Kerry is one of our Maternity Patient Partners. She volunteers with Healthwatch Essex to ensure that the voice of the people using maternity services is heard and used to inform future changes. In her blog below, she describes her experiences and how she uses them to improve services for others.
I have two children, a 6-year-old girl and an almost 2-year-old boy. Both my babies were born at Broomfield Hospital, but their births were quite difference experiences. My daughter’s birth was long and slow; I had a lot of drugs and an epidural that didn’t work properly. It wasn’t traumatic or upsetting but I knew that I wanted my second labour and birth experience to be different.
When I was pregnant with my son, I took a hypnobirthing course and I knew a lot more about the labour and birth process. I went on to have a hypnobirth in the hospital which was an interesting experience. I found that the hypnobirthing process and the hospital environment didn’t mix very well (in my case, anyway), particularly if you are considered ‘high risk’. My experience wasn’t awful but there were some things that should have been better. In the weeks after leaving hospital, I wished I was able to give them some feedback!
When I heard about the work that Healthwatch are doing to help improve the NHS maternity services, I jumped at the chance to volunteer and share my knowledge and experience with them. It has been a very interesting project to work on and I am glad to have had the opportunity to help shape the maternity services in Essex so they can continue to provide the best care for expectant mums, their babies and the families.
I am so grateful to the NHS, we would be lost without the amazing midwives, nurses, doctors and support staff that care for us. As with any organisation, there is always room for improvement, and I am pleased to see that there are partnerships, such as with Healthwatch, dedicated to this.
The midwives I have been in contact with during this project have all been very keen to hear our stories and listen to our experiences to know how to best care for future mums and their babies. I have really enjoyed the work we have done and I’m proud to see our feedback being taken on board and changes being made. Possibly our biggest achievement so far has been our involvement in the creation of a personal care plan that will be implemented across all three trusts in Essex to ensure that mothers are getting the unique care that they each deserve right from their very first antenatal appointment. I am also particularly glad to have had some input into the midwifery curriculum updates at Anglia Ruskin University, because the best way to make lasting changes is right at the beginning or the process, during midwives’ training.
There are a few other things in the pipeline and I’m excited to see what else we can achieve!