Why Independent Midwives need our support
After releasing this video several independent midwives rightly pointed out to us that our post was misleading, as one shared with us; "I'd like to point out that although we cannot attend births, we ARE able to provide our usual gold standard antenatal and postnatal care. We desperately need intrapartum insurance to provide birth care, but right now please don't say we can't practice at all, because at this time antenatal and postnatal care provision is my livelihood!"
We apologise for the misleading information and have updated the wording in our communication. We hope that this is now a true reflection of the situation, please do contact us if you feel there is any other information we should update or share.
Independent midwives are facing a desperate situation right now. In 2020, self employed midwives lost all access to commercial professional indemnity insurance covering them for intrapartum care (care of women and their babies during labour and immediately after the birth). Exhaustive search for alternative insurance providers and support from the UK government has proved fruitless, leaving independent midwives simply unable to provide their full services. They are still able to provide antenatal and postnatal care.
These self-employed midwives are professional and regulated. They choose to work outside of the NHS allowing them to offer personalised care for the parents they assist. Many have shown examples of how a different style of care and personal relationships can improve birth outcomes for woman. This can help feed into and improve the NHS guidelines - helping improve care for all. The service of an independent midwife has been described as: “A service that is priceless” and “The best money I ever spent.”
Why does this matter?
As shared by Birthrights; “We know not everyone can afford an independent midwife. However as a group, they play a vital role in maternity services by offering an alternative woman/individual centred model of care, and therefore continually challenging the NHS to do the same. During coronavirus, we are aware of individuals who have turned to IMs in desperation when local NHS services have been unable to meet their needs.”
What can we do?
Independent midwives have been working incredibly hard to create their own insurance vehicle. Their aim is to:
- Create an indemnity product, with much lower premiums per birth, meaning that the cost of care can be lower than if operated within the commercial market.
- Launch an access fund to help women and birthing people to receive support if they cannot self-fund their care.
All money is collected by the charity The White Ribbon Alliance.
How to donate:
Visit the fundraising page here.
Katharine chats with Independent Midwives about their situation
"It is hugely significant not just for the relatively small number of women they support, but also for the wider maternity services. So that you are fully informed, please watch the video above.
I have made this video with Jacqui Tomkins, the chair of IMUK, who has done so much work to try to get an insurance vehicle for IMs, and Kemi Johnson, who is an example of the wonderful care IMs give and with whom I work frequently as a KGHypnobirthing senior trainer. It is a privilege to have had a conversation with these two women, and my aim is that the video reaches as many people as possible so that they understand the dire situation at the moment, and hopefully it may reach someone who has the contacts or resources to help set up the insurance vehicle which is so desperately needed.
Please watch it through, and please, and most importantly, circulate it to anyone and everyone. Everyone needs to see it, with a request to send it to their contacts too. If every woman who has had the amazing care offered by an independent midwife in the last few years, as well as every well-wisher in the birthing community donated £10 and circulated it to all their contacts we would be able to set up the insurance vehicle needed and IMs could get back to work straight away. If you could donate £20 or perhaps £100 it would be even better. It could be that someone who receives this video has access to a trust or charity that could make a more significant donation. The amount needed is £3m, and then the midwives would pay their annual insurance fee into the fund to maintain it on a stable footing into the future.
My only purpose in producing this video is that I want to help. Please play your part in helping too. Together we can achieve this." Katharine Graves
Find out more about what Independent Midwives do:
1. What is an Independent Midwife
The legal role of a midwife encompasses the care of women and babies during pregnancy, birth and the early weeks of motherhood. An independent midwife is a fully qualified midwife who has chosen to work outside the NHS in a self-employed capacity. Often working in partnership with other independent midwives, an independent midwife gives care to a woman and her family throughout a pregnancy and the same midwife cares for the woman as she births her baby and supports the family afterwards.
2. What kind of care does an Independent Midwife provide?
Independent midwives perform the same antenatal and postnatal clinical assessments as happen within the NHS. Blood pressure monitoring, urine testing and assessment of fetal well being will be completed at each antenatal meeting. Postnatally, your independent midwife will provide information and assistance on infant feeding and care as well as monitoring your clinical wellbeing, helping you to make a full and rested recovery from childbirth.
3. What are the benefits of Independent Midwifery Care?
The benefits of a known and trusted midwife throughout pregnancy and birth (continuity of care) are well known and widely documented. This type of care best helps women to cope with the challenges of labour and the transition to parenthood and reduces the likelihood of having medical interventions.
Independent midwives are on call for the women they care for on a 24/7 basis and appointments can often take place in the evening or on weekends. Appointment times may be longer which can give you a greater chance to discuss concerns or ask for advice.
If you are at increased risk of complications and are unable to find the care you want from the NHS, some independent midwives are experienced in helping women with twins, a breech baby or who have had a previous caesarean to have the birth experience they want.
Although there can be no guarantees in birth, choosing an independent midwife as your caregiver does increase your chances of a ‘normal’ physiological birth.
4. How is an Independent Midwife regulated, supervised and insured?
Independent midwives are registered with and regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and subject to the same supervision as NHS midwives. Independent midwives are required to keep up to date with their practice and are only allowed to act within their sphere of competence as midwives. All IMUK members hold mandatory professional indemnity insurance.
Source: Independent Midwives UK