#WithWoman – How the Maternity Department at RCHT has been supporting women and families during Covid-19

As today is International Day of the Midwife, we are looking at some of the recent initiatives our maternity services have launched to provide better care and support for parents and their babies.

Due to necessary safeguards in place around Covid-19, many wards and departments have had to go that extra length to ensure our patients are not only treated and cared for as they would normally be, but that they are made to feel comfortable, reassured and protected at all times.

With staff now required to wear PPE, the experience of attending our hospitals can feel strange and impersonal. The Maternity Department at the RCHT has been maintaining a personal connection with women and partners attending the department by creating a series of videos that aim to reassure new parents that beneath the layers of PPE, their midwives and maternity support workers are still the same smiling, caring individuals, there to help and provide compassionate care.

“As Midwives in Cornwall, we wanted to send out a strong message to our community that we are still continuing our care provision as normal”, explains Maternity Matron Zoe Nelson. “By being there for women during their pregnancy, labour and beyond, our midwives know they are making a huge difference to the health of new mums and babies, as well as their birth experiences. This is a unique positon for Midwives and Maternity Support Workers to be in and this is what the launch of the #WithWoman [from where the term ‘midwife’ originates] campaign is all about.”

“We have noticed a rise in our BBA rates (babies born before arrival) without appropriate care in labour”, Zoe continues. “This may be because women are frightened of coming into hospital, or because they don’t want to be separated from their partners. This is concerning, as we don’t want to see indirect effects of Covid-19. We strongly encourage women to continue accessing care as they would normally, and we hope that our recent videos will help women feel safe and reassured when making this decision.” Our Kernow Maternity Voices Partnership are working closely with us to reassure our community and their support is invaluable.

The department’s most recent video brings together a montage of pictures of staff both before and after donning their PPE. For Zoe and her colleagues, the message of the video is simple: “We want to ensure women know that behind our masks and protective equipment we are still smiling and that we’re here to help you.”

“The evening after we released the video, a woman came into the Birth Centre in advanced labour and was introduced to her midwife and Maternity Support Worker”, continues Zoe. “She was absolutely ecstatic that she had seen their full faces in the video earlier that day. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve, and we will continue to post photos of our team members on to the community and MVP Facebook pages to reassure women and their families.”

Christine Hughes, a Maternity Support Worker at the RCHT, took the photos used in the video and described the opportunity as a privilege. “It was great to see so many members of our multi-disciplinary team wanting to be a part of it”, Christine explains. “We were overwhelmed by the number of pictures sent into us by our colleagues. It’s a testament to their dedication that everyone was keen to get involved and get behind the message of the video.”

“It is an absolute honour to be able to support maternity care during this pandemic and to be able to think outside the box, using these initiatives to ensure women and families hear the message loud and clear: we are all here for you”, Christine concludes. “As a Maternity Support Worker, I feel valued. During these challenging times, it’s reassuring to know we are all supported by our management and are in a position to offer emotional and wellbeing support.”

“We are very proud of our maternity team in Cornwall who are working closely to meet the needs of our local population despite their own personal circumstances”, adds Zoe. “Everyone is affected by Covid and yet our maternity services have not reduced in any way. We have made some rapid changes to the service in response to local needs. Georgina Watson, our MVP chair, and Nicola Burnet, Deputy MVP Chair, have been working closely with Deputy Head of Midwifery Angela Bellamy to respond to women’s mental health needs, while Trudie Roberts has set up the 24/7 dedicated Triage and Advice line.”

“We are working closely with our Maternity Voices Partnership to respond to the needs of the local community and are launching our “Maternity Natters, Your Questions Matter”, a Facebook live event on the #IDM2020 Tuesday 5th”, Zoe concludes. “We are also asking parents to remember their midwife by sending us a photo and a few words about what their midwife meant to them. This doesn’t cost anything, but it will be such a boost for the Midwives and remind us all why we are here and will continue to be tomorrow and beyond.”

The ‘We Are Here For You – #withwoman’ video can be found on the Royal Cornwall Hospitals YouTube channel here:

Added on 5 May 2020, in News - Maternity & Neonatal Services