London midwives who started ‘ground-breaking’ training for colleagues win coveted RCM award

on 22 May 2023 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives Government Pregnancy Midwifery Workforce Wales

A Team of Midwives and physiotherapists in South East London have won a national award from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in recognition of their groundbreaking new service.

The Perinatal Pelvic Health Service, of the South East London Local Maternity & Neonatal System, was presented with the Partnership & Team Working award at RCMs annual awards in London on 19 May. 

The team, led by Project Manager and Midwife Monica Franklin, and Lead Pelvic Health Specialist Physiotherapist Paula Igualada-Martinez, was set up in 2021 and operates over three maternity providers; Guys' and St Thomas' NHS Trust, Kings College NHS Trust and Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust. 

Specialist pelvic health physiotherapists and midwives are working across the three Trusts to provide interventions that prevent pelvic floor dysfunction, and to support those experiencing mild to moderate pelvic health issues during pregnancy and up to one year after giving birth. This support is offered in the form of antenatal pelvic health education classes and specialist clinics.

Since its launch, the service has trained over 1,000 health care professionals to teach pelvic floor exercises to women and birthing people, and to identify those with pelvic floor dysfunction to be referred into the specialist pelvic health clinics for further support and treatment. 

The work is incredibly important for women. Research shows that up to one in three women experience urinary incontinence in the first year after giving birth, and up to three quarters of these women continue to experience this in the following 12 years after giving birth. Additionally, one in 10 women experience faecal incontinence and one in 12 women will have a pelvic organ prolapse. Aside from the medical implications it can leave women feeling embarrassed and ashamed. 

Commenting on the Teams win Paula said: “What makes this project special is the midwifery and physiotherapy partnership. Looking after women during pregnancy and the postpartum period with pelvic problems – this is something that has never been done. And the fact that we work across trusts in South East London too, it makes it even more impactful.”

The service has been an outstanding success, offering advice to hundreds of women on how to manage and resolve symptoms going forward. Of those who attended the classes, 90% found the format useful for learning, 98% found that they were able to identify the most common pelvic health issues and where to find support and advice, and 100% felt motivated to initiate and adhere to pelvic floor muscle training.'