The University of Bradford Midwifery Society was established in 2014 and during its first year, Kate Redmond-Mortimer, Gemma Sykes and Abbie Milnes drove the society forward, gaining awards from the RCM and Bradford University in recognition of their hard work, inspiring study days and charity fundraising.
The second year, headed by Claire Welford and Kelly Cunliffe, also provided insightful study days including a CTG masterclass and a homebirth conference – again, providing a platform for respected speakers and students to network and share experiences.
Our task this year was to maintain this momentum and continue to organise thought-provoking events whilst promoting the university and the society; keeping members and student midwives at the forefront of our planning.
In October and November, the Society delivered presentations and attended careers fairs at a number of colleges including York College and Bradford Academy. Our stand attracted both male and female attention with ages ranging from 11-16 years. Tutors who felt they may have missed their true vocation also took the opportunity to find out more about what Bradford Midwifery Studies had to offer – it’s never too late! Students were encouraged to ask questions relating to the role of a midwife, what an ‘average’ day may entail, pay bands and whether we enjoy what we do – no question was a silly question and the students particularly enjoyed the interactive midwifery paraphernalia we had on display. We very much hope that young minds were inspired to consider midwifery as a career as a result.
Our next event was a Physiological Breech Birth study day with Shawn Walker. Shawn is a midwife who researches skills to support women whose babies present breech in childbirth, and is currently working clinically while writing up her PhD research on competency and expertise in upright breech birth. Shawn has provided bespoke training nationally and internationally about skills to support vaginal breech births and we were delighted to welcome her to Bradford. The day was very well attended by student midwives and NQM’s, all of whom gained a wealth of knowledge with the aid of practical demonstrations, about the normal mechanisms of breech birth which could be applied to their practice in the future.
During February, we hosted our annual conference for 400 delegates, in partnership with Chris Binnie and Our Angels Charity and Support Network. Chris came to the attention of the committee through social media, after he had made it clear that Our Angels intended to work with student midwives in the North of England in the future, to fund and deliver specific bereavement training.
Our goal was to open the dialogue surrounding baby loss and help to equip students and professionals alike with the skills necessary to provide effective and sensitive bereavement support to women, partners and their families following the death of a baby.
This can mean all the difference to the emotional well-being of the parents and the memories they make in such a short and precious time. Getting bereavement support right the FIRST time under the guidance of a mentor, is something the Society and Our Angels believes is crucial in order to help student midwives develop and progress as compassionate practitioners.
Amongst others, we had the pleasure of welcoming some of the country’s leading professionals in the field to the University of Bradford including Alex Heazell, clinical director at Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre, Jacque Gerrard, Director of the Royal College of Midwives and Julia Walker-Brown, Maternity Policy & Strategy Manager for NHS England; to deliver their unique insight, as well as hearing brave and inspiring personal accounts and experiences of baby loss and bereavement support from Chris Binnie, Heidi Eldridge – CEO of MAMA Academy, David Monteith and Kirsty Nguyen, followed by a Q&A session.
The feedback from the day was incredibly positive. Student midwives felt more prepared and less fearful to deliver effective and compassionate support to bereaved families. The charity stands on display in the foyer have also seen a rise in demand for their services since the conference, in particular, Remember My Baby; a not for profit organisation which offers the gift of baby remembrance photography to parents experiencing the loss of their baby before, during or shortly after birth. Several trusts in the UK have since been in contact to request their services.
Since the conference, we have been thrilled to learn that the University of Bradford Society has attained the prestigious Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement; an award to recognise those students and staff within the University who have contributed to university life across a number of areas: Excellence; Internationalisation; Equality & Diversity; and Sustainability.
The University of Bradford also won ‘Educational Event of the Year’ at the University’s Student Union Awards.
Lastly but by no means least, Bradford Midwifery Society has been nominated for a MAMA Award at the MAMA Conference 2017 for ‘Service of the Year’ and those shortlisted will be announced at the end of March. Just to be nominated is a huge achievement for Bradford Midwifery Society, its members; and for all University Midwifery Societies as significant, influential resources across the country.
We are incredibly proud of the organisation, quality and content of the Babyloss conference, the pinnacle of which has been to learn that the information supplied has not only positively influenced midwives’ practice, but has encouraged many students to realise that they too, can have an important role to play and not to be fearful. As student midwives ourselves, we have also taken away many invaluable experiences from our conference, its esteemed speakers and incredible parents; skills that we will call upon for many years to come.
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