The Chief Nurse at Epsom and St Helier hospitals (who also happens to be a qualified midwife) went back to the floor last Sunday – as she joined the team in the Birth Centre for a full, eight hour shift.
Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Charlotte Hall, joined the team in the home-from-home, midwife-led Birth Centre at St Helier Hospital, where she paired with midwife Becky Black and helped to provide care to some very soon-to-be-parents who were having their first child.
Charlotte said: “It was an absolute honour to be back on the front line of the maternity unit, working with midwives and support staff as they helped local parents to welcome and bond with their new babies.
“I absolutely love spending shifts with different teams across our hospitals, and I know how privileged I am to be invited by our nurses and midwives to go and work with them. Every week I get offers to join teams, and having already spent a night shift with our porters and a working day in theatres with our surgery teams, I was delighted to go and spend a shift in the Birth Centre at St Helier last Sunday with the lovely midwives.
“It was the hottest day of the year so far, but I was paired up with midwife Becky who was as cool as a cucumber all day, and helped keep the wonderful first time parents chilled and relaxed as we worked our way through labour. It was obvious that the parents were truly appreciative of her skills – when they were scared or worried by the pain and tired, Becky relaxed them and talked them down with her skill and expertise. This truly was midwifery at its best, and I can see why the French call midwives ‘sage-femme’ or wise woman.
“My shift in the Birth Centre was absolutely incredible – the team had some great ideas about what we can improve, and there are things that were raised with me that I know we can change with just a little bit of help. For example, it was a hot day and there’s no ice machine on the unit – I am absolutely determined to do something about that, and would love it if our local communities could help us with the cause. Of course, all our staff were cool, calm and collected despite the heat, but just imagine being in labour and it being 27 degrees inside and out. An ice machine would be an added little luxury that could help make giving birth just that little bit easier (for the dads and partners, too!).
“Although we have three birthing pools in the Birth Centre at St Helier and two at Epsom, we are absolutely desperate to raise funds to install additional pools in our labour wards, where more women will be able to access them. I saw how amazing the birthing pools are in action – the lapping water and James Blunt on the sound system were so relaxing that it almost sent me off to sleep!”
Charlotte’s shift marked a great finale to International Day of the Midwife Day, where midwives across the trust held a cake sale to raise funds for the new birthing pool and took the time to explain why they love being a part of the maternity team.
It also coincided with new figures that show in April, the number of women who had normal births (birth without having an induction, a caesarean or a birth involving forceps) at the hospitals was very high, at 67%. Charlotte said: “This is a fantastic achievement. Normal births are often the safest way to deliver your baby, and if interventions, such as a caesarean section are avoided for healthy women and babies, resources will be freed up for the extra staff, treatments and interventions that are needed when a woman in labour and her baby really need help.”
If you would like to donate funds to the maternity units, please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com and search for Epsom and St Helier. If you would like your donation to go to something specific, please let us know in the comment section and we can ensure the money is ring-fenced for your chosen cause.