0

1 in 20 pregnancies affected by hypermobile #EhlersDanlosSyndrome & Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders

If you’re interested in childbearing with hypermobile #EhlersDanlos syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders our new article is out now…

👉 Understanding hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders in the context of childbearing: An international qualitative study

Co-authors include Gemma Pearce & Emma Reinhold 🙌🏻

🎓💓

Hypermobile #EhlersDanlos Syndrome (hEDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD) have profound and life-threatening consequences in childbearing, and it is now estimated that hEDS/HSD affect 6 million (4.6%) pregnancies globally per year..rounded up, this equates to almost 1 in 20 pregnancies!

 

grayscale photo of woman wearing ring

What did participants describe?

  • A worsening of symptoms during pregnancy
  • Postnatal complications
  • Ineffective anaesthesia
  • Long latent phases of labour quickly developing into rapidly progressing active labours and births (precipitate labour/precipitate birth)
  • Maternity staff panicked by unexpected outcomes
  • Healthcare professionals  lacking  knowledge and understanding
  • Poor maternity care resulting in a disengagement from services
  • Birth Trauma
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • An avoidance of future childbearing
  • Difficulties in holding, caring for, bonding with and breastfeeding their babies

Image may contain: text that says "Understanding hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders in the context of childbearing: An international qualitative study"

person in white pants showing left hand

The blog page for this work can be accessed here

How can you help?

  • maternity tool has been co-create to support both professionals and pregnant people in decision making. It is freely available for download and wider use

download maternity tool

hEDSTogether.com is also available to keep everyone up to date with this work via @hEDStogether

If you are using this tool to create an impact in the world, please tell us about it via the contact pages hosted at hEDSTogether.com.

Thanks to everyone who participated in and supported this research!…Let’s keep putting our #hEDSTogether via research!

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

0

New Educational Tools Launched to Support Childbearing with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders

Lactation Conference

On the 5th of May (International Day of the Midwife – #IDM2020) 2020 – The year of the nurse and the midwife, the @hEDStogether team launched new educational tools to support childbearing with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD). Co-incidentally, May is also Ehlers Danlos Syndromes and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders awareness month. You can view the online launch of these tools along with our other @GOLDMidwifery presentations here at the GOLD Online Education Midwifery Conference 2019/2020.

Image

Citation: Pezaro, S., Pearce, G., & Magee, P. (2020). New Educational Tools to Support Childbearing With hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders. GOLD Online Midwifery Conference. May 5th.https://www.goldlearning.com/ce-library/all-lectures/new-educational-tools-detail

The final tools comprised:

  • An i-learn module launched by the Royal College of Midwives to their members (search under the letter ‘H’ for hypermobility in the online library)
  • maternity tool freely available for download and wider use
  • An infomercial to raise awareness and mobilise knowledge in relation childbearing with hEDS/HSD

download maternity tool

We were also able to launch our own website – hEDSTogether.com and keep everyone up to date with the project via @hEDStogether

We have made these tools freely available where possible. You can visit the project page to learn moreIf you are using them to create an impact in the world, please tell us about it via the contact pages hosted at hEDSTogether.com.

Useful hashtags to follow on this topic include:

#EDSmaternity

 #hEDStogether 

#EhlersDanlosSyndrome

#myEDSchallenge

#myHSDchallenge

#EDSAwarenessMonth

#raisingawarenesstogether

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the launch and co-created these tools in partnership with us!…Let’s keep putting our #hEDSTogether via research!

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

0

THE CIRCLE OF TRAUMA FOR PARENTS & PROFESSIONALS #ThinkTraumaNow

Today, ‘Make Birth Better’ (@birthbetter) published it’s new report outlining the circle of Trauma for both parents and professionals. I am immensely proud to have contributed to this report and to work with other esteemed colleagues looking to make a difference in this context.

THE MAKE BIRTH
BETTER SURVEY 2019:
THE CIRCLE OF
TRAUMA FOR
PARENTS AND
PROFESSIONALS

Image

The full report can be found here

#ThinkTraumaNow 

It really is so important that we recognise the trauma birth workers can experience as a result of their work. Many midwifery and obstetric staff are affected by vicarious trauma because of the events they have seen, the conditions they are working in and a lack of emotional support. This is significant because as well as birth workers being entitled to a psychologically safe professional journey, such psychological distress can also result in poorer maternity care.

As a result of this report, the following calls to action have been made:

1. Address trauma prevention for maternity staff and parents.

2. Think long-term about trauma treatment for maternity staff and parents in the future.

3. Act on the requests from Birthrights and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) for maternity services to be ringfenced and for all women to be offered a safe and positive childbirth experience and ensure that new NHS England clinical guidance is followed

#thinktraumanow.png

Click here to read more about this work and the #ThinkTraumaNow campaign

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

0

The History of the Midwife

 

The following post is a guest blog by Nicole Allen:

woman carrying newborn baby

We all know the process of childbirth, but it’s no less magical. Advances in science make the procedure very safe for both the baby and the mother in most countries. It’s routine for most hospitals, except in rare cases when the patient experiences complications. But this wasn’t always the case.

There are countless faces of midwives whose knowledge was passed on from generation to generation. Even today, there are would-be mothers in some parts of the world with no access to doctors who rely on midwives to deliver their babies.

“Midwife”, the common term used for a birthing assistant, comes from Middle English and literally means “with a woman”. In France, they call her (or him; there are male midwives) a “sage-femme” or “wise woman.” The profession predates the medical and nursing professions.

The Prehistoric Way of Giving Birth

Our many-time great-grandmothers birthed their babies with the help of midwives dating back at least as far as biblical times and probably before recorded history. The earliest evidence of the existence of midwifery can be traced back to an ancient Egyptian papyrus (1550 BC). This shows that midwives assisted women in child delivery for more than 2,000 years without assistance from trained professionals.

pregnant woman holding petaled flowers

The American Way of Giving Birth

In the early American colonies, children were birthed with the help of skilled and practised midwives who came from Britain, who in turn transferred these same skills to other women in an informal manner. Later, when West African midwives reached the shores of America to be used as slaves, they assisted in birth too.

After their emancipation, African-American midwives offered their care to poor women,  in the rural parts of the South and were called “granny midwives.”

The American Indian tribes women continued to practice their own cultural birthing tradition, too, which sometimes included a midwife, female friend or relative.

The family experience of home birth narrated by Dervla Murphy in the book Untangling the Maternity Crisis supported the fact that most childbirth during the early 1900s was done at home. She was delivered at home in 1931.

Childbirth then was a regular occurrence at home and did not stimulate anxiety. Midwives were a familiar neighborhood figure who carried a big black bag during the birth of a neighbor.

person touching person's belly

The Medical Way of Giving Birth

In the last half of the 1800s, when medicine was professionalized in the US, midwifery became threatened as laws requiring formal education were slowly extended to midwives. Even though there were few midwifery schools, midwives were still needed and could not be totally eradicated since some doctors were unwilling to cater to poor populations. Some midwives continued to practice until the 1920s without government control.

It was in the 1910s and ’20s, the doctors started to lay down the foundation of a pathology-oriented childbirth medical model and usurp the traditional roles of midwives.

First, two studies found that the training most obstetricians received was poor and that hospitalization during birth would improve it. The poor, who most needed midwives, could go to charity hospitals instead. This would give the doctors more practice as well.

Then, in 1914, “twilight sleep”—delivery where the woman is anesthetized with a combination of morphine and scopolamine—was introduced. It was intended to relieve the pain and remove the memory of giving birth. This was widely accepted and desired by upper-class women.

About this time, a Dr. Joseph DeLee described childbirth as a destructive pathological process that damages the mother and the baby, and the only way to minimize this was through medically attended childbirth.

This claim made it impossible for midwives to facilitate child birth and made the use of ether, sedatives, forceps, and episiotomies routine. Child birth went from a physiological process to one in which the course of labor must be tightly controlled.

The value of midwives is being relearned, but there are new concerns.

Help for trauma

In more recent years, an aspect of the midwifery profession that is being looked into is the difficulties the midwives themselves experience during delivery. For instance, if s/he attends a traumatic birth, oftentimes s/he alone is there to handle it.

A 2015  study on the emotional and traumatic work of midwives and the commonly adversarial relationship with obstetricians (aptly titled “Midwives Overboard!”) shows that midwives may end up developing psychological and behavioral symptoms of distress, including compassion fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and secondary traumatic stress.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s increasing interest in the role of midwives underscores their importance in delivering children. Midwives play an important role in the achievement of its millennium development goals: reducing child mortality and eradicating maternal death. Midwives are a key element in the delivery of sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health (SRMNH) care worldwide, especially in rural areas.

To improve the delivery of patient care as well as the staff experience, maternity services must invest in the mental health and the well-being of all midwives, including nurse-midwives and obstetric nurses.

blue and black USB cable

Also check out this article: Oh baby: seven things you probably didn’t know about midwives

Author Bio:
Nicole is a freelance writer and educator based in the Michigan and believes that her writing is an extension of her career as a tutor. She covers many topics like travel, mental health and education. She is a key contributor at Chapters Capistrano where she covers topics like addiction recovery, holistic treatments and health education. When she isn’t writing, you might find Nicole running, hiking, and swimming. She has participated in several 10K races and hopes to compete in a marathon one day.

0

A Call for Research Participants: Maternity Staff & Service Users Required

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SURVEYS BELOW ARE NOW CLOSED

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED

recruitment poster hEDS womens survey

We are currently looking for people who meet the following criteria to complete an online survey in relation to their childbearing experiences:

  • Women who have been diagnosed with either hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and (hEDS), Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD), EDS type III, EDS hypermobility type, or Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
  • Those who are over the age of 18 years
  • Those who have given birth in either the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada New Zealand, or Australia since 2007

If you meet the above criteria and would like to complete this survey then

please click HERE

What is the purpose of this survey?

  •          To identify the childbearing outcomes associated with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) or Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD)
  •          To explore experiences of maternity care among women with hEDS/HSD
  •          To evaluate the impact of recently published maternity care considerations for that childbearing the context of a hEDS/EDS diagnosis
  •          To identify ways in which maternity care could be improved for women with hEDS/ HSD.

——————————————————————————————————————————

recruitment poster hEDS maternity staff survey

We are also looking for maternity staff  (anyone who provides clinical care to childbearing women) in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia to complete a 20 minute questionnaire about providing maternity care to women with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) and/or Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD)

If you are a maternity staff member and would like to complete this survey,

please click HERE 

Please note: To participate, you DO NOT need to have knowledge or experience of caring for women with hEDS/HSD.

If you are a maternity staff member and would like to complete this survey,

please click HERE 

ED Society site

What is the purpose of this survey?

To explore awareness and knowledge of hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and (hEDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD) among maternity staff To explore what decisions maternity staff may make when caring for a women with hEDS/HSD To indicate how maternity staff could be supported to care for women with hEDS/HSD. A 2018 review was published which detailed maternity care considerations for women with hEDS/HSD. For participants who have read this review, this survey will also explore whether and how understanding and practice related to hEDS/HSD may have been impacted. Please note that if you have not read this review, you can still complete this survey.

Image result for online survey

Types of staff we want to hear from:

  • Consultant midwife
  • Senior midwife
  • Midwife
  • Student midwife
  • Nurse midwife
  • Maternity support worker
  • Junior obstetrician
  • Obstetric registrar
  • Consultant obstetrician
  • Junior anaesthetist
  • Consultant anaesthetist
  • Obstetric nurse
  • Physiotherapist
  • General Practitioner (GP)…etc.

If you are a maternity staff member and would like to complete this survey,

please click HERE 

@JennytheM poem

——————————————————————————————————————————

Follow this entire project online with #EDSMaternity

@GemmaSPearce @SallyPezaro@DrEReinhold@LaurenMPurdy

We will share the results when they become available!

Thanks to everyone who has completed & shared this survey so far!

Thanks

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

0

Midwives experience domestic abuse too…so how can they be supported in the workplace?

On Thursday October 4th 2018, The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) launched a report entitled ‘Safe Places? Workplace Support for those Experiencing Domestic Abuse’ at its Annual Conference in Manchester Central.

love shouldn't hurt-printed on back of woman

I was privileged to be asked to perform and write up the analysis for this report. The findings truly moved me. If you know my work at all, you will know that it is heavily focused upon securing the psychological wellbeing of midwives. This is because I do not believe that excellence in maternity care can be delivered to mothers and babies without the provision of effective support for midwives.

Findings here revealed that some midwives trained to recognise domestic abuse and support women, were sometimes not recognising that they themselves are victims of domestic abuse.

“I was allowed to stay overnight on my delivery suite to avoid going home to my abusive partner”

“I was made to feel I was a nuisance, constantly asking me and contacting me, pressurizing me in to coming back to work. I gave in and did but I was soon off again as I still wasn’t well, and I then left midwifery because I didn’t want to be dismissed. I didn’t receive any support that was effective for me”

“I have and was been treated very badly by my place of work, absolutely no support or care and compassion”

“I was given a specific senior midwife who I could go to for support, to discuss things at times when home was particularly bad and to deal with any sickness absence – helpful as one person knew what was going on and I could be truthful, especially about the reasons for sickness absence sometimes”

“All staff should be asked about domestic abuse or violence on a regular basis”

“Police and social services were unhelpful, and no support provided. Neither I nor my children were offered counselling or directed to appropriate services despite asking several times for help. One police officer even commented that due to my ethnicity I could handle the situation myself.”

person holding white printer paper

Based on the findings the RCM has put forward the following evidence-based recommendations. These will enable maternity service managers and NHS Trusts/Boards to support staff experiencing domestic abuse more effectively.

  • All NHS Trusts/Health Boards should develop specific policies to support who are victims of domestic abuse, aligned to existing guidance from the NHS Staff Council developed in 2017.
  • NHS Trusts/Health Boards should provide and publicise confidential domestic abuse support services for affected staff, including access to IDVAs, external counselling and legal services as appropriate.
  • NHS Trusts/Health Boards should ensure that all managers and supervisors are trained on domestic abuse issues, so that they can recognise signs of domestic abuse in their staff and confidently undertake their safeguarding obligations.
  •  NHS Trusts/Health Boards should ensure that staff at all levels are trained on domestic abuse issues and made aware of relevant workplace policies as part of their induction programme and continuous updating and are made aware of support services.

It was a pleasure to work with esteemed colleagues at the RCM to put this report together. Midwives and maternity support workers are a highly valued workforce whom we rely on to provide optimal care for mothers and babies. It is our sincere hope that this report will enable maternity service managers and NHS Trusts/Boards to support staff experiencing domestic abuse more effectively.

“Thank you to all of the midwives and maternity support workers who took part in this survey. The wellbeing of maternity staff is intrinsically linked with the safety and quality of maternity services. Your thoughts, feelings and experiences have helped us to arrive at a deeper understanding of the resources required to support those experiencing domestic abuse.”

woman carrying newborn baby

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

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

0

How does patient and public involvement work in research? An example exploring midwives’ workplace wellbeing.

Patient and public involvement or #PPI is defined by INVOLVE (part of, and funded by, the National Institute for Health Research) as: 

“Research being carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them. This includes, for example, working with research funders to prioritise research, offering advice as members of a project steering group, commenting on and developing research materials and undertaking interviews with research participants.”

three person pointing the silver laptop computer

In our latest publication, we explain how patient and public involvement works in maternity service research. Here, we asked childbearing women about their experiences in relation to the workplace wellbeing of midwives. We also asked them how they felt about new research looking to create and test an online intervention designed to support midwives. We did this via a discussion group, where participants were offered refreshments and remuneration for their time. Our aim was to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the perceptions of new mothers in relation to the barriers to receiving high quality maternity care?
  2. What are the perceptions of new mothers in relation to the psychological wellbeing of midwives working in maternity services?
  3. What are the perceptions of new mothers in relation to a research proposal outlining the development and evaluation of an online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress?

These PPI activities helped us as researchers to do the following:

  • Better understand this research problem from the perspectives of new mothers
  • Validate the direction of future research plans
  • Explore new areas for data collection based on what really mattered to mothers and their babies
  • Improve upon the design of the proposed online intervention based on what really mattered to mothers and babies.

You can read our full methodology via the linked citation below:

Pezaro, Sally, Gemma Pearce, and Elizabeth Bailey. “Childbearing women’s experiences of midwives’ workplace distress: Patient and public involvement.” British Journal of Midwifery 26.10 (2018): 659-669.

This article was launched in the October edition of the British Journal of Midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives annual conference in 2018 .

white and black Together We Create graffiti wall decor

Put simply, the findings in relation to what participants said were analysed thematically and turned into meaningful insights or ‘PPI coutcomes’. In this sense, we used a co-design approach to inform the direction of new research. How did this work exactly? See figure below.

Figure 1. Overall findings

Initially, we considered that it may have been useful to include midwives in PPI activities, as they were to be the intended recipients of the intervention proposed. However, INVOLVE briefing notes state that:

“When using the term ‘public’ we include patients, potential patients, carers and people who use health and social care services as well as people from organisations that represent people who use services. Whilst all of us are actual, former or indeed potential users of health and social care services, there is an important distinction to be made between the perspectives of the public and the perspectives of people who have a professional role in health and social care services.”

A such, we could not include midwives in these PPI activities due to them having a ‘professional role in health and social care services’. Nevertheless, as midwives were the intended end users and direct beneficiary of the intervention proposed, we argued that they should “not necessarily be excluded from PPI activities simply because they treat patients”. This debate lends itself to further academic discussion and we welcome ideas on this going forward.

two person standing on gray tile paving

Both national and international strategies and frameworks relating to healthcare services tend to focus on putting the care and safety of patients first , yet these findings suggest that to deliver the best care to new mothers effectively, the care of the midwife must equally be prioritised. As such, we now intend to seek further funding to continue this work and secure excellence in maternity care.

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

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

1

10 Top tips for caring for women with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in pregnancy for International Day of the Midwife #IDM2018 & #EDS awareness month

 or ‘International Day of the Midwife’ falls on May the 5th of every year. The theme for 2018 in three languages is…

  • Midwives leading the way with quality care
  • Sages-femmes, ouvrons la voie avec la qualité des soins
  • Matronas liderando el camino con un cuidado de calidad 

Also… Every May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) awareness month around the world.

As such….for , and EDS awareness month… I shared 10 top tips for caring for women with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) during pregnancy birth and beyond. These tips come from my latest paper, authored in partnership with Dr. Gemma Pearce (@GemmaSPearce) and Dr. Emma Reinhold (@DrEReinhold ), entitled …

Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome during pregnancy, birth and beyond

Here, we present care considerations for midwives and the multidisciplinary team caring for this unique subgroup of childbearing women. However, we hope that women with hEDS will also benefit from this paper, as they make decisions in partnership with their professional health care teams. You can read the press release from this paper here.

I would personally like to thank the board members of the British Journal of Midwifery for making this article FREE for all to read. I would also like to thank the Royal college of Midwives for sharing news of the article here…and the Nursing Times for sharing further news here.

So what can midwives do to maximize the quality of care given to women with hEDS throughout pregnancy birth and beyond?…First of all….Know the facts…

  • There have been no prevalence studies since EDS received a major reclassification in 2017
  • Earlier estimates from 2006 suggest a prevalence rate of 0.75-2% for hyper mobile EDS
  • hEDS is the most common form of EDS
  • Up to 78% of women with hEDS could also have a diagnosis of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
  • POTS predominantly occurs in women of childbearing age
  • EDS is considered to remain largely under diagnosed.

Tips for midwives

  1. Discuss individual needs with women, as no two cases will be the same. Do this early, and always in partnership with the woman and the wider multidisciplinary healthcare team.
  2. Consider early referral to obstetric, physiotherapy and anaesthetic teams in partnership with the woman.
  3. Consider the need for alternate maternal positioning during pregnancy, birth and beyond. To minimise the risk of injury, positioning should be led by the mother.
  4. As wound healing can be problematic, the use of non-tension, non-dissolvable, deep double sutures, left in for at least 14 days is advisable.
  5. Wait longer for local anaesthetics to take effect and consider giving maximum dosage. Always be led by the mother on whether pain relief is sufficient
  6. Always consider the significance of a routine observation in light of existing POTS and/or EDS symptoms
  7. Promote spontaneous pushing rather than directed pushing during birth
  8. Promote effective pain management and the use of therapeutic birthing environments to promote reductions in stress
  9. Consider additional joint support for newborns suspected of having hEDS
  10. Document all joint dislocations and bruising marks on the newborn from birth to avoid misdiagnosis and/or wrongful accusations of mistreatment.

Research into EDS and childbearing is in it’s very early stages. We hope to build on this work to make a difference for all women with hEDS during pregnancy, birth and beyond.

pregnant belly

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

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

 

 

0

Highlights from the Third Annual #BirthTrauma conference #birthtrauma18

birth trauma study day

Image credit: Scriberia Ltd (@scriberian).

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.

selfcare

Image credit: Scriberia Ltd (@scriberian).

small things

Image credit: Scriberia Ltd (@scriberian).

64%

Image credit: Scriberia Ltd (@scriberian).

Further statistics around midwives at work can be found here.

Traumatised midwives

Image credit: Scriberia Ltd (@scriberian).

compassion fatigue

Image credit: Scriberia Ltd (@scriberian).

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 💚💙💜❤

0

Exploring ‘obstetric violence’ and ‘birth rape’

trauma hiding.jpg

Recently, the wonderful Ibone Olza (Perinatal Psychiatrist and Childbirth Activist from Childbirth is Ours, Spain) contacted me about her work on obstetric violence, birth rape and professional trauma. After reading her papers and watching her present her work, I was compelled to document and reflect upon some of the issues raised, here.

The following points are made within the paper: Fernández, Ibone Olza. “PTSD and obstetric violence.” Midwifery today with international midwife 105 (2013): 48-9.

Birth trauma has been defined as “Actual or threatened injury or death to the mother or her baby” (Beck 2008). Yet such trauma lies in the eye of the beholder, therefore, any trauma experienced by either the mother, newborn or the birth attendant may be due to a subjective experience of stress which does not need to fit any particular criteria necessarily. This means that some traumatic events may be subjective in their nature, and as such, we cannot judge what may or may not cause another person trauma. It is a personal interpretation or perception.

A meta-ethnographic analysis of studies about women’s perceptions and experiences of a traumatic birth reported that women are often traumatized as a result of the actions or inactions of midwifery staff (Elmir et al. 2010). Whatever, such inactions or actions may be…women often use words such as ‘barbaric’, ‘intrusive’, ‘horrific’ and ‘degrading’ to describe their mistreatment (Thomson and Downe 2008).

For Hodges, drugging or cutting a pregnant woman with no medical indication is an act of violence, even when performed by a medical professional in a hospital. Inappropriate medical treatment is also clearly abusive, although few women are aware that this is deliberate mistreatment (Hodges 2009).

The term ‘birth rape’ has been used by women who feel that their bodies have been violated. Kitzinger highlighted that many women who have experienced a traumatic birth display similar symptoms to rape survivors (Kitzinger 2006). The video below explores these issues in greater detail, as we can hear the lovely  Ibone Olza  sharing this work.

 

One of the things I was most encouraged about, was that  Ibone Olza  considers the wellbeing of the midwifery staff in her work. Birth attendants are often also traumatized by these acts, and may feel powerless to intervene. In a recent study by Beck, 26% of obstetric nurses met all the diagnostic criteria for screening positive for PTSD due to exposure to their patients who were traumatized (Beck and Gable 2012). Being present at  abusive deliveries can magnify staffs’ exposure to birth trauma.

staff use phrases such as…

“the physician violated her”

“a perfect delivery turned violent”

“unnecessary roughness with her perineum”

“felt like an accomplice to a crime”

“I felt like I was watching a rape.”

….to describe the guilt that ensued when they felt like they had failed women or they did not speak up and challenge/question…

Article 51 establishes that: The following acts implemented by health personnel are considered acts of obstetric violence:

  1. Untimely and ineffective attention of obstetric emergencies
  2. Forcing the woman to give birth in a supine position, with legs raised, when the necessary means to perform a vertical delivery are available
  3. Impeding the early attachment of the child with his/her mother without a medical cause thus preventing the early attachment and blocking the possibility of holding, nursing or breastfeeding immediately after birth
  4. Altering the natural process of low-risk delivery by using acceleration
    techniques, without obtaining voluntary, expressed and informed consent of the woman
  5. Performing delivery via cesarean section, when natural childbirth is possible, without obtaining voluntary, expressed, and informed consent from the woman

(D’Gregorio 2010)

trauma

Yet whilst people do bad things, it is important to remember that they are not necessarily bad people…

This work explains how professionals may exert obstetric violence due to:

  • Lack of technical skills to deal with emotional and sexual aspects of childbirth.
  • Unsolved trauma. The medicalization of childbirth produces more severe iatrogenic
    complications (Johanson, Newburn and Macfarlane 2002; Belghiti et al. 2011). If the
    professionals do not have a supportive space to reflect or to deal with this aspect of iatrogenic care, they may fall into a spiral of continuously increased medicalization as a defensive strategy. Childbirth is then perceived as a very dangerous event, “a bomb ready to explode,” without realizing that interventions cause more unnecessary interventions and pain.
  • Professional burnout in birth attendants will lead to increased dehumanized care and therefore never-ending figures of women experiencing childbirth as very traumatic.

..and so the challenge will be to identify and address these root causes to ensure that maternity staff are able to provide excellence in midwifery care. My work explores how we might support the psychological wellbeing of health care staff may increase levels of humanity and compassion in care. I hope to keep in touch with Ibone Olza and many others around the world who share the same passion for this work. Together we may collectively work towards a time where maternity workers are psychologically safer, and therefore better able to provide the excellence in care they strive to give.

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 💚💙💜❤

References and further reading

  • Soet JE, Brack GA, DiIorio C. Prevalence and predictors of women’s experience of psychological trauma during childbirth. Birth 2003 Mar;30(1):36-46.
  • Creedy DK, Shochet IM, Horsfall J. Childbirth and the development of acute trauma symptoms: incidence and contributing factors. Birth 2000 Jun;27(2):104-111.
  • Ayers S, Pickering AD. Do women get post traumatic stress disorder as a result of childbirth? A prospective study of incidence. Birth 2001 Jun;28(2):111-118.
  • Beck CT, Gable RK, Sakala C, Declercq ER. Post traumatic stress disorder in new mothers: results from a two stage U.S. national survey. Birth 2011 Sep;38(3):216-227.
  • Allen S. A qualitative analysis of the process, mediating variables and impact of traumatic childbirth. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 1998;16(2-3):107-131.
  • Beck CT, Watson S. Impact of birth trauma on breast-feeding: a tale of two pathways. Nurs Res 2008 Jul-Aug;57(4):228-236.
  • Beck CT. Post-traumatic stress disorder due to childbirth: the aftermath. Nurs Res 2004 Jul-Aug;53(4):216-224.
  • Beck CT. Birth trauma: in the eye of the beholder. Nurs Res 2004 Jan-Feb;53(1):28-35.
  • Ayers S. Delivery as a traumatic event: prevalence, risk factors, and treatment for postnatal posttraumatic stress disorder. Clin Obstet Gynecol 2004 Sep;47(3):552-567.
  • Olde E, van der Hart O, Kleber R, van Son M. Posttraumatic stress following childbirth: a review. Clin Psychol Rev 2006 Jan;26(1):1-16.
  • Elmir R, Schmied V, Wilkes L, Jackson D. Women’s perceptions and experiences of a traumatic birth: a meta-ethnography. J Adv Nurs 2010 Oct;66(10):2142-2153.
  • Nicholls K, Ayers S. Childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder in couples: a qualitative study. Br J Health Psychol 2007 Nov;12(Pt 4):491-509.
  • Ayers S. Thoughts and emotions during traumatic birth: a qualitative study. Birth 2007 Sep;34(3):253-263.
  • Thomson G, Downe S. Widening the trauma discourse: the link between childbirth and experiences of abuse. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 2008 Dec;29(4):268-273.
  • Goldbort JG. Women’s lived experience of their unexpected birthing process. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs 2009 Jan-Feb;34(1):57-62.
  • Sawyer A, Ayers S. Post-traumatic growth in women after childbirth. Psychol Health 2009 Apr;24(4):457-471.
  • Hodges S. Abuse in hospital-based birth settings? J Perinat Educ 2009 Fall;18(4):8-11.
  • Kitzinger S. Birth as rape: There must be an end to ‘just in case’ obstetrics. British Journal of Midwifery 2006;14(9):544-545.
  • Beck CT. The anniversary of birth trauma: failure to rescue. Nurs Res 2006 Nov-Dec;55(6):381-390.
  • Beck CT, Gable RK. A Mixed Methods Study of Secondary Traumatic Stress in Labor and Delivery Nurses. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 2012 Jul 12.
  • Perez D’Gregorio R. Obstetric violence: a new legal term introduced in Venezuela. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2010 Dec;111(3):201-202.
  • Callister LC. Making meaning: women’s birth narratives. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 2004 Jul-Aug;33(4):508-518.
  • Johanson R, Newburn M, Macfarlane A. Has the medicalisation of childbirth gone too far? BMJ 2002 Apr 13;324(7342):892-895.
  • Belghiti J, Kayem G, Dupont C, Rudigoz RC, Bouvier-Colle MH, Deneux-Tharaux C. Oxytocin during labour and risk of severe postpartum haemorrhage: a population-based, cohort-nested case-control study. BMJ Open 2011 Dec 21;1(2):e000514.