International Day of the Midwife: University of Central Lancashire!

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Call the Midwife Preston style! Mercedes looks good!

The University of Central Lancashire‘s midwifery department really pushed the boat out the raise funds today for the International Day of the Midwife. The chosen charity is the African Midwives Fund 

Midwifery lecturer, Mercedes Perez-Botella looked every bit the part as she rode around the town rallying potential customers on a very old bike, in true Call the Midwife style!

It was a bit of a rush for me this morning to get to Preston, but after collecting Olivia’s home baked ginger biscuits and picking up Anita on route….we arrived heavily laden with cakes and books all ready to go! My daughter Anna is a midwifery lecturer at UCLan and with her colleagues and some student midwives has been planning and working hard to prepare the wares to sell for this important event. Anna’s dear friend, the lovely Carys who works as a midwife at Wythenshawe had made chutney, marmalade and jam, all labelled ‘made by midwives’. Her mum had knitted some toys, made hearts and other things to sell. A midwife from Preston made some very special handmade cards (I bought six!). I sold signed copies of my book Catching Babies, and the profit went to the charity. We also sold wonderfully crafted recipe books, created by an amazing Scottish midwife, Linda McDonald. I met Linda in Troon, where she explained the MUM’s project to me. Basically, Linda has developed three recipe books and the income generated from the sales goes to help develop maternity services in Malawi. Sarah Brown and Davina McCall have written forwards for the books, they are so impressed with Linda’s work.

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Toys by Carys’ Mum, Catching Babies and MUM’s recipe books for sale.

So we had lots to sell, and everyone worked hard to encourage cake buying! £600 was raised on the stall alone in four hours, and there was lots of discussion from the ‘customers’ about birth and health….thus raising the profile of the role of the midwife. A sponsored walk when the stall was emptied has raised more much needed money, and donations are still being taken! Congratulations to everyone for such a massive effort. Your time and energy will be someone’s improved maternity care. You couldn’t ask for more.

Made by Midwives!

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International Day of the Midwife: King’s College London

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Every year on the 5th May many midwives around the world celebrate the International Day of the Midwife (IDM). The initiative was launched formally in 1992 by the International Confederation of Midwives, with an aim to celebrate midwifery and to raise the awareness of the importance of midwives’ work to as many people as possible.

Frances Day Stirk the President of the ICM tells us about the IDM for 2012

I was lucky enough to be invited to King’s College London today to speak to the student midwives at a conference they had organized to celebrate the IDM. I arrived whilst my good friend Denis Walsh was giving one of his renowned inspirational talks, and then Paul and I enjoyed a cuppa with the bright and enthusiastic students who had greeted us so warmly. Mary Stewart, their fabulous midwifery lecturer, watched closely with pride as her student midwife conference organisers (wearing white ribbon sashes) sold deliciously high calorie cakes that they had made to sell, to help raise funds for the White Ribbon Alliance.

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Student midwives with Denis Walsh, and cakes!

As I Tweeted as much as I could, I was delighted not to have missed the talk from Meghan Jackson a young midwife who clearly explained the history and work of the Association of Radical Midwives (hey, she said, I am not a hairy legged hippy!) with great passion. And she described the horrendous plight of the victim/hero Dr. Agnes Gereb. Meghan warned delegates that there could be similar issues for Independent Midwives in the UK if the situation of obtaining indemnity insurance to practise isn’t resolved appropriately.

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Midwife Meghan Jackson highlighting plight of Agnes Gereb

The highlight of the conference for me was the ‘open slots’ session just before lunch, where students were given 5 minutes to talk about a topic of their choice. I sat in absolute awe as individual midwives-to-be made their way to the front and presented a variety of midwifery related ‘snippets’.

Jo got the ball rolling and gave us an international perspective on maternity care through her personal and interesting insight into life for women in South Sudan, where she had previously worked. It’s always grounding for those of us living and working in developed countries to hear the shocking conditions and levels of maternal and infant mortality in the Third World. Much of content of Jo’s talk reflected the injustice and prejudice against women and their lack of basic human rights. Utterly shocking.

There were some delights to follow. We were entertained by a student’s insightful and highly humorous interpretation of ‘spiritual midwifery’. This student was perhaps the best stand up comedian I have ever heard (really!) and the laughing in the audience almost raised the roof. Beautiful poetry written and read by another talented student gave me goose bumps, a personal story of birth in water from 21 years ago brought tears to my eyes, and there was a moving film to music and a slide show depicting the role of the midwife. Finally, a politically charged account of female inequalities (excellently articulated and so true) made me rear up with female pride.   Such emotions! My talk of positive birth and making change happen will hopefully give the students a few tools for their pockets as they work hard to deliver the change needed.

I just heard on the way home from the Capital that the efforts of these passionate smiling student midwives resulted in a donation of £226.20 to the White Ribbon Alliance…..now don’t you think that’s the best thing ever?

Congratulations to you all, and thank you very much indeed for sharing your day with me.

PS tomorrow I am helping my lovely daughter Anna and the midwifery students and lecturers at UCLan in Preston, in their efforts to raise money for the African Midwifery Fund. This organisation helps to improve maternity care in Africa, as part of the IDM celebrations. My wonderful niece Cathy helped me to make lots of biscuits yesterday at White Wickets, in her luxurious kitchen. Watch this space for day two.