I will always remember the midwife who diligently guided me through my pregnancy, mindful of the pitfalls and tribulations I would encounter on my way. When I developed pre eclampsia in the later stages of pregnancy and my husband (a serving soldier at the time) was away filling the gaps created by the ambulance strike in 1990, I will always remember the care and consideration of my doctors in taking good care of me in his absence. When she arrived safely in the August I don’t think I appreciated how lucky I was to hold my healthy baby girl.
A beautiful bouncing baby is what we all expect these days when we become pregnant. We live in a world where people assume all will be ok. Of course happy healthy mothers and babies is why we specialise in professions such as Midwifery and Obstetrics. We know the pitfalls, we know the associated problems with pregnancy and childbirth, and we all know it’s only normal after the event.
Pregnancy and childbirth are everyday physiological events, but in today’s world where not all of us are in the peak of physical health and wellbeing, not everyone is ready for the trials of pregnancy.
Helping women and the wider community understand the need for pre-conceptual preparations for pregnancy is something we are all striving to create but worried we will never quite achieve. The reality is that women arrive pregnant with a number of health and social issues that we need to support and manage together in pregnancy.
Not all pregnancies make it to full term. Understanding and, more importantly, supporting women to understand some of the factors that could ensure a healthy safer pregnancy are key in addressing awareness of known risk factors to fetal loss.
There have been number of publications from the Welsh Government such as the Welsh Government Maternity Strategy Report from the Quality and Safety Sub-Group June 2013 and A Maternity Network for Wales July 2013, raising the importance for Wales in addressing the crushing effects of losing a baby. The Maternity Network Wales have been driving a collective response to addressing these issues to ensure a collective shared responsibility between health professionals, the women and their families.
We need to work with women and the wider community to raise awareness about the loss of a baby and why some of the choices we make as women may affect the outcome of a pregnancy. Raising awareness and having difficult conversations with women is the only way that we can affect and hope to reduce the number of babies lost every year. We are all using the GAP/GROW package to monitor the growth of babies. We must be honest with women about their personal health factors and supporting them gently to understand their own personal risks.
So how are we going to do this?
The Maternity Network, in collaboration with 1000 Lives Improvement are launching a “National Safer Pregnancy” campaign on the 28 March 2017 to introduce a bundle of care including resources for women and health professionals that will do what it says on the tin “raise awareness” and bring to the public arena health choices and factors influencing safer pregnancy.
We have a collective responsibility in ensuring that women and professionals have the right platform to address issues that affect healthy pregnancies. As National Project lead for the Safer Pregnancy campaign, I feel a great sense of pride in the work and input by the Health Boards and supporting partners in creating a bundle of care to share with the wider community. And after two years of collaborative work we are ready to share and work with our families as equal partners in taking responsibility for the protection of our babies.
If you have any concerns during your pregnancy speak to your midwife immediately. For more information on what you can do during pregnancy read the “Your pregnancy and baby guide”