A team of midwives – known as London’s ‘Neighbourhood Midwives’ – are shaping the future of maternity services by offering expectant mums greater continuity throughout their pregnancy, labour and postnatal care.
London’s ‘Neighbourhood Midwives’ is a trailblazing approach which sees 80 per cent of women give birth with a midwife they know and who knows about their individual care needs and wishes, compared to 12 per cent of women receiving continuity nationally.
NHS England has committed to ensure that mums-to-be will have a named midwife and continuity of care throughout their pregnancy rather than see a different midwife at every appointment. Neighbourhood Midwives from Waltham Forest, North East London apply the ‘continuity of carer’ approach for women in their care.
One year on the pilot is already demonstrating better outcomes and experience for women and their babies.
Women having their first or second baby have experienced fewer interventions during birth with all new mums taking up breastfeeding which has known health benefits for a mother and her baby. Two-thirds of women were still breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks.
Emiko, a mother who gave birth with Neighbourhood Midwives, said: “It really makes such a difference getting to know the person who will assist you during what is a very personal experience.
“I could not have asked for a more perfect birth for my daughter. It was very calm, I had everything exactly how I wanted it. At no point did I feel intruded upon whilst in the zone. My midwife Rebecca was a massive support, quietly there if I needed her, and providing gentle encouragement.”
The pilot was commissioned by Waltham Forest CCG, an NHS England Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneer, in 2016 to run a two year trial to increase choice and continuity for women.
After demonstrating what can be achieved, evidence and best practice from the trailblazing pilot has helped develop the national blueprint to support all maternity services roll-out continuity of care giving every family in the country the very best start in life.
Laura, a midwife working on the scheme said:
“Working in the Neighbourhood Midwives model is a way of life. It’s nice to visit women at their homes, in their comfort zone, especially during the early stages of labour where you can pop in and out, allowing them privacy with the knowledge you can come back when they need you.
“You manage your own time and your own work load. You have to be aware of your capabilities and limitations, which is easier when you have your own workload. It can sometimes be challenging balancing work and your home life, you have to be quite organised but flexible. However, it is overall more rewarding knowing the women so well.”