Anyone interested in improving maternity care for asylum seeking and refugee women in the Manchester area is invited to an open meeting on
Last week, two presentations were made by the Maternity Stream at conferences held in the Manchester area. One, run by the University of Manchester School of Nursing Midwifery & Social Work, focused on perinatal mental health, the other run by Salford midwifery society focused on ” Beyond Consent: supporting women’s choices”. Rose McCarthy, Mel Cooper and Hawa Bundi where the key note speakers and talked about ‘Getting it right’ Maternal mental health and asylum seeking and refugee women. They focused on three main themes; factors influencing perinatal mental health for asylum seekers and refugees, interventions that work and how the maternity stream and sanctuary awards can help improve practice. Hawa shared her personal story. It was the first time she had spoken in public and she was inspiring. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room which was packed with over 100 attendees. Afterwards, she received so much positive feedback that she couldn’t stop smiling and the opportunity to be heard, understood and valued seemed healing in itself.
At Salford student midwifery society conference, Rose McCarthy, Emily Wood and Diako Onyikioha ran two workshops entitled ” Beyond Consent: Supporting asylum seeking and refugee women”. Rose, felt that the idea that midwives want to go out of their way to go ‘beyond consent’ to support women’s choices was admirable. but questioned whether in reality this applied to asylum seeking and refugee women. Women who don’t tend to have choices, who are forced to leave their countries, have difficulties accessing care in the UK, may not have interpreters and Rose questioned can you have informed consent without one? Women who may even be charge for midwifery care, up to £6000 even after their baby has died! 12% of maternal deaths in the UK are to asylum seeking and refugee women even though they only make up 0.32 % of the population It is all well and good to have high ideals but if we forget the needs and experiences of the most vulnerable in our society then we are in trouble. Diako and Emily then shared their personal stories and again there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Dennis Walsh, a real guru in the midwifery world said he was ” blown away” by the presentation. Manchester City of Sanctuary ran a stall at the conference and the interest shown in the launch meeting on the 5th May was really encouraging.
Rose ended her presentation with one of her favorite saying. ” Kindness saves lives. It is catching so lets spread it!” The midwives in Manchester at both conferences showed they do care and want to help. The launch on May 5th could be the start of something very exciting….