By Catherine Williams
We are sisters on a journey
Singing now as one
Remembering the ancient ways
The women and the wisdom
The women and the wisdom
This song was a very apt introduction to the afternoon. A newcomer, I sat in a circle of wise women I have long admired. I was a little overawed. No less when listening to the remarkable Jo Murphy-Lawless talk to us.
Jo is a rarity, a sociology lecturer working with midwifery students. She spoke about the apprenticeships student and newly qualified midwives undertake on placements; the skills they need and the challenges they meet. She described the difference between what they learn at university and what they are actually expected to do. This gap is sometimes called the ‘theory-practice gap’ but Jo defines it as a political crisis. Just as in the whole of maternity care, with supposedly more choice and information for women yet high caesarean rates, fewer birth centres and too few midwives to give appropriate care, this is accentuated for midwifery students in the training they receive.
Jo works with her students to help to give them the skills to critique the system and take it apart so they are aware of the sociological framework they will be working in. You will not be surprised to hear she identifies the problem as lying with the power of authority. Where maternity services are governed and controlled by those without a woman centred midwifery background pressure is applied to midwives to conform to the medical model, and to the system. Midwives who stand up and stand out are often coerced and bullied by the system and individuals until they conform or leave, which is why giving midwives the skills to understand and deal with it is so important.
Jo identified ‘modernity’ as a key concept in this issue. The myth of modernity is breaking down and in particular, the idea of the ‘birth machine’ model of care, which had its roots in the rise of factories and industrialisation. This model is ‘letting down women and midwives’, and the solution is to fight for true midwifery skills.
Jo concluded that midwives are often too discouraged to fight this political crisis on their own, and it shouldn’t be up to the pregnant women, so we must all take up their cause. She urged us all to apply pressure at many different levels, to our local Trusts, to MSLCs, to the government, to MPs, to ensure that the woman centred midwifery model becomes the central turning point of maternity care, so that the gap between model care and practice diminishes. Never a better reason for renewing your AIMS membership!
Listening to Jo was more like taking part in her course as she encouraged discussion. It was a wonderful afternoon. If anyone has thought about getting more involved or coming along to AIMS meetings don’t be put off by the well known names. I was made to feel very welcome and it was very relaxed. Anyway, as Jo explained, pregnant women and midwives need you.
AIMS supports all maternity service users to navigate the system as it exists, and campaigns for a system which truly meets the needs of all. AIMS does not give medical advice, but instead we focus on helping women to find the information that they need to make informed decisions about what is right for them, and support them to have their decisions respected by their health care providers. The AIMS Helpline volunteers will be happy to provide further information and support. Please email email@example.com or ring 0300 365 0663.
AIMS Journal, 2020, Vol 32, No 4 Lorna Tinsley Interview by Rachel Boldero AIMS believes that an effective Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is crucial for a well-funct…Read more
AIMS Journal, 2020, Vol 32, No 4 By Wendy Jones PhD MRPharmS MBE ‘ Scientific, evidence-led information which is very up to date and relevant, and … better informed than…Read more
AIMS Journal, 2020, Vol 32, No 4 The OBS facilitators: Charlotte Gilman, Julie Gallegos, Lisa Mansour and Jayne Joyce (left to right) By Jayne Joyce IBCLC Project Lead Ox…Read more
POSTPONED FROM JUNE 2020 Making a difference past and future The purpose of the day is to celebrate what Birth Activists in general and AIMS in particular have achieved,…Read more
This year’s AGM will be an online meeting, so we plan to keep it to two hours. However, there will be the opportunity to stay, chat and socialise with friends and colleag…Read more
AIMS has written this week to Jeremy Hunt MP, in his role as chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, as a response to the current discussion regarding a so-…Read more
AIMS has submitted comments on the draft NICE Shared decision making Guideline. You can read our comments here The details of the consultation on the draft guidelines can…Read more
AIMS has submitted comments on the draft update of the NICE Neonatal Infection Guideline. You can read our comments here . The details of the draft guidelines can be foun…Read more