ICM strengthening bonds across midwifery

By Susan Hughes, Consultant Midwife, Gloucester Hospitals Trust and Worcester University on 02 June 2023 Maternity Services RCM UK Midwives Midwifery Workforce Midwifery ICM - International Congress of Midwives

RCM competition winner Susan Hughes shares what being a midwife means to her as she looks forward to attending this year's International Congress for Midwives and what she hopes to take away from the experience.

My name is Susan Hughes, I am a Consultant Midwife at Gloucester Hospitals Trust and Worcester University. The Consultant Midwife role is underpinned by four pillars which include leadership, clinical practice, education and research. This role provides me with the opportunity to encompass all elements and embed them into practice as a continuum, daily.

I was inspired to become a midwife by the birth of my nephew – he is now 33 years old and training to become a fireman! A visit from the Community Midwife caring for my older sister ignited my passion and started me on this exceptional journey. Being a midwife is more than a job for me, it is a true vocation in which I am very proud to say that I’m a midwife.

I have been a midwife for over 20 years, entering midwifery through the Nursing pathway. During this time, I have enjoyed attending beautiful births and caring for pregnant women. It really is an extremely satisfying career and a total privilege to be able to share this rite of passage with women and their families, supporting them in giving birth at home, in midwife-led birth units or in the hospital setting.

I am passionate about supporting women to achieve the best birthing experience possible, believing that as individuals we all encompass a unique set of psychosocial needs which influence our lives affecting both pregnancy and the birth journey. I feel strongly that individual needs should be acknowledged and at the heart of facilitating women to make important decisions on where and how to give birth, respecting that women should be supported to make informed choices to enable them to receive high standards of care.

A few years ago, I undertook further training to become a professional midwifery advocate (PMA) which involves supporting midwives and encouraging them to reflect on their practice to enable them to increase the quality of care they can offer women and their families. Over the years, I have seen midwifery undergo many changes according to external environmental and political factors. In today’s world, it is a challenging work environment, often fuelled by competing demands and immense pressure caused by a lack of resources with the accumulative effects of the post-pandemic era. For this reason, the role of the PMA has been particularly valuable as increasingly, the PMA service is seeing a higher number of midwives seek the support of a PMA to help them through these difficult times.

My specific area of interest is working with women who choose to have care which falls outside of the current guidance, often with complex needs which require a truly individualised approach to care planning. My role as a Consultant Midwife and PMA, not only enables women to achieve their birthing aspirations but it also supports midwives to provide these specific care requirements confidently and safely – a triumphant meeting of minds!

I am absolutely delighted to be offered this wonderful opportunity to support the RCM as a representative in the 33rd Triennial ICM Congress in Bali, this year. Attending the Congress will provide a special opportunity to meet midwives and members of the maternity community from many different countries and backgrounds, strengthening bonds and unity across the globe in upholding standards of care for women birthing people.

To build on the midwifery profession from a global perspective, I anticipate this networking opportunity will facilitate lively discussion and critical debate of developments within the sphere of midwifery practice. This opportunity will serve to enhance effective partnerships and demonstrate the importance of collaborative working which increase the safety and standards of care for women internationally. I very much look forward to updating you on my return...