Student led Midwifery conference a sell out

Student led Midwifery conference

Faculty midwifery students organised a hugely successful and well received conference with over 150 people in attendance to celebrate International day of the Midwife on Tuesday 5th May 2015 at Kingston University.  All funds raised through ticket sales were donated directly to the nominated charity, SafeHands for Mothers. Organised by a group of second year student midwives, the focus was on positive changes within maternity care. This was embodied by the title of the conference, ‘The Bright Future of Midwifery: Courage, Diversity and Compassion’.

The conference was a success before it had even begun. Tickets sold out weeks before the event took place, waiting lists were in operation leading up to the day, and messages of excitement and support flowed into the Facebook page set up to promote the conference. Demand for more capacity at next year’s event has led to a larger venue already booked for May 2016.

Sheena ByromThe mix of speakers and topics was exciting and varied. The morning began with an inspiring keynote speech by Sheena Byrom, midwifery consultant and author of the book, The Roar behind the Silence, on kindness and courage, setting a positive tone for the day. This was followed by an address from RCM President Lesley Page, read by Sheena in Lesley’s absence. Nancy Durrell McKenna, founder and director of SafeHands, gave a moving presentation on the work that SafeHands does in developing nations to minimise maternal deaths and promote the safety and well-being of girls and women around the world. Unfortunately, a technical glitch during Nancy’s talk meant some of her videos were unable to be shown, though the spirit of her message still shone through and was well received. There’s a reason why midwives are ‘with woman’ and not ‘with technology’! Next, midwife Mark Harris of Birthing for Blokes led attendees through an energetic and unforgettable talk on the importance of multi-level communication, leaving everyone in good spirits going into the lunch break.


Frederique Rattue

In the afternoon, Carolyn Romer, a consultant midwife at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, London, showcased a series of filmed interviews with women who experienced complex pregnancies, in which they discussed the emotional and physical impact of the care they received. Following this, attendees had the privilege of meeting mother Frédérique Rattue and her baby, Diego. Frédérique, along with her midwife Maria Mills-Shaw (home birth lead at Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust), shared the story of Diego’s gentle caesarean and how the midwifery and obstetric team worked together with Frédérique and her partner to ensure the caesarean was carried out in a woman-centred and baby-friendly way. To round out the day, Milli Hill of the Positive Birth Movement and Rebecca Schiller of BirthRights gave attendees plenty to consider with their complementary talks on why a healthy baby is not all that matters, and the importance of protecting women’s dignity and human rights in childbirth.

The mood at the end of the conference was one of positivity, determination and unity, with numerous ideas to reflect on and take back into practice. Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with nearly all rating the day as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’. Praise for the organising committee of student midwives was effusive, and their pride in a job well done apparent. A total of £1,275 was raised for SafeHands for Mothers, which is a fantastic achievement. Overall, the day was a great success and met its overarching aim: to inspire and inform, and to herald the bright future of midwifery.