I recently read that it really does seem that David Bowie kept the world in order; proof is the rather crazy world events that have occurred this year since his very sad demise. It has been a roller coaster year and its not quite over yet…
The certainties are a lot less certain following Brexit and Trump or perhaps the illusion of certainty is being uncovered. In my most optimistic moments (there has only been one and it was after a shandy) I think perhaps the changes afoot will bring opportunities, improvements and a fresh approach to long standing problems. But then I look to those who hold power and fear that the marginalised will become more silenced and I reach for the chocolate cake and worry.
What will all this mean for maternity care? The impact of these world events ripple all over and impact on relationships, behaviours, tolerances and social norms. The more inclusive, socially aware and diverse societies tend to develop quicker and stronger than those which are narrow minded, punitive and reduce the rights of those who are not represented in positions of power. Are we growing as a nation (or world) or have we just shut the doors and built the walls that will restrict and limit our growth and development?
Will maternity services become more restricted by lack of funds and staffing pressure to meet the needs of pregnant women and will there be less tolerance for those who want something different from the often limited pathways of care offered? In my work life journey I have heard some terrible birth stories of women feeling isolated, ridiculed and made to feel unsafe for wanting to make their own decisions at a time where they are most vulnerable; heavily pregnant or in labour. I have also heard warming stories of those same women being supported, guided and respected for making their own choices. We need less of the first and the norm of the second.
My worry over events of this year is that the ripples will mean women will be heard less, there will be less diversity and growth and the options will reduce. But we must not retreat to cake, we must put the fork down and speak out!
There are lovely things happening as well that balances my cake wobbles. It is wonderful that the fabulous Neighbourhood Midwives have signed their first NHS contract with Waltham Forest CCG, a great collective working that will surely strengthen maternity services as well as being a great option for women in that pocket of the world. Congratulations to them!
A few weeks ago I ran a breech skills workshop for student midwives who were inspirational in their commitment and enthusiasm to learn and shape their own midwifery journey and that of the future maternity services. So warmed by the next generation of birth workers I committed then and there to do as many breech skills workshops as possible, for cost, to do my bit for increasing birth diversity, ensuring options remain for those who tread a different path and support staff who need just confidence in their own breech knowledge and skills. So if you fancy a fab breech skills workshop in your area give me a shout – I may even bring my chocolate cake!