THE JOURNEY through pregnancy is one that can cause stress and anxiety but nurses in the city are on a mission to make sure there is a friendly and supportive face every step of the way.
A team of 10 midwives at Portsmouth Maternity Centre have come together to form Athena, a pilot scheme with a team to provide care throughout the whole pregnancy journey, from antenatal care to postnatal care, as well as having a midwife on call during the day and night to provide labour care.
Community midwife Sarah Finch said: ‘Having a midwife you recognise and who you have a trusting relationship with also means you are more likely to tell them if you have low mood or problems with your mental health after having your baby.
‘I am really excited to be involved in this new pilot and working in a new way. The team is working in a more flexible model of care to enable women to have their birth choices supported and we are hoping to increase the number of births within the Portsmouth Maternity Centre and also local home births.’
Evidence shows that women who have a midwife that they know in labour are less likely to need interventions during their pregnancy and birth and are more likely to be satisfied with their care.
The team will now work on-call shifts throughout the week incorporated in their regular early and late shift patterns.
Sarah added: ‘The midwives in this team can build relationships with the women and give support and advice, sharing wisdom around pregnancy, labour and birth.
‘This in turn means the women have power over their experience and choices. It is a different way for us to work as we are doing on-call shifts but I am really looking forward to working in this new way.’
The initiative, at the centre on St Mary’s Community Healthcare Campus in Milton Road, will look to provide care for approximately 350 women a year.
Team leader Gill Allen said: ‘I am extremely proud of how the team have embraced this new way of working in order to provide continuity and consistency for women throughout their pregnancy journey.
‘Every woman will have a named midwife who will co-ordinate her care, she will be given the opportunity during her pregnancy to meet the rest of the team so that at the time of the birth she will see a familiar face.’
The team will also be offering ‘meet and greet sessions’, home birth groups, personalised centre tours and coffee mornings.
Gill added: ‘The extra groups will give new mums the chance to have a chat with us and get more information about their birth options. Pregnancy can also be quite isolating so it gives the women a chance to chat to each other about what they are going through.’
Midwife Anne Pearson has already seen the benefits of continuity in care.
She said: ‘Back in February a woman who I had been looking after came in to the centre in labour and I stayed past my shift throughout her birth and got to meet her baby.
‘For her it was a relief to have a friendly face there to help and for me it was job satisfaction to see her through her the whole journey.’
The pilot is part of a wider NHS Better Births initiative to improve maternity care.
Nikki Sanson, who has been a midwife for four years, added: ‘I wanted to work in this team because of Gill and she has been so supportive of everyone and she really puts the women at the centre of our care.’
The midwifery team also wanted to thank Sarah Finch for her enthusiasm in pushing the project forward.