AIMS - Helping Improve Maternity Services
AIMS is a wonderful organisation. Everyone in this country has cause to be grateful to AIMS although they may not know it. AIMS is a charity that has worked tirelessly for over 50 years to improve conditions for women and babies. AIMS lobbied for fathers to be present at the birth. AIMS lobbied to have birthing pools in all birth centres.
AIMS was founded by Sally Willington as a result of the rigid and uncaring treatment she received when giving birth to her baby in hospital. Her letter to the national press received an overwhelming and heartfelt response from other women who had suffered the same treatment and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pregnant Women was formed. In 1960 the name was changed to The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services which focussed originally on lobbying for more humane treatment for women giving birth in hospital. Subsequent research has shown, of course, that home is the safest place for most women to give birth, so now AIMS lobbies for choice of place of birth too.
All the work of AIMS is done by volunteers, so there are no high salaries or expensive offices, and their work is focussed mainly in three areas:
AIMS goes through all the new draft NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines that are published and makes suggestions to ensure they are based on the latest research and are focussed on the welfare of women and babies. The labour (excuse the pun) involved is not seen by the public, but involves many hours of meticulous reading and research, all done by extremely experienced and well informed volunteers, before presenting suggestions to NICE for woman friendly and evidence based amendments to the guidelines before they are published.
The AIMS helpline is a superb resource for pregnant women and their partners, new parents, midwives, and anyone who is involved in the area of birth. The service is free, and the number to call is 0300 365 0663. You may be or may have been put under pressure to agree to a particular procedure which may not be well researched and which may have profound effects on the health of you and your baby. There may not have been time at any antenatal visit to ask all the questions you need to understand your condition, or you may not have thought of those questions until you were at home. You need to stand back and take the time to discuss the question with someone who is knowledgeable and has time to listen. This is when you pick up the phone and call AIMS. They provide wonderful help.
It can also happen that midwives and other professionals meet dilemmas in their professional work, or find themselves subjected to guidelines that they do not feel are in the best interest of a woman. It may be departmental politics or bullying, or the fear of disciplinary action if they step outside the protocols and do what their professional judgement tells them is the best for the woman. AIMS is there to help them too.
The AIMS books are based on research, evidence and facts rather than opinion. The subjects range from place of birth to placentas, ultrasound to induction, breech babies to Vitamin K. If every pregnant woman bought and read all the titles they would be properly informed to make the best decisions for them and their babies. It would put their minds at rest on many subjects, and help them consider important topics that they might not even have thought about. So many of the decisions we make in pregnancy are not decisions at all, but assumptions based on our pre-conceived ideas. Assumptions are dangerous things. Good decisions are based on fact and information. Many of the books can be downloaded electronically if you want the information in an emergency situation, but it is sensible to read all of them early in pregnancy. You may not meet all the circumstances covered, but the worst time to make a decision is when you are under pressure, so it makes a lot of sense to inform yourself in advance, and re-visit the information if you should find yourself in the situation that you need it.
The decisions you make in pregnancy can affect you and your baby for life. Make sure you are properly informed and have the knowledge to make the best choice for you. A snap decision made out of fear is often regretted.
When I teach KG Hypnobirthing to a couple expecting their second or subsequent child I often hear the words, ‘If only,’ on their lips. ‘If only I had known …..’ ‘If only someone had told me….’ Hopefully KG Hypnobirthing mums never have cause to say ‘If only…’ as they are knowledgeable and can make the best decision for them, understanding the alternatives available to them and the implications of their choices. Making use of the information in the AIMS books is an important part of that process.