Hey there, I’m Lynsey and I’ve recently taken a leap of faith in to independent midwifery following 6 incredible years working for the NHS. Hannah from Reframing Birth and I have been friends for a while now, and when she asked me to share my reasons for the change, I jumped at the chance. I hope you enjoy it!
My first introduction to Independent practice was during University. An independent midwife came at the start of our second year and shared her experience as a professional working outside the framework of the NHS and it was truly inspirational; she talked fondly of building strong relationships with Mums, Dads and families, delivering individualised care, providing continuity and ultimately helping ladies to feel more relaxed and in control - at a time when emotions can often leave them feeling vulnerable and uncertain (a feeling I know well!).
As a newly qualified Midwife in 2012 I never thought about going into independent practice immediately because I was focused on consolidating what I had learned from Uni and then bolstering that knowledge with practical experience. The NHS really helped me to develop into a strong and confident midwife, I’m proud of the time I spent within the NHS (based in Surrey) and even prouder still of the ladies and families I helped navigate through the most amazing journey anyone will ever take.
However, at times I felt like the care I was able to provide versus the care I wanted to provide was quite different and this made me begin to question everything. I wanted to be a midwife to be ‘with woman’ (which is what Midwife means), to provide support and advice that is woman centred to enable women to make safe, informed choices about their care and for them to feel empowered. To do this effectively and to build strong, trusting relationships continuity is key. It’s very hard on a busy labour ward to build those relationships – doable but tricky. It can sometimes feel fast and slightly forced – you’ve often never met these families before and they come in, in the throes of labour, you’re trying to introduce yourself, read notes, assess the situation as it is currently and all at a time when you should be empowering. At the same time, you want to offer encouragement, emotional support and you really have little idea of this family’s background/homelife etc. In another situation, you might’ve spent a whole shift with a family, built a good rapport but then the end of shift comes… the times I stayed, the times I considered staying but just couldn’t – so much to consider and weigh up – yet knowing that a change of shift and change of face could well interrupt the birthing process and slow things down…maybe just a little, maybe a lot depending on the mummy to be and how she feels.
As an NHS Midwife you rarely get to ‘caseload’ or provide continuity in its true form. As a community midwife, you’re often assigned a surgery, which you will then often see the same women through their antenatal care, this then ‘breaks’ for labour and birth, then postnatally whoever in the team assigned to do the visits for that day will go out – yet more new faces both for you and the women. Again, you have no idea about background and have to try and get to know the women and their families in what feels like just a few minutes. Then the next visit it may be another person attending. Even the home birth teams, often will take over care between 34 and 36 weeks, could be anyone of the team on call – of course, different trusts offer different services and they may all vary slightly. My NHS colleagues are amazing, and I am proud to have been part of the service but for me, I just can’t provide the care and support to women and their families that they deserve.
Ultimately, I want to help ladies and their families have positive, empowered and informed experiences throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. At my core, this is the most important thing for me as a midwife. I began to consider other areas to expand my knowledge to help support women in the pregnancy journey which started with a course in Hypnobirthing powered by lovely ladies at the Little Birth Company.
So, why Hypnobirthing? I had supported some women and birth partners using Hypnobirthing both during Vaginal births and also through Caesarean sections, but didn’t really understand what it was all about. These couples just seemed so relaxed and in control, the birthing mummas using breathing techniques and focused on the job in hand. So I started to explore all things hypnobirthing and completed a training course. I loved it all!! Realising how we can empower women no matter what journey their pregnancy path takes them was quite powerful. I might be biased but we have the most beautiful scripts we use, freedom to design our own courses, the most amazing colleagues and the best guidance from our ‘leaders’ at The Little Birth Company – its like having another family!
My first venture in to independence – logos, banners, socials, marketing and a website. Oh my! What a learning curve all of this was for me – luckily I have a very supported and patient husband who helped me (I am a serious technophobe), I didn’t even know how to use Instagram haha. So, we had a brain storm and got ideas for names etc and Brighter Births was born. I loved the idea that I can somehow make peoples experiences a bit ‘brighter’ using the Hypnobirthing tools and techniques during antenatal classes. I really enjoyed the hypnobirthing but it just wasn’t enough, I wanted to provide more support and not feel constrained by time..
I Came across the IMUK website and they were holding a ‘making the move’ workshop. Held by Independent Midwives to discuss moving into Independent practice and all that needs to be considered. Initially, I felt slightly overwhelmed, but the support from experienced IM’s is just amazing… a few coffee meetings and several telephone chats later was just the nudge I needed and here I am!...’Brighter Births Midwifery and Hypnobirthing’ covering Surrey and the South East 😊 and I’m absolutely loving it. I can spend the time meeting and getting to know the families I’m working with, manage my own diary, work around my family and best of all provide the best care and support I can.
Thanks Lynsey for your incredible post! If you live in and around Surrey/Sussex and are wanting an independent midwife or hypnobirthing instructor, check out Lynsey's website Brighter Births. I can't recommend her enough!