Midwives who lead

Suzanne Cunningham, consultant midwife

I was proud to become one of the first consultant midwives in the country back in 2000, along with my colleague Jane Rogers. It was a completely new role for the NHS and it gave us the unique opportunity to shape the position; defining what it would mean for the mums, midwives and obstetricians that we work with.

As well as participating in a number of national projects, Jane and I focus on bringing evidence based research into the clinical environment. That way we can ensure that the midwives are delivering the very best care for mothers and babies, and that UHS remains at the cutting edge of maternity care.

We know, for example, that supporting women in midwife led environment during labour improves the number of normal births - which is why we offer mums the choice of both the New Forest and Broadlands Birth Centres. Similarly we know that providing continuity through a social model of midwifery by our case-loading teams for particularly vulnerable women provides the best start for their families.

The consultant midwife role gives midwives the opportunity for career progression whilst allowing them to stay directly involved in clinical practice. We’ve worked with the Wessex Deanery to develop a tailored consultant midwife training course. We also encourage take up of our personalised development programme for midwives who wish to explore other areas of practice. This offers shadowing opportunities, amongst other things, to help each midwife achieve the career they want.

We give our midwives a level of autonomy not often found. For example, they continue to support women to have a vaginal birth after caesarean rather than the mums automatically going under the care of an obstetrician. In fact, it’s the genuine respect and interaction between the midwives and obstetricians that really stands out as one of the unique aspects of working at UHS. We’re a team. We’re all have a unique and equal part to play. And we all support one another. That’s not something you find everywhere.

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