Charlotte Williamson looks at the 90s and the article that she felt most defined AIMS
Twenty years ago, Nancy Stewart wrote that the aims of AIMS were to provide information and support for individual women and to try to influence the system. Then, as now, AIMS provided information and inspiration through the Journal's articles, reviews of books, reports on what is happening, critiques of research, analyses of official policies and pronouncements, and women's vivid accounts of good and bad maternity care, as they judged it.
Then, as now, AIMS equipped women to think about and to act in the interests of their babies, themselves and their families, as they define those interests. (In 1965, alerted by AIMS, I asked to have my husband present at the birth of our baby and was the first woman who wasn't a doctor's wife to succeed, so letting in all other non-doctors' wives.) Then, as now, AIMS equipped women to sit on local and national professional, ethics, advisory and governance bodies. Without that inspiration and information, the background support that we take for granted, we would be ill-equipped to take part in discussions and debates about maternity care.
These personal and political activities are connected to each other. It is what women tell AIMS about their experiences of maternity care, linked to AIMS' members' knowledge and experience, that makes AIMS an effective patient organisation. An effective organisation and its voice are ever more necessary as obstetric and midwifery practice change in ways that should sometimes be challenged, sometimes supported by us; as some midwives seem unable to distinguish between interventionist and non-interventionist childbirth; as financial constraints increase; and as other interest groups and interests become more numerous and sometimes more oppressive.
AIMS' strength lies in its members' passion and in the expertise they build up. AIMS benefits from a mix of long-term members' dedication and short-term members' freshness of approach. (Some voluntary organisations limit members' terms, so fail to build up expertise and a coherent set of beliefs and objectives. Others allow a few long-serving members to dominate the organisation.) AIMS also probably benefits from its lack of paid staff. Paid staff have their careers to think about and necessarily have different interests from those of the voluntary members. Some staff may be less keen than volunteers to rock the boat. Many organisations that started out as radical challengers to the status quo fade into conformity with it, as they appoint professional staff, paid to do what volunteers did from moral conviction. AIMS also benefits by refusing to ask for money from the government or drug companies. Nothing can harm a voluntary organisation's reputation more than accepting money from suspect sources, however hard it is to work without adequate funds.
In avoiding these traps, AIMS has remained the same radical organisation that it started from, tackling new issues and persevering with old ones, undeterred by disappointment and opposition. Nancy Stewart's definition of the aims of AIMS is as true today as it was when she wrote it. We have not yet achieved those aims: our work is as important as ever.
Complete list of book reviews on the AIMS website Trust your Body, Trust your Baby: How learning to listen changes everything Why Mothers' Medication Matters Trust your B…Read more
AIMS Journal, Vol 29, No 4 By Jo Dagustun Wow – what another great conference put on by the team at Doula UK! I was keen to get to this annual conference again, having be…Read more
AIMS Journal, 2017, Vol 29 No 4 Nicola Lawson shares her knowledge on carrying one - two - three babies! The idea of transporting two babies at once can be daunting, and…Read more
To register your interest please email email@example.com or keep an eye on our website https://www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/mbrrace-uk/bookings . Earlybird bookings will open…Read more
17–21 October 2018 Further DetailsRead more
AIMS AGM 2018 All members welcome! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend to help us to judge numbers, or if you wish to send apologies 10 for 10.30 sta…Read more
AIMS is delighted that the Government has recognised the importance to the safety of women and babies of the continuity of carer model of midwifery. Having a midwife that…Read more
Dr. Ágnes Geréb is a Hungarian obstetrician and midwife who has been under house arrest following her support for women outside of the obstetric system. March 2018: ENCA…Read more
AIMS submitted our response to this consultation on the 23 January 2018. A number of regulators, including the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Professional Standards A…Read more