Chesterfield Royal Hospital is piloting a new service for mums-to-be with a current or previous mental health illness.
The Partners in Pregnancy (PiP) team consists of eight midwives working in pairs to ensure that every woman who falls under the team’s care is assigned a named midwife and a buddy midwife to cover leave. The idea is to ensure that these ladies will benefit from an increased continuity of care to reduce incidents of stress and anxiety during pregnancy and birth.
Pauline Twigg is the midwife leading the team, she says: “It’s about giving more personal care and time to those who need it the most, to reduce anxiety and support any diagnosis of postnatal mental health illness. Each lady will know their midwife throughout their pregnancy, increasing that level of trust and confidence, being present during the birth and also offering support and postnatal care until six weeks after birth.
“Women will be asked during the first midwife appointment if they have experienced anxiety, depression or a mental health condition and, if they say ‘yes’, we will ask if they would like to be cared for by the PiP team. By spending more time with them during appointments and being available over the phone, that level of trust will increase which, in turn, reduces the likelihood of a mental health condition becoming a problem during pregnancy.
“The team will also organise social events such as picnics in the park, coffee breaks at cafes and get involved with nurseries and playgroups. This builds relationships with other mums, encourages them to interact outside of the home environment and can also involve their wider families, including dads and other children.
“Each of our midwives has a number of different skills and life experiences, specialising in mental health and complimentary therapies. By operating the buddy system they will get to know two midwives so that if their named midwife is on leave or at another birth, they will still know the buddy midwife taking care of them. They will also have the opportunity to meet all of the team at the social and education sessions and have a chance to build relationships with them all.
“It’s primarily about reducing the fear of the unknown that can be a major factor in increased anxiety, reassuring these ladies that they will be cared for by someone they know at a place that is familiar to them. We strive for continuity of care for all of our mums-to-be but the PiP team is there as part of an enhanced service for women who need it the most.”
The team (pictured above) consists of midwives Liz Priest, Jade Hicks, Lucy Wareing, Gaynor Chambers, Jemma Cox, Rebecca Hawcroft, Ellie Jack and Sally Goodwin.