Laura Wyatt was voted ‘Mums’ Midwife of The Year’ over at Emma’s Diary, by a mum whose son tragically died during labour in June 2015. Laura was not a bereavement midwife at the time, but provided the parents with the vital support they needed during such an impossible ordeal. Since that summer, Laura went on to provide antenatal care during the mum’s very anxious second pregnancy which thankfully resulted in a happy and healthy rainbow baby. Laura has now been appointed much-needed bereavement midwife at the University Hospital of Wales, and this week, we catch up with her to find out all about her award and what it means.
Congratulations on winning ‘Emma’s Diary Mums’ Midwife of the Year 2017’. How does it feel to be labelled ‘midwife of the year’?
Thank you. It is quite overwhelming but an absolute honour to be labelled midwife of the year. It is extra special because it has come from a nomination by a mum.
Did you always want to be a midwife? What inspired you?
I didn’t always want to become a midwife. I was thinking of becoming a teacher or a paediatric nurse. I became inspired to become a midwife when I spent a 2 weeks placement with a midwife during my nurse training. I was in awe of the mother and midwife relationship. Pregnancy can be a very vulnerable time for some women and therefore a trusting, caring and genuine relationship between the mother and her midwife is vital and can have a huge impact on pregnancy, for birth and overall outcome.
Tell us how being a bereavement midwife differs from a regular midwife; what does your job entail?
The role of a Bereavement midwife is primarily about supporting parents following the devastating loss and intense grief of their baby. It is about listening to the needs of the parents and supporting them in creating valuable and special memories of their time with their baby. It is also supporting in helping to make decisions regarding funeral arrangements, supporting them in their decision making whether they wish to have further investigations such as a postmortem to see whether we can establish why their baby has died. The role also involves training and supporting staff who, may come into contact with parents at any stage of their care in hospital. This helps to ensures that parents will receive sensitive care when the bereavement midwife is not present and empowers other members of staff. The role also involves building working relationships with external bodies such as the registrar of births and deaths, the coroner, local GP practices, funeral directors, crematorium and cemetery managers and Sands It is important that parents are offered support literature such as the SANDS Bereavement pack provided by the charity SANDS.
Statistics show there is a shortage of bereavement midwives here in the UK, why is this, and how does one train to be one? What’s your advice to anyone looking to enter this particular role?
There is no mandatory requirement for a hospital to have a Bereavement midwife in their health Board. It is usually at the discretion of the Head of Midwifery and needs of the unit if this role is needed. You need to be a registered Midwife and on the Nursing and Midwifery Council register otherwise there is no formal qualification to be a Bereavement Midwife. I would recommend doing some training courses specific to Bereavement if anyone has an interest. Third sector charities such as SANDs have training courses that are available to attend around the UK. There are other courses available which are accredited by the Royal college of Midwives and are accessible via i learning on their website, you can also consider some basic counselling skills. There are many books available regarding supporting bereaved parents. We can also learn by listening to the needs of the bereaved parents.
There has been a shocking story in the soaps recently with Coronation Street’s Michelle losing her baby at 23 weeks . As a mum myself I found this very hard to watch. It has raised the ongoing issue that the birth of babies born before 24 weeks are not registered, which can be an enormous cause of distress for the parents. What are your thoughts on this?
This storyline was extremely well portrayed and raised a lot of questions around the issue. I don’t feel that it is my place to make a comment, but I am aware that it can cause distress for parents. I see my role to support parents in the best possible way following the loss of their baby. We offer printed certificates which are provided in our memory boxes or are accessible from baby loss charities.
What do you do to unwind after a difficult day at work?
My unwind time is to spend it with my family. My boys keep me busy with their various activities but it is a great way to relax and socialise with other parents. I enjoy eating out and watch the occasional episode of Emmerdale!! Sometimes I squeeze in a little bit of exercise such as walking.
What are your top tips for new mums?
My top tip is to take time out for themselves and their baby. Learn to say no to visitors and the cleaning can also wait!! Accept help when offered.
What are your five recommendations for must-have products for a newborn?
Decide on method of feeding, Nappies, cotton wool, clothes and a moses basket/cot
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Equally dedicated to my family and work!!