe that the midwifery profession will only reach it’s true potential once midwives are adequately supported in the workplace.

Much of the lecture given by the inspiring   was focused upon ‘the woman’s experience’. Whilst we all aspire to deliver the best experiences for the women we care for, I couldn’t help but add on these words to each phrase ‘and midwives too’…

cover image for caring to change reportBut then this document appeared.

Caring to change

How compassionate leadership can stimulate innovation in health care…

Here, we begin to see how compassion in the workplace can stimulate excellence in the healthcare services….If we care to change. Compassionate leadership turns into a compassionate workplace culture…

This lecture also focused on the development of humanised care in favour of medicalised care. A no brainer right?…Perhaps we can ‘humanise’ the workplace for midwives too?

After all….We need more midwives right?

But the pinnacle of this event was seeing the pinnard being handed from today with her final flourish and welcome to  …the new president of the Royal College of Midwives

Also…a huge congratulations go to Onya,   and – new fellows of the . 👏🏽👏🏽😀💜

But at the end of the day…I got to meet some of the most inspirational midwives…one of those being the wonderful  …I can certainly recommend next year’s  ..come along and be inspired!.. Because we all need a little positivity in our lives! You get it with midwifery….”It’s about the birth of humanity…” after all…

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaro; The Academic Midwife; This blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤