I’ve done a fair bit of speaking abut Grace since she died and my biggest audience was 6000 people in Denmark, but as we sat munching on sandwiches and debating the spiciness of the samosas (bless you Heidi) there was something playing on my mind.
It took a while to click, but as I sat there, wondering what the collective noun for a group of midwives were ( google has shown that the good money is on a deliverance of midwifes with an expectation of midwives as a close runner up) I was struck by the long long line of people coming in to lunch. The large majority were midwives and they just kept on coming. Midwife after midwife, Over 350 of them.
There it was! When I spoke in Denmark it was to a group of diverse practitioners from all walks of life, come together to tackle issues pertinent to girls and women from 74 different countries. But this , this was the largest gathering of birth professionals I had ever seen.
As the realisation slowly spread I was taken aback at what this Conference was achieving. In the afternoon Cheryl Titherly from SANDS would touch on the statistics surrounding bereavement training and it’s a truly pathetic figure; So the fact that all these midwifes giving up their free time to learn and grow as practitioners and people began to fill me with awe.
I had missed the director of the Royal College of Midwifes, Jacque Gerrad talking about the importance of Bereavement Care, I had missed Julie Key talking about the excellent bereavement midwifery service provided in Bradford Royal Infirmary and I had missed Chris Binnie (Trustee of Our Angels who sponsored the conference) talk about Henry his much loved angel. I had missed Heidi Eldridge from MAMA Academy talking about her beloved angel Aidan and I had missed the screening of an amazing film called Still Loved. If you were moved by what’s been happening in Coronation St recently then Still Loved is definitely your next port of call.
That was just the morning.
As well as Cheryl from SANDS, the afternoon gave us Dr Alex Heazell a practicing Obstetrician and and researcher. You’ll never meet someone that can make you so excited about science. A scientist who’s passion is shown by the way he exhorts all present to turn the research onto practical action.
|Me & Grace's Heartbeat|
And then there was Kirsty Nguyen, a first time speaker, who better to speak about bereavement care than a midwife who has first hand experience of loss. I deem her the bravest speaker and am sure Holly would be proud of her mum.
And finally Julia Walker- Brown, A maternity policy and strategy manager for NHS England who gave some very simple and practical steps to improve care, to save babies lives.
And lets not forget the audience. So many good questions in the Q+A, in particular from Natalie Oldham of Otis and Friends who asked a question that caused a pin drop moment. Why aren’t dad’s screened? They provide 50% of the child’s DNA and a simple blood test for Dad would have saved Otis life…so why? Every professional in the room suddenly thought “Oh yea”.
Can you see what I see. Can you? Because it’s exciting.
I’ll say it again - I have spoken at many events and not only have I never seen a conference on this scale, I have never seen such a perfect balance of practical medical advice, academic revelation, charity involvement and parent collaboration.
This isn’t just a great conference for which Chris from Our Angels and Student Midwives Gemma Brice, Jessica English Macmillan, Bethany Bolton and Natalie Marie deserve heaps of praise for being innovators and change activists; but it has taken a movement that began quietly years ago and moved it up a level.
If you were there, then you know all this already and if you weren't, it may feel like a lot of names you don't know but...
Lets be clear, the research is conclusive - Stillbirth isn’t just one of "those things", the majority can be prevented.
Lets be clear, the research is conclusive - bereavement care isn’t just a "nice extra", it costs the tax payer more than a live birth does.
More people than ever are beginning to wake up to these facts and the good midwives of Bradford and have made an amazing step forward in arming their warriors.
This weekend started with an epic journey that cost me in several ways. Was it worth it?
O hell yea!