#ZeroSeperation by Ali Brindle

I (Sheena) was recently speaking to a head of midwifery from a local maternity unit, and she happened to mention ‘an inspirational student midwife’ who was positively influencing practice. It was Ali, Ali Brindle – featured in this post. I asked Ali if she would tell me what she was doing to receive such praise, so that we could SHINE THE LIGHT ON her, quite rightly! Thank you Ali – your passion, dedication and humanity really makes a difference. I am so so proud of what you are doing in Lancashire, that will hopefully influence the world. I hope we can help you! Sheena and Anna 

Alison Brindle

Ali told us:

One of the unique things about being a student midwife, is the ability to view practice from an outside perspective. We can question ‘why?’ and ‘how come?’ with explorative expression and the innocence of the inquisitive mind. It is this which gives my position of being the student a sense of power, as my questioning of why things are done a certain way is not seen as being confrontational or undermining or to anyone.

During my first year as a student midwife, the questioning of things I saw or witnessed usually stayed within my mind, as having the courage to speak up was not something I felt comfortable with. However, going through second year, I found the courage to question and the passion to want to find better ways to improve maternity services for women, babies and families.

Earlier this year, while undertaking a placement on delivery suite I was caring for a woman in labour. Everything was fine except she spiked a temperature over 38 degrees which initiated the septic pathway for her and her baby. Nothing unusual, as I have cared for lots of women and babies where this was needed, both on delivery suite and on the postnatal ward. As usual, the doctor was called to come and cannulate the woman for IV antibiotics, and the neonatal doctors alerted to prepare for cannulation of the baby. Having done this so many times without question, it was the woman’s angst at having her newborn removed from her for this which sparked my inquisitive mind. It is usually normal practice within many maternity services to take babies to the neonatal unit (NNU) for the cannulation procedure, and administration of the first dose of antibiotics, which can take anything up to 2 hours. It was at this moment that I questioned why the cannulation of the baby couldn’t be done in the room with mum. Suddenly, the practice of separating women and babies so soon after birth hit me, and remembering all the times I had taken babies from women on the postnatal ward to NNU for the same reason made me feel very uncomfortable. I began to question the whole reasoning behind why we were separating babies in this way, and not only that, I decided to do a little research into the damage caused, if any, as a result of this practice. I soon discovered the true nature of the potential harm this seemingly innocent practice could have on both mum and baby, not to mention the damaging effect it could have on the chances of establishing breastfeeding. After doing a little background reading and research, I made it my mission to raise awareness of the harm caused by this separation and to help promote togetherness of all mums and babies where ever possible.

After some thought, I could not see any reason why equipment could be set up on both the delivery suite and postnatal ward to enable neonatal cannulation to take place with mum, or at the very least facilitate the choice for mum and family to stay together during this procedure, and while I was familiar with the work of Dr Nils Bergman and the benefits of kangaroo care for premature babies, it was his work on zero separation of mums and premature babies which inspired me to campaign for the zero separation of mums and babies in my hospital.  I was motivated by the realisation of the potential damage caused both physically and psychologically from the practice of separation and short term NNU admission.

#ZeroSeparation is the Twitter campaign I am using to champion changes in practice where avoidable NNU admissions take place which can be prevented with interventions and promote togetherness of mums and babies in the postnatal period. The campaign which first started with the championing #ZeroSeparation for neonatal cannulation is now being promoted at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust (LTHT). I designed posters to highlight guidelines and recommendations to promote #ZeroSeparation and there is currently a display championing this on the delivery suite. I was recently excited and pleased to see the Chief Executive of the Trust, Karen Partington, with the display on a recent visit to the unit.

CEO Karen Partington

This work has now inspired me to champion and campaign for #ZeroSeparation for other situations. I am now working on expanding my campaign to include other avoidable situations where mums and babies are separated such as for treatment and prevention of transient hypoglycaemia of the newborn, especially in women with diabetes or other conditions where there is a higher risk neonatal hypoglycaemia.
Ali Brindle is a student midwife at the University of Central Lancashire.

Ali’s email address: ABrindle4@uclan.ac.uk

Twitter handle: @AlisonBrindle 

New book! Spirituality and Childbirth: Meaning and care at the start of life

By Susan Crowther and Jenny Hall

We are delighted to be sharing with you our edited book about spirituality in and around the start of life. The chapters highlight aspects of birth we often take for granted, qualities often ignored or left silenced and questions the art of birth and the meanings ascribed. The voices you hear in this book are from international practitioners, educators and researchers as well as those of women and those who care for them and are present at the birth of a new life. Spirituality means different things to different people yet what consistently is shown is that spirituality is concerned with meaning and purpose and each chapter draws our attention to new dimensions of understanding of what it means to be human in and around childbirth. The premise of our work is that spirituality at this stage of a life span has been ignored for too long. Though discussed and raised as significant and important at the end of life, at the start it has been hidden. We are honoured that Lesley Page has written the forward for the book and recognises the significance of the content. There are many contexts that are explored throughout the chapters, ranging from straightforward births to those that are complex or challenging; from the mother to the practitioners; to the unborn and born baby. This book raises many questions and suggests some practical suggestions to take this forward. We hope that this book will provoke discussion and debate over a topic that has long been subdued. We welcome you on this journey with us and look forward to engaging further.

The book is launched 19th September 2017 and is now on Amazon:

Dr Susan Crowther

         Dr Jenny Hall

Influencing childbirth in Saudi Arabia: Roa Altaweli

Today we want to Shine the Light on Dr Roa Altaweli – an inspirational midwife from Saudi Arabia. Although Roa is well  known to many, we wanted to tell the rest of the world about her amazing career, her creativity and her leadership. If you want to be inspired….then read on!
‘I love being a midwife and would like others to love this profession as much as I do’.

Dr Roa Altaweli is the first midwife from Saudi Arabia to obtain a PhD. Roa was born in Jeddah, she is a registered nurse and midwife, and has worked as a midwife at National Guard Hospital in Jeddah and as a teaching assistant at Dar Al Hekma University.

Roa decided to pursue a academic career and obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Practice of Midwifery from King’s College London and then a Masters and PhD in Midwifery at City University, London.

Roa now works as a Clinical Director of Nursing at East Jeddah Hospital, Saudi Arabia. She is. a founding Board Member and Vice-Chairperson of the Saudi Midwifery Group and a member of a Saudi Ministry of Health initiative called the Optimizing Maternal Mortality and Healthcare Advisory Team.

I hope that midwifery education in Saudi Arabia can be as strong as in the UK

Roa says. “I love being a midwife and would like others to love this profession as much as I do. My aim is to empower women to have natural childbirth in Saudi Arabia and help in the development of direct-entry midwifery courses that prepare competent, qualified midwives.”

And Roa certainly takes ’empowering women’ seriously, by keeping connected to women and childbirth.

‘Due to the limited and trusted  Arabic resources about natural childbirth I created ‘Rahmah Birth’  in April 2016 to increase the awareness of natural birth, for women in Saudi Arabia and around the world.  Rahmah (my mother’s name who passed away January 2014) means Mercy in English. My mother always believed in natural childbirth and gave birth at home to my older brother Khalid who passed away in November, 2016. I dedicate this work to her and my brother.
Instagram @rahmah.birth
twitter @rahmahbirth
facebook page rahmahbirth

We are amazed that Roa has any spare time – but she does, and then she likes to paint. Her work is beautiful – and she’s allowed us to share a few of her masterpieces with you!


Roa’s 5 Top Tips for midwives considering studying for a PhD

1. Love midwifery, and keep practising as a midwife

2.  Participate in teaching students, women and families.

3. Update your self with evidence based article reading

4. Communicate with other midwives

5. Remember there’ll be hard times. You’ll need courage and resilience to continue!

A family affair – the story so far!

‘I saw your Dad this morning walking William in his pram‘ – a regular call to Anna, as she skids into school to collect 4 year old Betsy. It seems much of the Ribble Valley spots this Grandad, as he treads the country lanes with the boy, And William is often in the arms of his Daddy too – as Anna and I work and plan for the exciting times ahead. My, we need all the help we can get!  It’s been a few weeks since we launched our site, and the beginning of our journey working together as a mother-daughter midwife team. Bringing our experience and knowledge together has been a joy, lots of fun, and the whole family has rallied round to help with childcare, chauffeuring, and cooking! It’s all coming together, and we’re delighted.

Helping others to shine…

In short, our commitment and drive is to optimise maternity care so that mothers and babies have the best start to family life. We feel we can do this by supporting those who serve childbearing women, in their daily work. We want to be a conduit to help future and current midwives to shine, to succeed in their work and careers – to fulfil dreams, whatever they may be.  As midwives we’ve both had enormous opportunities to develop, and we will always be thankful for that. We remember vividly those who guided and inspired us. We have also experienced difficult times, and we equally remember individuals who made our hearts sink. We have learnt from both experiences, and these are shaping our future plans.

In the meantime, we are keen to spotlight individuals who are trying to make a difference, or who have a story to tell, to help others. Check out our previous blog posts for ‘Shining the light on’ and ‘In conversation with’ features, and if you feel you’ve want to share your work or ideas, please get in touch, we would LOVE to hear from you…..


And Anna’s #SundaySummaries have been a HUGE success. Hmmmm…..so you may be wondering what all the fuss is about, and here’s an explanation. As busy mother and daughter midwives, we’ve often been left in the dark when it comes to keeping up to date at work, on general matters relating to maternity care and midwifery. As the editor of The Practising Midwife, Anna keeps reasonably well-informed on current national and international issues, so she decided to synthesise relevant topics into snappy,, bite-sized sections, and deliver them to all subscribers of this website.

The response has been overwhelming.

‘Congrats to you both. Another very current and interesting summary update of events. Love the format that you use, current info delivered in simple yet informative format, much easier to read than a journal, and very up to date…….’

‘I just love the layout and content of your page. All I need now is a few hours to read through it all. Well done’

‘Needed to message you this week as I’ve been working nights and feel like I have been away from news and updates that I usually read . The adjustment of the body clock and finding the time to even look things up even on my beloved Twitter has escaped me this week. The opportunity to see all of the reports means I’m back in the loop!.  I’m back to nights tonight and I’m planning to tell everyone about this great resource…’

Over the summer, we’ll be sharing some more exciting news with you. We’re BURSTING to tell you! We’ve been collaborating with student midwives, midwives, doulas, obstetricians, leaders and many more – so stay with us if you can!

Have you signed up?

We’d love to see you on Facebook too!



A Midwife in My Pocket!

We do like to celebrate midwife entrepreneurs. When Emma Cook got in touch to say she’d written a book, a guide for parents, we jumped at the chance to read it – and to ‘Shine the Light on’ Emma!

Emma Cook, Midwife

Emma qualified as a midwife in 1999, and has worked the majority of her career in the community, being privileged, she says, to attend many home births.   In 2014, Emma won a national award for her ability to mentor student midwives (Congratulations Emma!) She has a thirteen-year-old son who features heavily in her book….

A Midwife in My Pocket: Midwife’s Heart-Warming New Book Guides Parents through Pregnancy, Birth and “New Baby” Life

This book is a 100% practical, 100% honest guide to the entire process of pregnancy and being a new parent. Based on my own experiences of motherhood, as well as my 15+ years as a midwife, the guide will help any parent prepare for the most amazing journey of their life.

Emma said:

‘After having a child of my own and meeting thousands of parents as a professional midwife, I was well aware that pregnancy and parenthood is fraught with many confusing questions, unknowns and anxieties. However I have learnt that information is power; and I try to offer reassuring words, allowing parents to settle back into their role and thrive with their new baby. I’ve been wanting to write a book for many years, particularly after giving birth to my own son and experiencing the struggles first-hand. My midwifery work is so rewarding, and I’m incredibly proud to now be sharing what I’ve learned with others.

I have written the book in such a way that I hope readers feel that I am chatting to them, addressing the subjects that pop into their minds between their visits to and from their own midwife. It is full of practical advice that readers can access whenever they want to. The chapters cover from the earliest part of  pregnancy, through to birth, feeding, settling and enjoying their new baby.  There are insights into how I felt during my pregnancy, and in the first few weeks with my new baby…. even midwives can feel vulnerable!It feels like a dream to actually have it published, and the response from colleagues and women has been really positive!’

Reviewers have said the book is:

‘Written with true warmth and dignity and there really is nothing else on the market quite like my book’.

‘This is a comprehensive and truly down-to-earth guide that walks parents through the entire process of pregnancy, birth and infant care’.

‘This book is like my pregnancy bible at the moment! There is no preaching like some pregnancy books, and doesn’t weigh you down with medical jargon! So well written, and easy to read! Thank you for making my pregnancy a whole lot easier to understand!!!!!’

Every day I meet anxious mothers whose babies are not breastfeeding properly, and they become riddled with worry. After explaining that what’s happening is completely normal, the resulting relief is immense.

I would like pregnant and new mothers (and fathers/partners) to use this book as their ‘best friend’, to read it, dip in and out of it, but most of all use it to guide them on their incredible journey.

Note from us:

Thank you Emma, for sharing a little about your fabulous book with us…we are delighted that it is so popular, and obviously a success!

We love your book. We especially like the fact that the information is to the point, not prescriptive, and very insightful. The ‘did you know’ facts and ‘top-tips’ are so useful, easy to digest and clear. It’s no wonder there’s been so many rave reviews. There are many excellent books and mobile apps (and some not so good!) for mothers, fathers and parents on the market right now, and this books is up there with the best. Congratulations Em, on using your knowledge and personal experience to help others, keep on going! Your work is greatly appreciated.

The book can be purchased here, and Emma can be reached via Twitter @Emthemidwife  and on A Midwife in My Pocket on Facebook!