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22 March 2019

New team of community midwives helping women in Bristol have Better Births


From 25th March 2019, women living in the Hartcliffe and Withywood areas of Bristol will have the opportunity to take part in a trial scheme which would see them having a named midwife throughout their pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.

The team from St Michael's Hospital will be one of the first in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire region to pilot this national maternity 'continuity of carer' programme.

Based on the 2016 National Maternity Review, 'Better Births', this way of providing care improves the safety and health outcomes for women and their babies by fostering trusting relationships.

According to the review, women who have midwife-led continuity of care are seven times more likely to be attended at birth by a midwife they know, are 16% less likely to lose their baby and 24% less likely to experience pre-term birth.

Rebecca Morgan, community and midwifery-led unit matron at St Michael's Hospital, said: "This way of working helps ensure that the care women receive is based on a relationship of mutual trust and respect, in line with women's decisions about their care.

"Our new team, called The Birch Tree Midwives, will be contacting women identified at the antenatal booking service, to explain the benefits and limitations of this pilot and offer them the opportunity to opt in or out.

"That woman will then have a named midwife, who themselves will have a 'buddy' to cover their caseload if they're on leave. Women will have a chance to meet all 10 of The Birch Tree Midwives during coffee mornings, antenatal education classes and personalised hospital tours.

"There will also be a maternity support worker, who will be their link during the postnatal period and will provide that care in the home and in postnatal clinics, as well as supporting the midwives with antenatal clinics.

"Women on the pilot will also have access to a regular consultant-led community clinic, which will help continue their care and provide a responsive maternity service for women in the Hartcliffe and Withywood areas."

Lucy Baker, a newly qualified midwife who will be part of the Birch Tree Midwives team, added:

"Continuity is something I'm really passionate about; I spent a lot of my training focussing on women-centred care.

"It's really exciting for us to establish this new way of working in Bristol, which will provide women with safe care and a great start to family life."

This will be a year-long pilot, with a view to hopefully offering this service to all women who chose to give birth at St Michael's Hospital in the future.