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National accolade for Northampton midwives


Representatives of NGH accept the Nursing Times award

Northampton midwives who set up an antenatal group for women and partners needing extra support with pregnancy and childbirth have won a national award that recognises excellence in nursing and midwifery throughout the UK.

The Chit Chat group was established by Northampton General Hospital’s midwives as a way of tailoring antenatal education, parenting advice and peer support to women with additional needs, including learning disabilities or anxiety.

Midwives Emma Fathers, Angela Bithray and Sally Kingston have been awarded the Nursing Times Award in the Enhancing Patient Dignity category in recognition of the group’s success.

"Some members may feel socially excluded or be living in quite vulnerable circumstances."
Named midwife for obstetrics and gynaecology Emma Fathers said: “We felt it was important to set up the group for families who may have additional needs. The idea is to provide help and support with individualised, accessible care so that everyone who uses our service receives the best maternity care possible.

“Some members may feel socially excluded or be living in quite vulnerable circumstances, and the group enables them to have this peer support around them. They meet other mums who can become friends and help each other throughout pregnancy and as their children grow.”

"Determination, insight and intelligence to introduce these innovations"
Jenni Middleton, Editor, Nursing Times, said: “Every year, I am impressed by the fantastic quality improvement projects led by nurses and the impact their work has on the patients, residents and service users they care for.

"My congratulations to all of those who have won our coveted Nursing Times Awards. They deserve the praise of the profession and all of us at Nursing Times not just for putting together award-winning improvements, but having the determination, insight and intelligence to introduce these innovations against a backdrop that is getting more and more challenging. They deserve the recognition the NT Awards gives them and our respect.”

Research shows that some women, those with learning disabilities for example, avoid maternity care often because of lack of confidence, and they are at greater risk of poor outcomes during their pregnancy and the postnatal period. They are also more likely to be vulnerable due to other issues such as mental health concerns or issues with housing, and be reluctant to ask for the help they need.

“Mothers are welcome to bring partners or family members along to the group for support,” said Emma. “We meet every two weeks on labour ward, which itself helps to break down barriers and reduce anxiety as parents become familiar with the hospital environment. They talk about a wide range of subjects from labour and birth to pain relief, how they will know when it’s time to come in, what it will be like and so on.

“As well as maternity issues they may help and support each other with things like applications for bus passes or for jobs. Recently one of the dads got a job for the first time in his life due to confidence that he has gained through attending the group.

“The midwives who run the group can also attend hospital appointments to support the women. It can be quite daunting coming to a big hospital so it’s fantastic for the women to come in and see a familiar and friendly face. Midwives have also attended planned caesareans to support them and it has helped to provide a better experience all round.

“We’ve had some lovely comments about how much more confident the group has made them, about how lovely it is to meet people in similar situations, how nice it is to make friends. The group is challenging to run, it’s time out of a very busy working week, but for us if we have just one comment from a woman about the group making her feel more confident about being a mother – it’s all worthwhile.”

Posted on Thursday 1st December 2016
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